WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Citizen Science Competitive Funding Program—now in its second year—promotes community engagement and encourages partners and volunteers to work with the Forest Service to gather valuable data that furthers land management.
The USDA Forest Service recently awarded funds to 13 diverse citizen science projects at three levels of development: Ideation, Development, and Implementation and Ongoing Projects.
“The projects are exciting because they are happening across diverse landscapes all over the country,” said Susan Stein, acting Assistant Director for Adaptive Management and Resource Information. “Citizen scientists of all ages will be exploring exciting topics such as eDNA techniques, beaver habitats, cemetery landscapes and traffic impacts on wildlife.”
Data the volunteers and partners collect will be used to identify management priorities, develop research questions, and shape conservation and management goals.
The Citizen Science Fund is designed to carry projects from the development and testing stages to implementation and continuation of ongoing projects. Once the project designs are shown to be successful and sustainable, they are documented and shared for broad adoption.
“Our process follows the incubator model, which we adopted from the private sector,” said Michelle Tamez, Forest Service Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Coordinator. “The model allows us to shepherd promising projects from their earliest phases into productive implementation, while fostering an environment for growth, training, and peer-to-peer learning.
Another component of the Citizen Science Program is the Learning Journey Cohort, consisting of a group of project leaders and other team members who work collectively to solve problems and share best practices. Best practices and lessons learned will also be shared with the national citizen science community of practice to continue building the Forest Service’s and partners’ knowledge and expertise.
The Citizen Science Fund is managed by the Forest Service’s Ecosystem Management Coordination staff in the Washington Office. A library of projects and best practices learned so far can be found in the Citizen Science Toolkit.