There is a lot of buzz right now about Citizen Science. Never heard of it? You are not alone. Citizen Science is “scientific work undertaken by members of the general public, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions”. The reason that this is such an important idea for Lac Lawrann is that we are almost entirely volunteer run. Collecting data on how the Conservancy is doing, water levels, lily pad growth, Bluebird nesting, all happens with the help of our Citizen Scientists. In an increasingly digital, busy and isolated world, our technology is slowly divorcing us from nature. Study after study tells us that being outside and engaging with nature puts us in a better mental state and improves our over-all health and well-being.

What if we could merge the two? Technology for the benefit of nature. Smartphones are not going away, and hopefully neither is nature. Let’s take the smartphone, iPad, FitBit, or Galaxy and use it to connect us with nature. Enter Citizen Science. Science relies on observation, and the more that we observe natural phenomena and share that information in a common space, the better understanding we gain of nature. Take pictures, track weather, record plants blooming times, or frogs singing or whatever interests you or makes you wonder. There is science in every kind of question.

Increasingly, more large research organizations are turning to citizen science to help with their long term goals. The National Audubon Society holds a Christmas Bird Count, Monarch Watch has citizen scientists capture tag and release Monarchs to chart their flight path, there are even organizations that track road kill numbers to create safe passage corridors along major highways. Even at Lac Lawrann we participate in several citizen science programs. Snapshot Wisconsin, uses trail cameras to count and tag photos of local wildlife and the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin teaches volunteers how to build nesting boxes and monitor them throughout the spring, summer and fall. If this is something that piques your interest watch our Facebook page and website for Citizen Science opportunities in the coming months. Citizen Science, you never know what we will find together!

— Meghann