Many Research Learning Centers (RLCs) across the country provide opportunities for the public to actively participate in scientific data collection in an increasingly popular pastime known as citizen science. Citizen science engages volunteers of all ages, some with little or no prior scientific training, in collecting scientific data related to important issues faced by the parks.
Citizen scientists in national parks get out in the field, gain deeper knowledge about the resources in the parks, and contribute valuable information to assist the parks and monuments they love. Many participants report a greater awareness of contemporary issues, increased appreciation of the value of park resources, and a stronger sense of resource stewardship. For the NPS, citizen science provides a wealth of much-needed baseline data about key resources that can be used in planning management actions.
Several citizen science programs assist parks with biodiversity studies in large organized events known as "BioBlitzes." Observers might search for moths and butterflies at Acadia, all types of flora and fauna at Great Smoky Mountains and Yellowstone, or assist scientists at Channel Islands. They could also focus on species of concern, such as cattails at Indiana Dunes or loons, pikas, and mountain goats at Glacier. Citizen scientists can even report observations on cloud cover for NASA S'COOL program or note the blooming dates of local plants (known as the study of phenology) for the National Phenology Network. New citizen science opportunities are becoming available every year.
For more details on citizen science opportunities at NPS RLCs, please visit the following links:
- California Mediterranean Research Learning Center Citizen Science Program
- Cape Cod Phenology Monitoring
- Continental Divide Research Learning Center Citizen Science Projects
- Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center Citizen Science Program
- Discover Life in America, Great Smoky Mountains All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory Program
- Greater Yellowstone Science Learning Center BioBlitz
- Great Lakes Research & Education Center Citizen Science Cattail Monitoring Program
- Monitoring Pheonolgy on the Appalachian Trail
Last updated: November 15, 2016