Expanding Citizen Science Horizons
The following piece was written by OAS Communications Specialist Rachel Fancsali for the Snapshot Wisconsin newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter, visit this link.
If you are interested in branching out as a volunteer scientist, there are plenty of other opportunities to explore. The Snapshot Wisconsin team wanted to highlight some of the other exciting programs that our volunteers and their loved ones may be interested in. After all, volunteer scientists play an important role in more than just wildlife research.
The state of Wisconsin has a long history of volunteer science programs. The DNR has an extensive list of its own volunteer science programs and partner projects, including programs like the Wisconsin Bumble Bee Brigade and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Monitoring Program.
But what about programs outside of Wisconsin? There are plenty of national programs available on a wide variety of topics. If you are looking for something new to dip your toes in, check out these other programs:
Community Collaborative Rain, Hail And Snow Network (CocoRaHS)
- A community-based volunteer network of weather observers working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow) in their local communities.
- CocoRaHS data is used by meteorologists, hydrologists, teachers, engineers and organizations such as the National Weather Service and the USDA.
- Visit the Wisconsin chapter of CocoRaHS.
- Volunteers report the calls of local frogs and toads heard during evenings from February to August, depending on the area and peak breeding season for local species. The data are then loaded into a public database, similar to Snapshot Wisconsin’s Data Dashboard.
- Partnered with the Citizen Science Academy (hosted by the Chicago Botanic Garden) and the National Geographic Society, FrogWatch USA data is used to help develop practical strategies for conserving frog and toad species.
- Visit FrogWatch USA to learn more.
- Map Earth’s oceans in this videogame that trains an artificial intelligence for a NASA supercomputer using FluidCam’s 3D images of the seafloor, the first instrument that can see through waves.
- Players identify coral reefs, other shallow marine environments and marine animals using 2D satellite and drone images and 3D reconstructions of underwater environments. Player classifications are used to teach the convolutional neural network (CNN) called NeMO-Net and help scientists better understand and protect coral reefs globally.
- To dive in, visit NASA NeMo-Net.
The Secchi Dip-In
- Operated by the North American Lake Management Society, this program collects water clarity measurements from rivers, lakes and estuaries to track water quality changes across the continent. Over the past 20 years, the database has accumulated more than 41,000 records on over 7,000 individual waterbodies.
- Volunteers are taught how to take water clarity measurements primarily using a Secchi disk unless the water body is a river or stream that would require a turbidity tube or black disk. Data is primarily collected in July, but the program does accept data year-round!
- Visit the Secchi Dip-In project site, then spend a day on the lake.
We certainly appreciate our volunteers at Snapshot Wisconsin, and we know these programs also appreciate their volunteers. Whether you want to expand your citizen science portfolio into finding collection water samples, listening to frog songs or teaching an AI, there are plenty of options. Have fun exploring!