Public participation in scientific research, or citizen science is an important element of many University of Minnesota Extension Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education programs. In the NSF-funded Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science, staff support research teams of youth and adult leaders in using citizen science to spark their own scientific investigations. Staff are cooperating with Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers to monitor seasonal changes for a few key indicators of localized climate change. The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) is a citizen science project involving volunteers from across the United States and Canada in monarch research. Over the years, MLMP citizen scientists have monitored and collected tens of thousands of Monarch caterpillars. Data from their observations have helped Specialist, Karen Oberhauser, learn about Monarch parasites.
Last week, the Wilson Center hosted a forum on new visions for Citizen Science. In the words of U.S. EPA's Deputy Administrator, Bob Perciasepe, "Citizen science isn't a fresh idea. It's tried and proven, and we've been at it for generations. But times have changed." Mobile technology, GPS, cheaper sensors, and other technologies may be able to amplify the impact of our next generation of Citizen Scientists. Visit the Wilson Center website to view a recording of the forum. You can also download the companion New Visions in Citizen Science report.