Crowd-Source This: Citizen Naturalist Field Day at National Park!

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From our good friends and scientists at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park:

On Saturday, July 20th, nature enthusiasts of all ages will have an opportunity to meet and work with professional naturalists at Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park (MBR), in Woodstock, Vermont, during the first-ever Vermont Atlas of Life Field Day.

Vermont Atlas of Life is an ambitious project, launched this January by the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, that seeks to use crowd-sourcing to build an interactive map of all plant and animal species in the state. By making use of iNaturalist, a popular online service that allows observers of nature to share and collectively organize their sightings, the Vermont Atlas of Life relies on data generated by “citizen scientists”–any one, with or without training, who joins the project online and contributes data on animals and plants that they see around them.

“One of the most amazing things about the nature of Vermont is how little we know,” said Kent McFarland, senior conservation biologist for the Vermont Center for Ecostudies. “The atlas will generate excitement, discoveries, and greater understanding of biodiversity across the state.”

So far, the Atlas has contributed to special initiatives, including invasive species occurrences and spring wildflower blooming. There are nearly 14,000 observations already in the database.

The Center for Ecostudies hopes to mobilize a growing network of citizen scientists by partnering with the National Park to host an Atlas of Life Field Day. VCE naturalists will lead several walks through MBR’s woodland to demonstrate how anyone, from school children to seasoned professional birders, can make research-quality observations and record their findings in the iNaturalist database–a process that can be done from any computer or smartphone after downloading a free app and creating an iNaturalist account.

Citizen scientists make important contributions to the research of professional scientists, and those who attend the Field Day will have an opportunity to do so by focusing their attention birds, insects, and plants. Insect sightings will continue for those who stay after 8PM, when participants will have the chance to contribute to another, nation-wide citizen science project, National Moth Week.

The Vermont Atlas of Life Field Day is free for all to attend. All activities will be accessible and enjoyable by children as well as adults, and families with a strong interest in science and the outdoors are encouraged to attend. Bringing a smartphone or digital camera is suggested, but not required, as is creating an iNaturalist account. For a more detailed schedule of the day’s events and links to iNaturalist.com, and please visit http://www.nps.gov/mabi/inaturalist-july-20-2013.htm

-NPS-
EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA
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