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Citizen Science

  • Forest Service Citizen Science Program - gives NatureWatch enthusiasts opportunities to participate in data collection and monitoring with partners of national forests and grasslands.
  • BioBlitz -  find and identify as many species as possible in specific location over a short period with NatGeo and partners.
  • Citizen Science Association is a member-driven connecting people engaged in research and monitoring provided by the public.
  • CitSci.org - tools to empower you and your participants to ask questions, select methods, submit data, analyze data, and share results. Our tools to support the full spectrum of citizen science program needs.
  • Federal Community of Practice for Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Community

If you're not sure what you'd like to observe and report, take a look at some general sites to get a feel for what piques your interest: 

  • Natural Inquirer-Citizen Science edition is a downloadable guide for educators and middle school students to learn how to conduct and publish citizen science research using scientific methods and experiential learning activities
  • iNaturalist – puts the power of tracking observations, linking with experts, and recording your data as a citizen scientist into the palm of your hand through easy apps and other online resources about almost every taxa on the planet.
  • CitSci.org tools to support the full spectrum of citizen science program needs.
  • Nature's Notebook is a national plant and animal phenology observation program helping scientists, educators, policy makers, and resource managers to understand how plants and animals are responding to climate and other environmental changes.
  • Citizen Science Central is a nationwide clearinghouse for all kinds of public-participation projects in a variety of topic, ranging from astronomy to zoology.   Find a project you'd like to join, or register your research project and solicit citizen scientist volunteers.
  • Bioblitzes are a fun way to join other NatureWatchers and experts in a day or days of intensive recording of species in a particular area.
  • SciStarter offers "Your Research Mission," with a different citizen science project highlighted daily, or choose a project to assist from a variety of locations or times (beach, home, at night, at school).
  • Project Noah is a tool to explore and document all types of plants and animals, allowing contributors to upload their photos, georeferenced to a map, to share with and learn from citizen scientists everywhere.
  • DiscoverLife is a free, online tool to identify species, share ways to teach and study nature's wonders, report findings, build maps, process images, and contribute to and learn from a growing, interactive encyclopedia of life that now has over 1.2 million species pages.
  • Encyclopedia of Life is another free, online collection of information about all life on Earth in text, images, video, sounds, maps, and classifications.

The influences of changing phenology can have detrimental effects on food supplies and ecosystem sustainability.  Plants that flower earlier than their pollinators can suffer from reduced or no pollination, which results in low or no seed or fruit production.  Increased temperatures can lead to plant ranges slowly drifting northward or to higher elevations over time.  Reporting when and what you see in plants throughout the seasons is a very important step to helping both humans and animals adapt to a rapidly changing landscape.

  • Journey North - Track the migration of mMonarch butterflies, birds, and other animals.
  • Track Monarch Butterflies through Journey North
  • Project BudBurst runs spring through autumn to monitor plants as the seasons change.  NatureWatchers collect ecological data based on the timing of leafing, flowering, and fruiting of plants (plant phenophases) targeting 97 native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses.  This data gives scientists insights into prevailing climatic characteristics in a region over time.  The site also houses some great online plant identification guides!
  • The Great Sunflower Project gathers information about urban, suburban and rural bees and other pollinators visiting sunflowers in your yard and garden.
  • The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) Butterfly Counts gather data to help monitor butterfly populations, give butterfly enthusiasts the opportunity to meet one another and network, and raise awareness through butterfly-themed events.
  • The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) is a citizen science project involving volunteers from across the United States and Canada who collect data on larval monarch populations and milkweed habitat, with a focus on monarch distribution and abundance during the breeding season in North America.
  • Creek Freaks Save Our Streams
  • Track meteoroids, report night sky visibility, or discover supernovas with and NASA Citizen Scientists opportunities.
  • Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) is the largest source of daily precipitation observations in the United States.  Volunteers report and map map precipitation (rain, hail and snow).
  • Earth Echo Water Challenge runs annually from March 22 (World Water Day) through December, enlisting citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local waterbodies.
  • The MountainWatch Program enlists hikers to monitor and report the timing of alpine and mountain plant budding and flowering, and document air quality from mountain vistas. Mountain Watch plant observations will aid researchers in understanding how and by what magnitude the biota on the mountains are responding to observed changes in climate variables like temperature and snowmelt.
  • Great Lakes Worm Watch helps track the presence, absence and spread of exotic earthworms in the Great Lakes Region.  This site includes some great identification guides and other information about worms!