8/3/2018 0 Comments
It was suggested to me that it would be helpful to share my overall feelings on hosting citizen scientists this summer and I realized I need to do it right away, before both the good and bad get washed away from my memory! So I’m sitting in my living room in New York, I’ve poured a glass of wine and am ready to debrief.
I will say right away that hosting the citizen science groups was one of the best parts of this field season. I’ve always included some component of outreach in my projects, but it usually occurs after the fact (i.e., give a talk to a bird club) or in some sort of semi-staged setting (i.e., show people my field site or my field gear). This was my first experience in really diving into citizen scientist participation, getting folks out in the field on a regular basis, collecting data that actually will be used in my research.
For those who don’t know my project, my research interests are in mercury exposure in the riparian food web – basically how mercury moves from aquatic systems to terrestrial ones. As I was planning this project, I really wanted to be able to quantify changes in bug abundance and diversity throughout the songbird breeding season (June and July in Maine). Bug collection is time intensive, especially when you want to repeat your measurements weekly. Because the folks at Acadia National Park are so supportive of outreach and citizen science, I decided to design the project where we would do quantitative/researcher led data collection paired with citizen science data collection. The goal for this year was threefold:
Now that I’ve survived the field season, here are some general things that I learned: