Consider becoming a citizen scientist

Citizen Science is a new rapidly growing collection of projects in which volunteers partner with scientists to answer real-world questions. It greatly expands the opportunity for field data collection beyond what paid scientists have time to accomplish. Locally, volunteer citizen scientists help biologists monitor pygmy rabbits, document migratory songbirds that nest in sagebrush lands, and conduct monthly counts of bird species at a variety of sites.

Since 2002, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society have been leaders in the field of citizen science methodology with the online tool — eBird. eBird documents the presence or absence of species, as well as bird abundance through checklist data. A web-interface engages participants to submit their observations or view results via interactive queries into the eBird database. It is a rich data source for basic information about bird abundance and distribution worldwide.

I invite you to consider becoming a citizen scientist so you too can share what you see in the field with researchers nationwide. A first step is to sign up for an upcoming eBird 101 Workshop designed for a beginner citizen scientist. This free, 2-hour workshop is offered either on Tuesday March 29 (6-8PM) in Wenatchee or on Wednesday March 30 (9-11AM) in Leavenworth. An optional 1-hour field data collection practice will be offered 11AM-noon, after the Wednesday training. The presenter is Wendy Connally, who works for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as the Diversity Division’s Citizen Science Coordinator. The workshop is co-sponsored by Chelan-Douglas Land Trust (CDLT) and Wenatchee River Institute (WRI), in partnership with Audubon Washington and North Central Washington Audubon Society (NCWAS).

Wendy will start with the basics enabling a person not yet familiar with eBird to leave the workshop ready to set up an account, start collecting data, and entering bird observations. People already familiar with eBird will get to learn more about using the web-based tools and maps to advance their knowledge. Wendy Connally works with professional biologists, conservation partners, and interested/engaged volunteer Citizen Scientists and she designs and implements priority-species data collection projects. Wendy’s background is in rare species monitoring, wildlife conservation planning, stakeholder development, and on-the-ground stewardship. Conservation does not happen without people — so, she’s shifted her career in a way to more actively contribute to that conversation.

The March 29 Tuesday evening Wenatchee workshop will be held at the CDLT office, 10 N. Wenatchee Ave. Register by contacting Hillary Schwirtlich (Hillary@cdlandtrust.org or 509.667.9708).

The March 30 Wednesday morning (9-11AM) Leavenworth workshop will be held at the Wenatchee River Institute Barn. Register by contacting Brook Hinton (bhinton@wenatcheeriverinstitute.org or 509.548. 0181).

CDLT has launched citizen science eBird projects on several properties and Audubon Washington has partnered the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to implement a 5-year Sagebrush Songbird Survey monitoring project in Eastern Washington. Both rely on local volunteer s and more are needed. This workshop will help prepare volunteers to feel comfortable collecting and entering accurate bird data into eBird, using project specific protocols. See you at the training!

 

Biologist/educator Susan Ballinger works for Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, serving as the 2016 Conservation Fellow. Each fall, she teaches a 12-week Wenatchee Naturalist Course through Wenatchee Valley College Continuing Education.

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