Making Science A Walk in the Woods

Are you interested in observing, documenting, and learning more about plant life and the outdoors? Wish you could spend more time outside, walking around in the forest?

That's what's on the agenda for our Phenology Network team. Simply put, phenology is making yearly observations about the ways in which plants are changing. It's vital to record these observations in order to have an idea of what's going on ecologically, which is why Nature's Notebook was developed. 

Nature's Notebook is a Citizen Science program run through the USA Phenology Network that compiles natural observations from across the country. These observations are used to track changes that may have occurred because of climate change. For instance, someone might examine one particular red oak over ten years. They would record when it starts to bud, when it establishes full leaves, and when it drops its leaves. Once several years have passed, we can compare these seasonal occurrences to determine whether the tree perhaps bloomed earlier or later at some point during the recorded time period--information vital to naturalists, environmental scientists, and climatologists.

There is a phenology program at the Rye Nature Center that's been collecting data for about ten years. This program is composed of citizens with varied interests who participate on a volunteer basis. Some of these volunteers have a background in science, while others just have a passion for the natural world. The meetings involve walking in the woods and having conversations with other nature enthusiasts.

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photo credit:

The Phenology Network team is open to anyone who is interested, all skills levels welcome! The Rye Nature Center is committed to conservation and the encouragement of active community involvement to better our environment.

Phenology observations can be taken at any time during the spring, summer, and fall. If you're interested in joining the core Phenology Network team or to learn more contact our Director of Strategic Initiatives at:

You can also stop by the Rye Nature Visitor Center Monday through Saturday between 9:00 am-5:00 pm.

-Chris Hendershot, Land Steward