Citizen Science Programs – -Spicing up your spring and summer activities

January 19, 2013 5:54 pm Published by 2 Comments


            All around Pennsylvania citizens and scientists are becoming involved in a fairly new program called iConservePA.   By citizens, I mean anyone from five to ninety.   Everyone can become part of the Citizen Science Program.   This is a nationwide program with the Pennsylvania portion being coordinated by Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).   For information about the overall ideas within the DCNR programs you can go to

            A few of the areas up and running in the local portion of the Citizen Science agenda are the following:

Frog Watch – – coordinators   Erie Zoo

            Frog watch USA is a frog and toad monitoring program where local volunteers learn the calls of local frog species, identifying them by song in the field and record their findings online.  The training and assignments are coordinated by the Erie Zoo.    Call Kimberly Bowes at 864-4091 for information.

Purple Martin Society

            The Purple Martin Conservation Association (PMCA) is dedicated to the conservation of Purple Martins through scientific research and public education.  The end goal of PMCA is increasing martin populations throughout North America.  Currently there are four projects that should be of interest to anyone who erects martin housing or is considering doing so.  Contact PMCA at 833-7556 or

Presque Isle Weed Warriors

            The weed warriors are a group of volunteers that assist with the restoration of the unique Presque Isle State Park ecosystems by identifying and/or removing non-native plant species and helping to reestablish native plants.   There are many opportunities that range from simple plant identification and location mapping through becoming a lead steward.   For more info, contact Matt Pluta at 814 217-9012

Birds in your Backyard

The National Audubon Society hosts yearly bird counts including the Christmas Bird Count and the end of winter bird event called the Great Backyard Bird Count.  Anyone can participateno matter your skill level or location.    Visit their website at or call the state office at 610 666-5593 for info.

The Natural History Collection at Tom Ridge Environmental Center

            This is Northwestern Pennsylvania’s hidden jewel.  It is a collection that has evolved into a significant resource of natural history specimens primarily from this area.  This museum, which includes vascular plants, insects, mollusks, fish, amphibians, retiles, birds and mammals, is an initiative of DCNR and is managed by Pennsylvania Sea Grant program.  In this ongoing program Citizen scientists are encouraged to submit field notes and natural history observations year round.   Visit their website or contact Mark Lethaby at

March Monitoring

March Monitoring volunteers monitor birds and amphibians in marsh habitats.  This program provides information on the population status of these animals, information about their habitat requirements and an assessment of wetland restoration efforts.   Data collected by program volunteers are an important contribution to the conservation and management of wetlands and their wildlife.   To register call 1 888-448-2473  or visit the website at


            If you are interested in expanding your horizon in the area of science, the environment and /or general nature subjects, I suggest you go to the following Citizen Science related website.   Some of the projects currently operating include the following:

  • Squirreling Around    This project asks all citizen scientist to count the number of squirrels in a neighborhood and report their finding.  In effect you become a squirrel monitor.   Anyone, anywhere can become part of this nationwide program.
  • Water Wonders   Monitoring your local water quality is an excellent exercise in citizen science, as well as a great way to develop or hone your scientific skills.  NASA has a page for people who want to get started in water monitoring projects.
  • Monarch Mayhem!!   Each year, the University of Kansas monitors the migration of Monarch butterflies.   Join them this coming fall and record data on Monarchs that fly through your community on their journey south.
  • Fabulous Firefly Festivities  This summer help the Boston Museum of Science monitor the fireflies in your yard, area or any particular place you chose.  With just an occasional visit to your backyard to count fireflies, you could be helping scientists around the country study firefly behavior, health and population changes.


By being part of one of the hundreds of Citizen Science programs, you can accomplish five different things which are:                  

  1. You will get outside and off the couch.
  2. You will be learning something about nature, the environment or wildlife.
  3. You will be part of helping a large scientific project that is improving our world.
  4. You just might have some fun.
  5. You might meet some fairly neat people.

I hope you will consider at least looking at where you might be of help.


See you on the park!!


Categorised in: ,

This post was written by admin


  • Darlene says:

    Thanks for sharing this and for referencing SciStarter. As the founder of the site and a resident of PA, I’m especially excited about these opportunities you’ve highlighted!
    Thanks again,
    Darlene Cavalier

  • Amy Bovaird says:

    Hi Gene,
    Thanks for all this information! I had no idea there were so many aspects of Presque Isle to enjoy in winter!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *