Thursday, April 19, 2012

Technology-Based Citizen Science and Outreach in Vermont and Atlanta

There have been a lot of fun developments in the world of technology-based citizen science over the past few weeks.

In Vermont, the Fairbanks Museum of Saint Johnsbury has unveiled its Community of Observers citizen science program.  This citizen science project encourages citizens of Vermont and nearby areas to enroll and report sightings of any of a list of plant and bird species and weather phenomena.  You can create an account and submit reports, and there may soon be an iNaturalist project as well.  A photo from my sighting of wake-robin (Trillium erectum) was featured in their most recent blog entry:


I'm also hoping to send in some weather observations.  Speaking of weather, I saw these neat wave clouds near Burlington on Wednesday morning:


My good friend Eli, who lives in Atlanta and loves huge trees, has been working on this Google map of the champion trees of the city:

View Champion Trees in ATL in a larger map

It may seem surprising at first, but many of our largest trees occur in big cities like Atlanta.  If you think about it, though, it makes sense.  People don't usually go into cities to look for timber.  Old cities like Atlanta don't always have to worry about losing their big trees to development, because they are already developed and have been for hundreds of years.  Trees also benefit from care and fertililzer in cities (though some trees, such as California's live oaks, do not thrive with extra water and fertilizer - it depends on the species).  Also, cities have less trees than forests which means the trees that do grow there have a bit more space to get truly huge.

In honor of Arbor Day Weekend, Atlanta Green Spaces is hosting a fun 'art scavenger hunt'.  Participants will use the Google Map (and perhaps their smartphones) to visit champion trees in publicly accessible areas, and near some of these trees they will find (and maybe get to take home) locally created art!  This even seems like a whole lot of fun and combines some of my favorite things - neat uses of technology, citizen science, huge trees, and art!  Unfortunately, I'm much too far away from Atlanta to participate, but if I were I'd definitely be involved with this event.

1 comment:

  1. This is certainly interesting. A number of science-based inventions for agriculture have actually been improved upon by the farmers themselves, not the folks with a load of initials proudly being display behind their names. Go to any Ag equipment Bone Yard and inspect the old rusting machines and the McGiver-like add-ons the Farmer himself put on the devicw. Much research and invention has come from citizen science folks who have a passionate love for nature that motivates them as opposed to the forced demands of big corporations and investors who demand results YESTERDAY or the obsessive pursuit of making a finding so as to get one's name up in lights.

    I'm also fascinated with cloud formations, weather and the patterns for which I have often found not to be so random, but rather mechanized and influeced by processes on the ground. Hope to release some things about this soon. Most of the drafts are completed, but just some refinement.

    Thanks for your article, Kevin