Professional scientists do not collect most scientific data. Did you know that? "Amateurs" compile most of the accumulated information on the natural world and members of the general public who contribute to that sort of scientific work are called Citizen Scientists. Citizen Science is a great motivator to develop a more observant eye of the natural world and become a participatory member of the scientific community.
Want to get involved but don't know where to start? We can help you dip your toe into the world of Citizen Science.
FRNC participates in Project FeederWatch, a program run through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, we monitor our feeders from November to April, with weekly observations on Friday and Saturday. Your efforts will help us to understand "long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance," creating a more holistic view of bird populations in the United States.
Due to the Blind Brook's connection to the Atlantic Ocean, Rye Nature Center is also part of an initiative to study the American Eel, a species that hatches in the Sargasso Sea, yet needs freshwater in order to mature into adults. Using materials distributed by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, staff and volunteers survey the Brook in order to understand the migration patterns of this species while they are in the glass eel or elver stage of their life cycle. You're invited to collect data when the monitoring begins. Early March is the best time to start, so don't waste any time if you want to get involved!
Want to continue your passion for Citizen Science in the summer? The Firefly Watch Citizen Science Project, facilitated by Mass Audubon and Tufts University, gives individuals a chance to observe the diversity of fireflies in their backyard. If you have 10 minutes once a week, then this project is for you! A handy chart provided by Mass Audubon gives you insight into the flash patterns that help distinguish the various Photinus (the most common) species.
Of course, there are many more options to choose from. National Geographic has a large list of projects that will expand your knowledge of our planet and the solar system!
Please keep us in mind for starting or continuing your involvement in Citizen Science--we have options throughout the year. We'd love to hear your stories of participation and see any pictures of you in action!
-Amanda Schuster, Environmental Educator