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Get Involved in the Dragonfly Mercury Project

Three volunteers with a park ranger look at dragonfly larvae.
DMP volunteers observe dragonfly larvae with NPS staff at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (Alaska).

NPS Photo

So, what does it mean to get involved in the Dragonfly Mercury Project (DMP)? It all starts with people and parks!

Citizen scientists and community volunteers have been involved in the DMP for over a decade. They help collect dragonfly larvae in national parks and other protected areas all over the United States. DMP participants get to experience parks like never before, while contributing real data to an important scientific study. Dragonfly mercury data help policy makers and resource managers make informed decisions to protect human and wildlife health.

Do you want to help collect dragonfly larvae in a beautiful national park? Interested people might include:

  • National park, forest, or refuge managers
  • Students, teachers, and professional researchers
  • Science communicators and interpreters
  • Volunteers, or any member of the community!

Citizen scientists for the DMP get the unique opportunity to wear waders and get wet collecting dragonfly larvae, identifying them, recording observations, and learning about threats to park resources. Check out some videos of past participants sampling.

Join us!

Become a citizen scientist

Get your feet wet – use these links to connect with a nearby National Park Service unit that may be participating in the DMP. If they aren't already participating, they might be interested!

Parks can also be found in your backyard. Friends groups or resource managers for areas outside the National Park Service are welcome to join the effort. E-mail the DMP with questions – we can point you toward where and how to get involved.

DMP volunteers look for dragonfly larvae in a net
An American Conservation Experience intern works with DMP volunteers at New River Gorge National Park and Preserve (West Virginia).

NPS Photo/Lisa Wilson

Collaborate as a partner

The DMP’s multi-leveled approach benefits diverse partners with different interests and capacities. Interested groups might include federal and state agencies, local communities, resource managers, and subsistence and recreational fish consumers. Working with a variety of partners expands the DMP's capabilities and helps agencies achieve shared goals. Together, we advance our missions focused on natural resource management, environmental protection, science, and public engagement. The DMP helps protect natural resources and the people who enjoy them from mercury exposure. We invite you to help us achieve that goal: Visit the DMP Prospectus for more information.

Integrate a monitoring plan

Park managers can use the Protocol Implementation Plan to develop a strategy for resource protection. The protocol outlines a framework for monitoring mercury in dragonfly larvae, providing detail about data collection and more. These methods can be useful for designing public events, resource management plans, and long-term monitoring programs.

Develop communication and educational materials

Do you have ideas for communication, outreach, and/or educational products? Email us to collaborate! To learn what we've been working on, see the final workshop report on Communicating the Science of the Dragonfly Mercury Project.

Use the Data

In addition to actively engaging in dragonfly collections at a park, even those at home can download and utilize DMP data for their own exploration. Click below to:

A park ranger, an intern, and a volunteer sit smiling with DMP materials.
The DMP is a true collaboration involving park staff, interns, and volunteers at Indiana Dunes National Park (Indiana).

NPS Photo

Find Us on Social Media

Like us on Facebook (Six-Legged Scouts in the National Parks) and follow us on Instagram (#dragonflymercuryproject). Post photos and stories from your experiences collecting dragonflies for mercury analysis, and tag us at @Six-Legged Scouts in the National Parks and #dragonflymercuryproject

Last updated: June 29, 2023