It doesn’t take a science degree to help conservationists in your region monitor wildlife and undertake other important duties for ecosystem health. Citizen science, a practice through which members of the public assist scientists’ research, is growing in popularity, spawning conferences, school programs, publications and more.
Do you want to learn more about the wildlife in your area and contribute vital knowledge for its protection? Become a citizen naturalist! Here’s how:
Make a list of your interests. Are you a birdwatcher who wants to share your discoveries with the world? Do you love to kayak? Do you like getting outside in the winter? Cataloging your interests will help you identify an appropriate opportunity.
Learn your wildlife. Do you know how to tell the difference between the mating calls of a green frog and those of a bull frog? Before hitting the field, citizen scientists usually receive training on how to identify targeted species.
Start counting. Audubon’s Great Backyard Bird Count, National Geographic’s BioBlitz and FrogWatch USA are some popular citizen science surveys that give researchers a better picture of animal populations. The National Wildlife Federation has a more complete list of opportunities here.
Analyze. Citizen scientists don’t just collect data: they can also help analyze it. Try it from the convenience of the web by taking a few minutes to count creatures on the sea floor or identify recorded whale songs through Zooniverse.
Pass it on. Children can make a difference too! Share your passion for nature with the kids in your life by browsing the free lesson plans and ideas from the National Environmental Education Foundation or starting a schoolyard bioblitz.