There are many research programs currently using backyard wildlife enthusiasts to collect information about various species and their changes in distribution and abundance locally. It's a great way to become better at identification and to engage kids in learning about the natural world they live with. If you are interested in getting involved, take a look through the following sites. 

Citizen Science

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Pond Watch is a project to better understand and conserve North America's dragonfly migration.  Dragonfly experts, nongovernmental programs, academic institutions, and federal agencies from the United States, Mexico, and Canada have formed the collaborative Migratory Dragonfly Partnership (MDP).

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Bumble Bee Watch is a collaborative effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees. This community science project allows for individuals to:

  • Upload photos of bumble bees to start a virtual bumble bee collection;

  • Identify the bumble bees in your photos and have your identifications verified by experts;

  • Help researchers determine the status and conservation needs of bumble bees;

  • Help locate rare or endangered populations of bumble bees; ...

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In an effort to better understand Monarch ecology, researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed a Monarch Larval Monitoring Program (MLMP) to collect data on larval Monarch populations and milkweed habitat. Volunteers from across the United States and Canada monitor Monarchs and milkweed in their areas, and their data are used to answer questions about Monarch ecology during the breeding season.

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The Dragonfly Mercury Project engages citizen scientists such as students and teachers in the collection of juvenile dragonflies, also known as dragonfly larvae, from national parks for mercury analysis.
Mercury is a toxic pollutant that can often enters parks as air pollution from distant, human-caused sources, like coal-burning power plants. Dragonfly larvae are excellent indicators of mercury risk.

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Cornell University Ornithology Lab runs FeederWatch - a November-April survey of birds that visit backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. You don’t even need a feeder! All you need is an area with plantings, habitat, water or food that attracts birds. The schedule is completely flexible. Count your birds for as long as you like on days of your choosing, then enter your counts online. 

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The Monarch Watch Tagging Program is a large-scale community science project that was initiated in 1992 to help understand the dynamics of the monarch's spectacular fall migration through mark and recapture.

Tagging was originally used by Dr. Fred Urquhart of the University of Toronto help locate overwintering monarchs and later to determine where monarchs came from that wintered in Mexico. Our long-range tagging program at Monarch Watch continues to reveal much more...

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The North American Butterfly Association has run the Butterfly Count Program in the United States, Canada, and Mexico since 1993. Each of the approximately 450 counts consists of a compilation of all butterflies observed at sites within a 15-mile diameter count circle in a one-day period.

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Also the Cornell Ornithology Lab, Each February, for four days, the world comes together for the love of birds. Over these four days we invite people to spend time in their favorite places watching and counting as many birds as they can find and reporting them to us. These observations help scientists better understand global bird populations before one of their annual migrations.

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Caterpillars Count! is a citizen science project for measuring the seasonal variation, also known as phenology, and abundance of arthropods like caterpillars, beetles, and spiders found on the foliage of trees and shrubs. Click to find out more and sign up!

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Pond Watch is a project to better understand and conserve North America's dragonfly migration.  Dragonfly experts, nongovernmental programs, academic institutions, and federal agencies from the United States, Mexico, and Canada have formed the collaborative Migratory Dragonfly Partnership (MDP).

IMG_4285.jpeg

Bumble Bee Watch is a collaborative effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees. This community science project allows for individuals to:

  • Upload photos of bumble bees to start a virtual bumble bee collection;

  • Identify the bumble bees in your photos and have your identifications verified by experts;

  • Help researchers determine the status and conservation needs of bumble bees;

  • Help locate rare or endangered populations of bumble bees; ...

IMG_3586.JPEG

In an effort to better understand Monarch ecology, researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed a Monarch Larval Monitoring Program (MLMP) to collect data on larval Monarch populations and milkweed habitat. Volunteers from across the United States and Canada monitor Monarchs and milkweed in their areas, and their data are used to answer questions about Monarch ecology during the breeding season.

IMG_5166.JPEG

The Dragonfly Mercury Project engages citizen scientists such as students and teachers in the collection of juvenile dragonflies, also known as dragonfly larvae, from national parks for mercury analysis.
Mercury is a toxic pollutant that can often enters parks as air pollution from distant, human-caused sources, like coal-burning power plants. Dragonfly larvae are excellent indicators of mercury risk.

IMG_3933.jpg

Cornell University Ornithology Lab runs FeederWatch - a November-April survey of birds that visit backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. You don’t even need a feeder! All you need is an area with plantings, habitat, water or food that attracts birds. The schedule is completely flexible. Count your birds for as long as you like on days of your choosing, then enter your counts online. 

IMG_2921.JPEG

The Monarch Watch Tagging Program is a large-scale community science project that was initiated in 1992 to help understand the dynamics of the monarch's spectacular fall migration through mark and recapture.

Tagging was originally used by Dr. Fred Urquhart of the University of Toronto help locate overwintering monarchs and later to determine where monarchs came from that wintered in Mexico. Our long-range tagging program at Monarch Watch continues to reveal much more...

IMG_0937.JPEG

The North American Butterfly Association has run the Butterfly Count Program in the United States, Canada, and Mexico since 1993. Each of the approximately 450 counts consists of a compilation of all butterflies observed at sites within a 15-mile diameter count circle in a one-day period.

IMG_5773.jpg

Also the Cornell Ornithology Lab, Each February, for four days, the world comes together for the love of birds. Over these four days we invite people to spend time in their favorite places watching and counting as many birds as they can find and reporting them to us. These observations help scientists better understand global bird populations before one of their annual migrations.

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US Forest Service Citizen Science Projects. Click the button above to go to the USFS site to see if there are specific projects in your area.