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Engaging the Public in Observing Changes in the Environment George R. Kish, U.S. Geological Survey, Tampa, FL USA NATIONAL PHENOLOGY NETWORK Jake Weltzin.

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Presentation on theme: "Engaging the Public in Observing Changes in the Environment George R. Kish, U.S. Geological Survey, Tampa, FL USA NATIONAL PHENOLOGY NETWORK Jake Weltzin."— Presentation transcript:

1 Engaging the Public in Observing Changes in the Environment George R. Kish, U.S. Geological Survey, Tampa, FL USA NATIONAL PHENOLOGY NETWORK Jake Weltzin Executive Director USA National Phenology Network National Coordinating Office 1955 E. Sixth St., Tucson, AZ (520) FLORIDA PHENOLOGY NETWORK George R. Kish Coordinator National Coordinating Office USA-NPN Partnerships in Florida Stewart Middle School Climate Literacy Pilot St. Marks NWR Citizen Science, Education, and Outreach Goals Engage public in long-term phenological data collection and analysis through formal and informal science education programs Engender self-directed, voluntary learning using inquiry-based approaches Provide training in the tools and applications of phenological studies to citizens and scientists Enhance opportunities for the public to interact with research scientists. Introduction The understanding of science for students of all ages depends upon the ability of scientists to describe complex environmental issues in simple terms. Field observations of the natural world s responses to environmental change have traditionally been conducted by university researchers and government scientists. However, due to increasingly limited resources, students and other citizen scientists are being recruited to help with this undertaking. The growing ranks of student and citizen science observers could be mentored to observe and record detailed environmental, ecological, and phenological[1] events to enhance scientific investigations. In 2009, the Florida Phenology Workshop brought together research scientists, citizen scientists, and resource managers to develop lists of taxa important for phenological observation in Florida (Kish, et. al., 2009). Subsequently, a pilot program was started to teach students and citizen scientists about the relation between biological timing and changes in the environment by using Nature s Notebook[2]. The pilot program seeks to teach students of varied cultural and educational backgrounds, including: 1) middle schools with limited resources for natural resources/environmental education, 2) non governmental organizations with volunteers of varying levels of scientific knowledge, 3) cooperative extension offices using environmental concepts to educate the public about sustainable practices, and 4) undergraduate university students majoring in environmental science. Bonney, et. al. (2009) described a range of public participation projects and models focused on informal science education. They suggested an assessment procedure for describing public participation in research projects to include six categories: 1) awareness, knowledge, and understanding, 2) engagement or interest, 3) skills, 4) attitudes, 5) behaviors – regarding participation, and 6) socio-economic impact. Categories of conceptual models included 1) contributory (citizen scientists collect data), 2) collaborative (citizen scientists collect/analyze data and contribute to conclusions), and 3) co-created (citizen scientists and research scientists designing and implementing projects together). The Florida pilot program is an example of the collaborative model where citizen scientists collect and record observations; assist in the design of data collection methods; and participate in interpreting and drawing conclusions. The Florida pilot program includes participants with a wide variety of interest and scientific knowledge; the effectiveness of the pilot program will be assessed using the rubric proposed by Bonney, et. al. (2009). Description of Programs Climate Literacy Pilot – Middle school students will establish a plant phenology trail at an urban riparian restoration area along the Hillsborough River in Tampa, FL. Stewart Middle School students will add plantings, observe phenophases of plants and pollinators, and measure sea-level rise in the in the riparian restoration area (fig. 1). The phenology pilot is part of a NSF climate literacy grant awarded to the University of South Florida and the University of Puerto Rico. [1] Phenology refers to recurring plant and animal life cycle stages [2] Nature s Notebook is a project of the USA National Phenology Network NGO Citizen Science in Nature Preserves – Volunteers from the Florida Native Plant Society, Florida Audubon, and others are observing plants and wildlife along designated phenology trails at Chinsegut Nature Preserve and St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, and local conservation areas. University of South Florida Botanical Gardens – Undergraduate students in the Environmental Science and Policy Program developed a phenology trail for observing plant and animal phenology in wetland and upland conservation areas within the Botanical Gardens (fig. 2). Florida Cooperative Extension – The USA National Phenology Network is partnering with the University of Florida Cooperative Extension to engage and teach volunteers to participate in plant and animal phenology observations throughout Florida. This program started as a pilot for individual county cooperative extension offices. The University of Florida Cooperative Extension is developing capacity to teach phenology observation principles as part of the Florida Sustainability curriculum and through the Florida Master Naturalist and Florida Master Gardeners programs. The program emphasizes the relation between phenology and a changing environment and builds skill though plant and animal taxonomy and phenophase identification (figs. 3-4). Initial assessment, category 1 (awareness, knowledge, and understanding) from Bonney, et. al. (2009) for a phenology workshop recently completed indicates that attendees have acquired substantial awareness, knowledge, and understanding about observing phenology (fig. 5). Next Steps Results from this pilot study will be used to: 1) assess the effectiveness of citizen science activities in Florida, 2) incorporate phenology concepts to enhance ecology milestones for middle and high school curricula unique to Florida s environment, 3) assist educators in the development of resources to be used in school programs, and 4) develop phenology networks to include nature preserves, school yards, backyards, botanical gardens, and parks for a long-term source of outdoor environmental education opportunities. References Bonney, R., Ballard, H., Jordan, R., McCallie, E., Phillips, T., Shirk, J., and Wilderman, C. C Public Participation in Scientific Research: Defining the Field and Assessing Its Potential for Informal Science Education. A CAISE Inquiry Group Report. Washington, D.C.: Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE). Kish, G.R., Sheftall, W.L., Reinman, J., and Farmer, A.L., 2010, First Florida phenology workshop, Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America: v.91, no.2, pp Figure 1. Stewart Middle School Figure 2. Botanical Gardens Figure 3. Cooperative Extension Phenology Workshop Prunus serotina, Black Cherry Small deciduous tree to 50 ft Leaves-Alternate, with toothed margins; 3-5 in. long, may have red at petiole or leaf base, toothed tip, with reddish glands at leaf base Flowers-Drooping spike of small, white ¼ in flowers in spring Fruit-Round, ¼ berry changing from red to black as ripens Bark-Dark brown, rough on old trees Often confused with P. caroliniana, Cherry Laurel, which is evergreen and has flowers along the stem and not in spikes. Note difference in leaves below. Figure 4. Plant ID Figure 5. Knowledge assessment results


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