Community science is a term used for programs that use people — like you — to help collect data for scientists to use. Participating in a community science project provides a reason to get outside and put your observation skills to work. The added bonus? The data you collect is used by scientists for all kinds of reasons, including tracking animal migrations, learning about the impacts of changing climates, and determining population shifts or range of certain species — no training needed.
Check out the community science opportunities listed below, pick one that interests you and get started today!
Locating Eastern Spotted Skunks
Help the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission locate this elusive species. Different from the more common striped skunk, Eastern Spotted Skunks are often found near abandoned farm structures.
The goal of this project is to learn where in the state we can find our target species — Regal Fritillary and Monarch butterflies — to better understand their relative abundance and the habitat they are using.
Lincoln City Nature Challenge
The City Nature Challenge is an annual friendly competition among cities across the globe to find and document plants and wildlife over a four-day period. In Nebraska, the City Nature Challenge is taking place in Scottsbluff County/Scottsbluff, Madison County/Norfolk, Omaha Metro, Lancaster County/Lincoln and Lincoln County/North Platte. The CNC usually runs from the end of April through the start of May. For this year’s dates and information on how to participate, click the link below.
Nebraska Amphibian Monitoring
NGPC and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are requesting sightings throughout the state of tiger and smallmouth salamanders to document their range and abundance.
Nebraska Bumblebee Atlas
The Nebraska Bumble Bee Atlas is a collaborative project to track and conserve bumble bees throughout the state. The project goal is to gain a better understanding of the distribution of Nebraska’s native bumble bees.
FeederWatch is a November to April survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. Participants periodically count the birds they see at their feeders and send their counts to Project FeederWatch.
Watching a bird prepare a nest, lay eggs and raise its young is a fascinating and exhilarating discovery. Be part of it with NestWatch. This nationwide monitoring program is designed to track when birds nest, the number of eggs birds lay, how many eggs hatch and how many hatchlings make it out of the nest.
Budburst brings together researchers and community scientists to track plants and phenology (the study of natural cycles). These observations are used to better understand how plant species and ecosystems respond to changes in climate locally, regionally, and nationally.
The Great Backyard Bird Count
During this popular community science event, people from all over the world head outdoors to count birds. In backyards, local parks or state parks, participants watch and record what birds they see and what the birds are doing. This information, when entered on the website, is used by scientists to track the health of bird populations.
This large community science site has multiple projects aimed at tracking animal migrations, weather patterns and phenology (the study of natural cycles such as when flowers bloom in the spring or when birds migrate north). From butterflies to barn swallows and seasons to sunlight, Journey North has a community science project for everyone.
Knowing that birds are everywhere and so are bird watchers, eBird aims to track bird sightings to create a large database of useable data. The data is used not only by scientists, but also to create bird watching resources such as checklists, personal online lists, and identification tools.
GLOBE Observer is an international community science initiative to understand our global environment. Observations help scientists track changes in clouds to help support climate research. Additionally, scientists use data to verify NASA satellite data.