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[ How to Become a Citizen Naturalist ]

How to Become a Citizen Naturalist


Sparechangemedia / Flickr


It doesn’t take a science degree to help conservationists in
your region monitor wildlife and undertake other important duties for ecosystem
health. Citizen science, a practice
through which members of the public assist scientists’ research, is growing in
popularity, spawning conferences,
school programs, publications and more.

Do you want to learn more about the wildlife in your area
and contribute vital knowledge for its protection? Become a citizen naturalist!
Here’s how:

Make a list of your
. Are you a birdwatcher who wants to share your discoveries with
the world? Do you love to kayak? Do you like getting outside in the winter?
Cataloging your interests will help you identify an appropriate opportunity.

Reach out.
Contact your local university, conservation nonprofit,
cooperative extension or
government office to find out what research opportunities are available to the

Learn your wildlife.
Do you know how to tell the difference between the mating calls of a green frog
and those of a bull frog? Before hitting the field, citizen scientists usually
receive training on how to identify targeted species.

Start counting.
Audubon’s Great Backyard Bird Count,
National Geographic’s BioBlitz
and FrogWatch USA are some popular
citizen science surveys that give researchers a better picture of animal
populations. The National Wildlife Federation has a more complete list
of opportunities here

Go mobile. New digital
technologies have made it easier than ever to track the wildlife around you. Apps
like Leafsnap and  iNaturalist
let you record species sightings on your mobile device.

Analyze. Citizen
scientists don’t just collect data: they can also help analyze it. Try it from
the convenience of the web by taking a few minutes to count creatures on the
sea floor or identify recorded whale songs through Zooniverse.

Pass it on. Children
can make a difference too! Share your passion for nature with the kids in your
life by browsing the free lesson plans and ideas from the National Environmental Education
or starting a schoolyard bioblitz.

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