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Check out Brian Cox's Guide to Becoming a Citizen Scientist

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Many Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education programs focus on empowering and supporting citizen science about Minnesota's environment. The Guardian recently published a brief Guide to Becoming a Citizen Scientist by BBC-famed scientist, Brian Cox. Cox aptly points out the critical need for citizen science: We have access to so much data in the modern age, but not enough professional scientists to analyze it all. However, there is amazing, largely untapped scientific potential in our interested citizenry. Today, we can all assume a critical role in the wonder of scientific research. Cox points out, "The real thrill of citizen science is being able to look at something no one has ever seen before, or discover something that no one knew about. I can try to describe that feeling, but it's not until you experience it for yourself that you'll understand the wonder. It's why people become scientists."

Cox points out a few large-scale and smaller, personal ways that you can get started in citizen science. He also briefly discusses the history and value of citizen scientific research. Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education staff have likewise published a series of informative videos about citizen science on the University of Minnesota Extension YouTube Channel. The video What is Citizen Science provides a short description of the history and reason for citizen scientific research.

Visit the University of Minnesota Extension Citizen Science website to learn more about programming to support citizen science.

An October 4 Invasive Blitz traning at Duluth's Hartley Nature Center trained a group of northern Minnesota volunteers to prevent the spread of Invasive Species. Watch FWCE Educator, Andrea Strauss, discuss the event on Duluth television news.

Invasive species such as buckthorn, garlic mustard and wild parsnip pose serious threats to Minnesota's natural resources, ecosystems, and economy. Participants in the one day workshop learned the impact of invasive species in Minnesota. They learned to identify and remove/treat selected problem species, and provide follow-up management and monitoring. Participants also practiced planning a community project to mobilize organizations and clubs for invasive plant removal projects as part of an annual statewide "Invasive Blitz" event.

Congratulations to all of the northland participants, ready to tackle a critical Minnesota conservation issue!

Recent Post Describes How Meteor Storm Started Citizen Science

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How do the cosmos and citizen science relate? Citizen scientists have been playing important roles in astronomy for a long time, discovering objects in the night sky, mapping our cosmos, helping to analyze large amounts of data. But, a recent post in the National Geographic Star Struck blog described how an 1833 meteor storm started citizen science. While our Extension video draws a different origin point for citizen science in America, this meteor story does describe an early scientist recognition of the power of 'crowdsourcing' scientific observation and analysis. We citizen scientists can accomplish some amazing feats of science when working in coordination.

Visit our website to learn more about University of Minnesota Extension citizen science programs.

Making an Impact on MN Public Lands

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Minnesota Master Naturalists are preparing to make an impact on Minnesota's Public Lands. National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is our nation's largest single day of public service for our public lands. According to the NPLD website, the event began in 1994, involving service from 700 volunteers. Last year, the event involved "more than 175,000 volunteers and park visitors celebrated at 2,237 public land sites in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico."

Minnesota Master Naturalist will be hosting service events statewide on the 2014 National Public Lands Day - Sept 27. Events will take place statewide at locations large and small - Itasca State park, Quarry Hill Nature Center, the Northland Arboretum, and Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. We look forward to this day of service with an engaged group of statewide volunteers.

Visit the National Public Lands Day website to learn more about the day of service. Visit the Minnesota Master Naturalist website to learn more about the volunteer training and service program.

Become a leader in reducing the invasive species in your community! We are calling all volunteers from the Minnesota Master Naturalist, Master Gardener, Forest Pest First Detector and other programs. As you know, invasive species such as buckthorn, garlic mustard and wild parsnip pose serious threats to Minnesota's natural resources, ecosystems, and economy. We want YOU to join in a statewide effort to tackle the growing problem of invasive species.

Sign up for a one-day workshop (qualifies as Advanced Training or continuing education hours) from 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. on Saturday, September 13, 2014 in Spicer, MN. You will learn the impact of invasive species in Minnesota and be trained to identify and remove/treat selected problem species and provide follow-up management and monitoring. We will help you plan a local project that will mobilize organizations and clubs you belong to so you can host local invasive plant removal projects as part of an annual statewide "Invasive Blitz" event. You may even wish to adopt a local natural area (park, woodlot, camp, retreat center, etc.) you can regularly monitor and provide stewardship for into the future.

Visit the Minnesota Master Naturalist website to learn more about the Invasive Blitz workshop in Spicer MN.

Extension Co-Sponsors Pollinator Workshop

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Bumble Bee With Pollen.jpgA pollinator workshop entitled, Managing Prairies for Pollinators was held at the West Central Research Outreach & Extension Center on June 3-4, 2014. The University of Minnesota Extension and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources co-sponsored the event.

Sixty natural resource professionals attended the workshop to learn about the new legislation passed in Minnesota designed to protect pollinators. Participants were from organizations such as The Minnesota Land Trust, Great River Greening, MN DNR, SWCD, NRCS, The Nature Conservancy, USFWS, and others who manage land or help landowners make management decisions.

Speakers came from across the state to share what they know about pollinators, and to discuss areas where research is still needed. Participants were given the habitat evaluation form developed by the Xerces Society and then had a chance to do an on-site evaluation of the research station in small plots. This tool is available for landowners to use to do their own on-site evaluation helping them to plan for pollinators. One participant said, "I thought the workshop was great, tons of excellent information. It is just humbling to find out how after college, and years of managing grasslands, how little I know. Truth be told, when I went to college I never thought I would be worrying about pollinators."

You can learn more about how to protect Honey Bees and other critical pollinators on the University of Minnesota Extension website.

Post by Amy RB Rager

WIRED columnist, David Lang explored the "weird, wild world of citizen science" in a recent post on the site. In this article, Lang describes examples of citizen science projects that are helping to pinpoint the cause of a starfish disease, and rescue a vintage spacecraft for NASA. He points provocatively toward convergence of "maker" and "hobbyist" movements with scientists, who increasingly need access to larger datasets and human resources/expertise to address critical research questions. This combination, Lang suggests, will lead to a "weird, feral form of science." In his words: "How these trends ultimately play out will be our decision. The potential is for both faster and slower science. It won't work for every field of study. But for any research that also hopes to inform and educate humans to make better decisions, especially about our planet's ecology, it's a substantial improvement."

Just what is citizen science? Watch a brief video on the University of Minnesota Extension YouTube site to find out. American citizens have been contributing for centuries toward important scientific discoveries. Citizen science projects contribute toward our understanding of everything from galaxies to animals to sub-atomic particles.

Want to get involved in citizen science? The University of Minnesota Extension citizen science website is a great place to get started. The Minnesota Master Naturalist program helps to connect people who are interested in natural history with high quality volunteer opportunities like citizen science. The Monarch Larva Monitoring Program involves volunteers from across the United States and Canada in monarch research. Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inqury through Citizen Science uses citizen science as a springboard for engaging youth in the full process of authentic research. We look forward to welcoming you into these programs to dig into this "weird, wild world of citizen science".

In the News: Minnesota Master Naturalist Classes

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MMNP Logo.pngThe Minnesota Master Naturalist Program has recently been captured in two statewide news articles. The Brainerd-region Lakeland Public Television sent a reporter along with volunteer participants on a Northwoods, Great Lakes class field trip. He captured a video of a bear and porcupine that the group discovered during their outing. The Anoka-Ramsey Community College/Anoka Technical College Linked e-newsletter included a post that descibes results of college faculty to re-design a Field Biology course to encompass Master Naturalist Volunteer Certification. Fifty students and community members have been certified through the collegiate Master Naturalist classes. They have contributed hundreds of hours of community conservation service, including creation of interpretive signs for an environmental education area, building bluebird houses, creating gray wolf curricula for schools, and conducting biological inventories for a local nature center.

Congratulations to these and the many other Minnesota Master Naturalist volunteers and instructors, who contributed over fifty-five thousand hours of conservation stewardship across MN last year. Visit the program website to learn more about the University of Minnesota Extension Minnesota Master Naturalist Program.

Loegering Discusses Spring Bird Migration on Grand Forks News

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jloegeri.jpgFish, Wildlife and Conservation Education Specialist, Dr. John Loegering was featured yesterday night in a Grand Forks televsion news story about spring bird migration in the Red River Valley. According to Loegering, birds migrate to Minnesota each year to find precious habitat resources to raise their young. Song and other bird species should be returning to the state over the next few weeks.

Visit the University of Minnesota Extension Fish, wildlife, and habitats site to learn more about bird natural history and attracting birds.

The 2014 Minnesota Master Naturalist Annual Conference is fast approaching. It will be held at Camp Friendship in Annandale, MN on May 16-18. This annual conference typically involves around 100 Master Naturalist volunteers and instructors, and fulfills their annual requirement for continuing natural history education.

The 2014 confernce will encompass three days of hands-on learning in conference and field sessions. Keynotes include Dr. Lee Frelich and Dr. James Francisco Bonilla. Preconference workshops will focus on tracking MN phenology, exploring pollinators, and teaching initiative-building activitires.

Visit the Annual Conference Site to learn more about and register for this event.

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