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Citizen Scientist

 
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I know of a few places such as butterflies and moths, the bloom clock project for citizen scientists to get involved. Then there are other places for sharing knowledge such as permies, appropedia wikispecies, and the permaculture design wikibook.

So my question is, what are some other projects that people can get involved in as citizen scientists? This idea of a citizen scientists just is really cool to me.

Not sure if this is the right place for this but it is about communication if you ask me.

 
pollinator
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You can start your own projects, and then spend the rest of your time explaining to people why you aren't a nut case.

I have wood chip piles which I inoculate with fungi to create mycelial mulches; I have to explain to the neighbors why I have "unsightly piles".

I inoculate them with fungi I collect at the local mall; I have to explain to mall security why I traipse around the parking lot picking mushrooms.

I am developing methods to harvest kudzu and turn it into animal feed; I get looks from people when I stop at a vacant lot to chop some sacks of kudzu.

I wanted to start a tree planting program, so I collect bald cypress cones in the winter; any time you pay extra attention to a landscape tree, say pick cones or take a cutting, people look around to see if you are going to put it into the shopping cart with all your other belongings that you are pushing.

I cook some of my wood chips into biochar and use it in the garden; fortunately having a burn barrel is normal for this neighborhood.

Scientists are supposed to wear white coats and hide out in their labs. If you dress as a regular citizen and go about your scientific activities in public, you're likely to arouse the wrath of people who think you are up to no good, or in the language of today, "you might be a terrorist".
 
Daniel Kern
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Hahaha. Good stuff. I understand what your saying. Thanks for the ideas.
 
steward
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Citizen Scientists such as Paul Wheaton and Thunderfoot create their own youtube channels . Don't forget to post your results here on permies first for peer review .
 
gardener
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Two great resources that I must point out for Citizen Scientists is that if you need a lab or equipment to work with: Genspace and the DIY-Bio community ( diybio.org ) are always helpful.

Another project I have heard of is Project Noah. Also, I know that many local and state conservation organizations will allow people to adopt plants that need help increasing their population. Then, when the plants are ready, they can be returned to their environment.
 
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I love citizen scientist work. There's a ton of projects here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/citizen-science/ and many other places.

You can also search the type of project you are interested in - i.e "watershed protection" or state to see what comes up.
 
Dave Burton
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BUMP! I came across another cool citizen science website: SciStarter
Another specific project that I recently learned about is the LifeScanner which works alongside the International Barcode of Life project to catalog and identify biodiversity throughout the world.
 
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You might want to check out the foldscope website. I don't think they are avaible for sale yet, but they are very cheap microscopes which can used in a variety of settings.
 
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John I'm a newbie I wonder if you can explain the process of inoculating your woodchip pile. I have about 10 yards of chips right now and a bunch of birch boletes in the front yard. What should I do?
 
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Here are a few thoughts and suggestions.

First, many River or Stream Watcher organizations have good citizen scientist programs with trainings and mentors to help folks monitor waterway quality. Checking the Web sites of the ones in your region will let you know what they offer.

Second, the USA National Phenology Network is set up to help citizen scientists (or at least nature lovers who want to take their love of nature to the next level in a systematic way). In a nutshell, phenology is the process of watching and recording how species change over a period of time in relation to climatic conditions. The Web site https://www.usanpn.org can explain in more detail.

Finally, the Weather Underground has a network of folks who have set up personal weather stations and feed the info to the wunderground.com Web site; http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/about.asp

Hope this helps
Rob
 
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This is an idea whose time has come! I'm working with a benefit corp, Grow Games Interactive, that is going to be launching one of the world's largest citizen science initiatives using social media and video games to propagate the ideas and technology.

It's called SEEDS: The Game, and its all about implementing permaculture and then documenting the results with relevant climate, microclimate, soil, and technical information. We're looking for partners and team members as we build our first prototype, and we've already got Elaine Ingham on board as an advisor. Hopefully we can get someone like Paul to advise as well, wink wink...
 
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After 9 years of fossil collecting with my son who is now in college, I have initiated a project to uncover skeletal elements from the earliest tetrapods in north central Pennsylvania under the guidance of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. The site has produced a couple jaws and some pectoral elements but nothing since about 2000. I am jackhammering the ledge that these specimens were found in. Kind of the brute force approach. So these fossils are interesting in understanding how I ended up being able to sit here and type this but this site also has one of the best preserved assemblages of plant fossils allowing a reconstruction of the paleo-environment these animals evolved in. It is clear that this environment was one of the earliest polycultures and must have created deep rich soils. If you're interested in more info here is the website for the fossil site:
http://www.devoniantimes.org/who/pages/who.html
 
gardener
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One of the original "citizen science" networks are the bird watching community.  Audubon Society is one place they tend to meet up and exchange information: http://www.audubon.org/

Another big one are astronomers, new asteroids and comets are still often discovered by citizens with telescopes, because the sky is just very, very big and even big telescopes don't have the funding or time to watch it all.  Many areas have amateur astronomy societies, or planetariums or universities that may sponsor events.  Nasa's Night Sky Network is one formal project space: https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/

University extension services (USDA) are often more conservative (following conventional dogma, largely funded by agri-biz), but can still be a good resource for getting soil tests, water tests, and connecting with current, local resource in crops, climate, and alternative agriculture.  If you combine regular, conventional soil testing with your own experiments in sustainable, regenerative amendments, you can document your soil-building practices over time.  
(You might also want to look into alternatives such as brix testing, to document the quality of produce not just soils.  Conventional soil tests are more about mineral/chemical balance, and may not measure all the life-giving qualities of the soil as well as some organic/biodynamic/permie people might wish.)

Farmers' markets are also a good place to network to find farmers who share your interest in scientific method, and look for ways to join in ongoing experiments in seed and plant breeding, local "land races" or climate-tolerant varietals, optimal soil building practices and soil amendments for your local conditions, etc.  

International Rose Test Gardens can be found in a lot of urban areas, growing out plots of prize-winning roses to test for climate tolerance.  Other Test Gardens are often sponsored by garden societies, universities, or city parks.  

 
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The Wildflower Center remains a self-funded unit of The University of Texas at Austin, with critical operating support coming from admissions, memberships, donations and other sources of earned revenue.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is the largest all-native garden in the state, with 284 acres of gardens and natural areas that feature more than 800 native plant species from the mountains of West Texas to the Coastal Prairies. The center’s 16-acre Mollie Steves Zachry Texas Arboretum features native trees from across the state, including the progeny of historically significant live oak trees (the “Hall of Texas Heroes”).

Since its establishment in 1982 by Lady Bird Johnson and Helen Hayes, the Wildflower Center has committed itself to serving the state and nation through its conservation, education, research and consulting programs.

https://www.wildflower.org/pressroom/state-garden-texas


https://www.wildflower.org/plants-main/whats-in-season/
 
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If you ever want to study bears, come and see us.  
 
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