Library corner: Citizen Science Month
Grand County Library District's director of library resources
Science lab coats are not necessary for this citizen science project, but you may want a detective cap to protect you from the sun.
As director of library resources for Grand County Library District, I purchase the resources for our patrons. One area that keeps me alert for new and noteworthy titles is anything pertaining to science, particularly Colorado water issues. Science is especially relevant this month as April celebrates both Earth Day and Citizen Science Month.
Last summer, the library district, Grand County Water Information Network, and Upper Colorado Watershed Environment Team, (formally Upper Colorado River Watershed Group/UCRWG), collaborated to bring water quality and water bugs into fine focus for a children’s program.
Geoff Elliott, a founder of Water Information Network, gently planted a seed for another collaboration in February.
“How about joining forces for an ongoing citizen science project in which all ages and scientific abilities could participate. The data collected and shared could have a great impact on future decisions about Grand County water sources that affect so many,” said Elliott.
I was hesitant.
Then Elliott explained, “You don’t need a Ph.D. and a university laboratory to learn more about our world. In fact, with some informal training anyone can make research-grade observations that shed light on important natural processes.”
That got my attention, hook, line and sinker. After all, a character hero of mine, Sherlock Holmes, is a master of observation, deduction and reasoning, all skills that are also important to science.
We organized a meeting. Geoff summed up the outcome:
“This citizen science approach is perfect for watershed-scale studies. We can all choose one or more sites along our streams, visit, then revisit throughout the year to document conditions, fish, wildlife and even bugs that live there or even pass through seasonally. The CitSci.org app makes data sharing easy while guiding more consistent observations. As a professional scientist myself, I appreciate the curiosity and enthusiasm of our local citizen scientists of all ages. I always learn something myself along the way.”
Greg Newman, founder and director of CitSci.org and CitSci mobile app, showed our committee how amazing and easy his website is to use. There are about 1,200 citizen science projects utilizing this platform, including the Colorado Headwater BRAT survey, a pilot project near Grand Lake. You can start adding data and observations to it today.
Greg shared, “My dream is a society where all people from all backgrounds are engaged in co-creating the places in which they live together with their fellow neighbors and community members by collecting and easily submitting data and observations as guiding evidence for effective decisions that lead to thriving communities and sustainable ecosystems.”
The dream is attainable. Those who participate in the collaboration of “Adopt a Waterway Citizen Science Project” focused on the St. Louis Creek, will be creating a database that can be used for reports, projects, policy making and evidence-based decisions pertaining to our water sources. Even “novice” scientists like me can help protect our waters in meaningful ways.
To learn more, visit GCLD.org/programs, UcWet.org, or email Tgray@gcld.org. Soon, instructional brochures will be in all the district’s libraries, and presentations will be made at three Senior Lunch & Learn events in June. Find library resources under “Citizen Science Month” at GcLd.Marmot.org.
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