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Citizen & Community Science Resources

Citizen & community science projects leverage the deeper interest of nature watchers to record observations and collect data that contribute toward research and management actions on the ground. With partnerships and collection tools readily available online and through our citizen science funded programs, the contributions of nature watchers can make all the difference in protecting species and their habitats. Check out these resources to get started:

  • Forest Service Citizen Science Program - gives NatureWatch enthusiasts opportunities to participate in data collection and monitoring with partners of national forests and grasslands.
  • Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Community of Practice
  • Citizen Science Funded Projects with U.S. Forest Service and Partners
  • Forest Service Crowdsourcing & Citizen Science Community of Practice Webinars to familiarize you with the projects and protocols.
  • Natural Inquirer-Citizen Science edition is a downloadable guide for educators and middle school students to learn how to conduct and publish citizen science research using scientific methods and experiential learning activities
  • iNaturalist – puts the power of tracking observations, linking with experts, and recording your data as a citizen scientist into the palm of your hand through easy apps and other online resources about almost every taxa on the planet.
  • Nature's Notebook is a national plant and animal phenology observation program helping scientists, educators, policy makers, and resource managers to understand how plants and animals are responding to climate and other environmental changes.
  • SciStarter offers "Your Research Mission," with a different citizen science project highlighted daily, or choose a project to assist from a variety of locations or times (beach, home, at night, at school).
  • Project Noah is a tool to explore and document all types of plants and animals, allowing contributors to upload their photos, georeferenced to a map, to share with and learn from citizen scientists everywhere.
  • DiscoverLife is a free, online tool to identify species, share ways to teach and study nature's wonders, report findings, build maps, process images, and contribute to and learn from a growing, interactive encyclopedia of life that now has over 1.2 million species pages.
  • Encyclopedia of Life is another free, online collection of information about all life on Earth in text, images, video, sounds, maps, and classifications.

Plants & Pollinators

The influences of changing phenology can have detrimental effects on food supplies and ecosystem sustainability. Plants that flower earlier than their pollinators can suffer from reduced or no pollination, which results in low or no seed or fruit production. Increased temperatures can lead to plant ranges slowly drifting northward or to higher elevations over time. Reporting when and what you see in plants throughout the seasons is a very important step to helping both humans and animals adapt to a rapidly changing landscape.

  • Monarch Joint Venture - Participate in community and citizen science opportunities throughout the Americas and tap into networks of educators and scientists representing Federal, state, and local organizations.
  • Journey North - Track the migration of Monarch butterflies, birds, and other animals.
  • Project BudBurst runs spring through autumn to monitor plants as the seasons change. NatureWatchers collect ecological data based on the timing of leafing, flowering, and fruiting of plants (plant phenophases) targeting 97 native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses. This data gives scientists insights into prevailing climatic characteristics in a region over time. The site also houses some great online plant identification guides!
  • The Great Sunflower Project gathers information about urban, suburban and rural bees and other pollinators visiting sunflowers in your yard and garden.
  • The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) Butterfly Counts gather data to help monitor butterfly populations, give butterfly enthusiasts the opportunity to meet one another and network, and raise awareness through butterfly-themed events.
  • The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) is a citizen science project involving volunteers from across the United States and Canada who collect data on larval monarch populations and milkweed habitat, with a focus on monarch distribution and abundance during the breeding season in North America.

Earth, Sea, & Sky

  • Track meteoroids, report night sky visibility, or discover supernovas with and NASA Citizen Scientists opportunities.
  • Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) is the largest source of daily precipitation observations in the United States. Volunteers report and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow).
  • Earth Echo Water Challenge runs annually from March 22 (World Water Day) through December, enlisting citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local waterbodies.
  • Great Lakes Worm Watch helps track the presence, absence and spread of exotic earthworms in the Great Lakes Region. This site includes some great identification guides and other information about worms!

Bird Watching

  • eBird - Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology shows the best birding locations and networks birdwatchers around the world.
  • Audubon Christmas Bird Count - From 1901 to present, the bird watching community has compiled their bird sightings through the month of December