Citizen Naturalists & Citizen Science

What is a Citizen Naturalist?

Citizen naturalists are people concerned about the environment who choose to become involved to help on both a local and national level. Anyone can be a citizen naturalist. You just have to have a passion for nature and an interest in helping your community.

These can be simple tasks like cleaning up water sources, educating about the environment, or even submitting observations or photographs to science programs. The level of intensity is up to the volunteer.

What is Citizen Science?

Citizen science is where the public volunteers time to assist in scientific research. You don’t have to have a strong science background to be involved. For volunteers, it’s a chance to be involved in scientific research. For scientists, it’s a way to accomplish projects that are too expensive and time-consuming to do on their own and allows for a larger pool of data. Sounds like a win-win to me.

The Citizen Science Alliance (to name one of many) is a collaboration of scientists, educators, software developers, and citizen scientists that utilize internet-based citizen science projects. Their goal is to further science and increase public understanding of science and the scientific process. It’s pretty cool that you can get involved from the comfort of your own home, ONLINE.

The National Wildlife Federation is also involved with citizen science with a nature-based involvement.

A citizen science project, led by UC Berkeley and North Carolina State University, helped to predict the spread of sudden oak death that have affected thousands of trees in California. It’s pretty neat to see that everyone can be involved in science. Read the article here!

Since I am a primatologist, of course I have to put a primate-focused project on here. Chimp & See, through Zooniverse, allows the participant to explore real video clips of animals in the wild forests of Africa. As you scan through footage you mark the species and behaviors that you see. In particular, by studying the behaviour patterns of wild chimpanzees, the project scientists aim to learn more about human evolution. They also hope to study animal populations and biodiversity to identify areas for conservation. Super neat! Zooniverse has many other projects as well.

If you’re interested in citizen science projects like these, get out there and start researching to find something in your field of interest!

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