Report Authors: Ella Weaver, Anne Baird, and Nicole Jackson
“Taking Flight with Citizen Science” was a pilot workshop series developed in 2019 for Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists. The series highlighted current statewide citizen science data collection projects including the Ohio Breeding Bird Survey, Ohio Bee Atlas, and Ohio HerpMapper.
Citizen science involves public collaboration in scientific research and has become an increasingly critical part of environmental research. The need for Ohioans to have access to training and education related to citizen science has becomes important as more Ohioans are contributing to citizen science efforts. Pilot series leaders for each workshop included Bill Peterman (Assistant Professor in Wildlife Ecology and Management in SENR), Matthew Shumar (Program Coordinator for the Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative), and Denise Ellsworth (Program Coordinator for Ohio State Entomology Extension). Applications such as HerpMapper, iNaturalist (with projects such as Ohio Bee Atlas), and eBird are apps used to assist volunteers in identifying and documenting species and are publicly available to scientists for research.
Between April and August 2019, three pilot workshops were held for 21 participants. Participants developed knowledge and skills to help them identify and document birds, amphibians and reptiles, and bees using citizen science tools. The workshops were structured for maximum engagement and included: personal skills inventory, classroom presentations, fieldwork, and group discussions. Workshop objectives included:
- Learn how and why citizen science is being used and how to participate effectively;
- Build awareness of the range of citizen science projects available and specific tools; and
- Network with and learn from others
Both knowledge and skill changes were identified from the participants of the three workshops. Reported knowledge and skill gains included:
- How to get started as a citizen scientist
- Websites and apps
- Field techniques
- Species identification
- How to make a useful entry into the monitoring app; and
- How to handle specimens and equipment
Participants reported plans to participate in future citizen science projects and education and outreach including using the applications specific to each topic area for future monitoring, increasing their identification skills, and planning future programs for sharing this information with others.
Recommendations for Future:
- Narrow the number of species discussed to avoid overloading participants
- Structure workshops to include more time in the field and more time learning the app set up on personal devices
- Include beginning and advanced sessions with more focused themes/topics to diverse meet audience needs
- Provide instruction and resources for those participants that are interested in teaching about citizen science; and
- Offer workshops on weekends for audience members who work
Anne Baird, Program Director, The Ohio State University, School of Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist and Ohio Watershed Network