Citizen Science

Researchers are constantly collecting and analyzing data all over the world to help us better understand the world we live in, how it works and how things are changing. And you can be a part of that research!

Citizen science is the practice of regular people collaborating in scientific research by volunteering their time to make observations and record what they see in the world around them — it might be checking the weather outside your window, counting butterflies on your backyard flowers or even looking on your computer through a camera halfway around the world and recording how many wildebeest you see around an African watering hole.

Ready to get involved? Check out these active citizen science projects you can participate in:

Crowd Hydrology: This nation-wide project has a strong presence in Duluth, MN. Visit any of 15 sites in the Twin Ports area (or over 100 other sites around the country!) and send a text message the water depth measurement you see. You’ll be helping researchers and land managers respond to changes in weather and climate.

iNaturalist: This site serves multiple purposes: one, you can use it to find out what you’re looking at in nature by asking other naturalists; two, you can help others identify what they’re seeing in nature; and three, you can submit images to a specific project to serve as data for other scientists and researchers.

Monarch Larva Monitoring Project: Participate in several different activities – from measuring rainfall to comparing milkweed plants to counting aphids and monarch butterflies – to help scientists gauge monarch butterfly population health and understand the factors that support or inhibit monarch butterfly survival. Must complete an online volunteer training and receive a certificate of completion to participate.

FrogWatch USA: Learn to identify frogs and toads by their calls, then listen in the evenings between February and August to identify what amphibians are living and mating in your area. Must complete an online volunteer training. As of 5/13/2020, the course is being offered for free instead of its usual $15 fee.

Lost Ladybug Project: This national project hosted by Cornell University asks citizens to take photographs of ladybugs in the wild. Researchers can use those photos to identify ladybugs by species and hopefully assess the population health of rare ladybug species.

Zooniverse: Want to help but can’t get outside to a natural area? Zooniverse is the perfect solution! With hundreds of projects – from identifying African wildlife from trail camera photos to deciphering handwriting in historical scientific journals to comparing telescope images to detect the death of stars – scientists need help interpreting all sorts of images, text and other forms of data.