Citizen Science

Jeanne Dunning pollinating a Eastern Prairie White Fringed Orchid at a Somme Preserve - 6/29/2014, © Lisa Culp
Jeanne Dunning pollinating an Eastern Prairie White Fringed Orchid – 6/29/2014, © Lisa Culp

What is Citizen Science?

You and a friend have a clipboard and pen in hand as you walk into the prairie in search of an endangered orchid. Shh… don’t reveal it’s top secret location! You count the orchids, put cages on them so deer and voles don’t eat them, and you report your findings to the site steward and the Chicago Botanic Garden.

If animals are your more your speed, you learn a list of frog calls and you and a buddy go out at night in one of the preserves. “I hear a spring peeper calling out for a mate! Leopard frogs are snoring their night away all around us!” You record temperature, precipitation, and what frogs you heard and hand off your data to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum so they can track populations of frogs in the Chicago region for years to come.

These and so many other opportunities are what we call “citizen science.” No PhD or A+ in chemistry required! All you need is a drive to help nature and a will to learn the ropes!

Upcoming monitor training classes can be found here.

Please see the Nature Conservancy’s  Citizen Science page for opportunities in the Chicago Wilderness region.