By Jeri Weiss
Each fall when I was a kid, my family would throw on hiking boots, pack a lunch and a thermos of hot chocolate and drive about 45 minutes to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, Penn. There, we would take a short hike up the mountain, find a rocky outcrop to sit on and join the other birders – waiting, watching and counting the raptors in migration.
It never occurred to me that many years later I would be encouraging others to join the ranks of citizen scientists to help protect our planet. In fact, it never occurred to me that the 11-year-old me was a citizen scientist until this year when I started organizing a workshop in Brattleboro, Vermont for citizen scientists.
“Citizen Scientists Making a World of Difference” will be held Saturday morning April 9 in Brattleboro, and is open to anyone who wants to learn more about how to be a citizen scientist.
There are so many ways to participate in research no matter where you live. Whether your passion is watching hawks, catching butterflies, chasing bugs, or even taking photographs, you can contribute to our understanding of the world.
The workshop, from 9:30 am to Noon at the Robert H. Gibson River Garden at 157 Main St. in Brattleboro, will feature more than a dozen organizations, offering people ways to help protect the water, the land, identify critters and plants in the woods and along the river banks.
The options range from helping salamanders cross the street and checking water temperature to photographing insects, birds or plants and entering the information into your smartphone. While you are there you’ll meet like-minded neighbors who are also looking to get involved. And you will learn how even the smallest contributions make a big difference, whether you have a single hour, or a few hours every week.
Citizen scientists can be 8 or 88 – there are projects for everyone. In addition to information on what you can do in the field, the morning will offer hands-on activities. A water table will simulate what happens when a river is flooded, and what people can do – then and there – to make a difference. You can build a seed bomb to take away with you and use it to help stabilize stream banks that have been eroded by floods like Irene.
This workshop was organized by a committee of staff from Vermont Watershed Management Division; Town of Brattleboro; the Southeast Vermont Watershed Alliance; the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center; and Windham County Natural Resources Conservation District, as well as EPA New England. They all have something to share. You can find out more about the event here Exit http://tinyurl.com/he44bfc
Jeri Weiss is a drinking water specialist at EPA and helped organize the Citizens Science Workshop.