Be a Citizen Scientist


Be a Citizen Scientist

by Amy Lignor


Yes, there are thousands upon thousands of scientists studying and practicing in various fields. From studying space to medicine to climate control, there are “minds” working at all times around the globe to stop the harm, ignite the new idea, and fix what needs fixing. However, the one thing most all scientists can agree upon is there is a whole lot of work to do and help is always needed.

Members of the Cascades Butterfly Citizen Science Team pictured on Sauk mountain. Photo by Karlie Roland.

Members of the Cascades Butterfly Citizen Science Team pictured on Sauk mountain. Photo by Karlie Roland.

What many of us laypeople do not know, however, is that you do not need to head to a big-name college and earn a degree in order to provide some of that much-needed help. It’s actually a fact that having more “citizen scientists” out there helps to gather vital information and data. Such as, a simple walk taken every day by someone with the hobby of birdwatching can make a huge difference in global environmental research.


Citizens already are providing extremely large amounts of data as they monitor their own back yards and neighborhoods, so to speak, when it comes to biodiversity. Tree foliage monitors, studying habitats, etc., but there is also more to do. A new study published in the journal, Biological Conservation, makes the suggestion that citizen scientists have the potential to “contribute more to regional and global assessments of biodiversity.” Some can monitor species and habitats being built, or ones being destroyed by expansion in their community; they can examine satellite imagery for evidence of deforestation, and more, and provide that data to environmental scientists working hard to stay on top of and track ecological issues. In fact, there are many species that have been placed on watch lists and even earned endangered status because citizens were eager to help and eager to make sure that no species would follow the path of the Dodo, simply because the government was too busy to care.


Citizen naturalists/scientists are people truly concerned with the environment and have made a conscious choice to do their best to make a difference, both locally and nationally. They spend their free time outside, observing nature and all that’s being done (rightly and wrongly) to alter nature. And being a citizen naturalist is a job that literally anyone with a passion for this great big world and the need and want to help their community can become involved with.


There are projects galore that citizen naturalists have become a part of and seen to fruition. Cleaning up local parks and streams is one, with some even going out into their community schools and teaching water monitoring classes, opening up children’s eyes and minds to ecosystems and the unfortunate threats to our wildlife. Many naturalists even work hard to get their own towns certified as Community Wildlife Habitats, and pass on information to citizen science programs in the area.


When it goes into the “science” branch, people volunteer their time to help the scientists with their research, which allows the scientists the benefit of having a lot more data to analyze. Varying in both size and scope, there are projects on local, national – all the way up to global levels where the “citizen” can play a large part in cleaning up the environment and saving species, by giving scientists the largest and best donation they can possibly make: their time.


So as you walk outside and take a look at that tree foliage in your backyard, or watch the birds as they come home at night to their nests, make sure to take notes of the changes you see happening all around you. After all, it could be your “nugget” of data that saves the life of something this world can literally not afford to lose.


Find a project:  Nature America

Adventure Scientists

Citizen Science Alliance


Source:  Baret News

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