Charlotte Observer: “Citizen Science is in full flight.”

This week, an article in the Charlotte Observer newspaper featured citizen scientist Benton Bragg and his family. The Braggs installed a video camera in an owl box to track the habits of the owl and her babies.

“We never know what we’re going to see,” Bragg said. “One night she brought in seven snakes. Another night it was salamander night. Once, she brought in what I think was one of my brother’s chickens.”

If you fancy owls, you’re in luck! Currently, there are two “Owl” citizen science projects in the Science For Citizens project finder: The Maine Owl Monitoring Program and Who’s Whooing? Studying Suburban Owls.
The article goes on to demonstrate the growing interest in all-things-citizen science, including an effort to form a professional society for practitioners (note the shameless plug):

Some developers of citizen science projects, like [Rick] Bonney of the Cornell Lab, are pushing to create a professional society for citizen science developers centered on creating best practices and guidelines.

Darlene Cavalier, co-founder of, an online clearinghouse for more than 125 citizen science projects, said creating a professional society is a good idea so long as it includes smaller grassroots projects unaffiliated with a university or research institution.

Cavalier said she’s been “preaching the gospel” of citizen science for the past five years. She thinks the prejudice against citizen scientists producing faulty data is crumbling.

“There are so many credible institutions involved in citizen science now,” Cavalier said. “When you see Yale, Cornell and NASA doing it, I think that most scientists now see it is legitimate.”

Scientists and allied professionals may need some time to sort out the parameters of the burgeoning field, but anyone interested in getting involved should find many local opportunities once they start looking.

Categories: Animals, Birds, Citizen Science, In the News, Nature & Outdoors

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About the Author

Darlene Cavalier

Darlene Cavalier

Darlene Cavalier is a Professor at Arizona State University's Center for Engagement and Training, part of the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. Cavalier is the founder of SciStarter. She is also the founder of Science Cheerleader, an organization of more than 300 current and former professional cheerleaders pursuing STEM careers, and a cofounder of ECAST: Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology, a network of universities, science centers, and think tanks that produces public deliberations to enhance science policymaking. She is a founding board member of the Citizen Science Association, a senior advisor at Discover Magazine, a member of the EPA's National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology, and was appointed to the National Academy of Sciences "Designing Citizen Science to Support Science Learning" committee. She is the author of The Science of Cheerleading and co-editor of The Rightful Place of Science: Citizen Science, published by Arizona State University. Darlene holds degrees from Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania and was a high school, college and NBA cheerleader. Darlene lives in Philadelphia with her husband and four children.