Wildlife Conservation Awareness Through Citizen Science: Twitter Chat On November 5

Guest Post by Katie Taylor (@YoPros4Wildlife)

Critical applications of citizen science include raising awareness of wildlife conservation issues and furthering research efforts. Conservation-themed citizen science projects can not only lead to greater scientific insights into conservation, but can also further engage people in conservation.

Citizen Science Coordinator and volunteers spot a frog in the pond. Photo Credit: NPS Photo by Ivie Metzen/Flickr.

Increasing Awareness and Learning

Utilizing citizen science projects to further wildlife conservation not only provides a greater scientific understanding of conservation issues, but also fosters awareness and learning of both the scientific process and conservation.

Citizen science conservation projects can create more positive attitudes and behaviors toward science and conservation (Toomey & Domroese 2013). Anne Toomey and Margret Domroese (2013) developed the citizen science-conservation behavior feedback model, which invokes an iterative process where participants have positive feelings about the work they’ve done, thus leading to more positive attitudes and conservation-focused behaviors, which in turn motivates them to participate in additional conservation-focused projects.[1] For volunteers to understand what their efforts will mean for the future of conservation, researchers need to engage with their participants and explain the goals of the project.

Citizen Science & Youth

To advance conservation goals, it is critical to engage youth in citizen science projects. Including youth in citizen science projects allows them to feel empowered in their ability to contribute to science. Through citizen science experiences, youth have the potential to learn how to rigorously collect data, connect to the land, and recognize the roles they play in shaping the ecosystem. Beyond this, youth involvement in science learning can build confidence in their scientific, writing, and speaking abilities, and can foster interest in scientific studies.

“Recording Mountain Goat Surveys, Siyeh Pass (Citizen Science)” by GlacierNPS is marked under CC PDM 1.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/

Technological advancements have made it easier for people to get involved in citizen science projects. Wildlife camera trap images allow for youth and adults alike to traverse the Serengeti and identify images with wildebeest or help Panthera to identify big cats caught on camera all around the world just by logging on to the Internet.

Internet-based citizen science projects foster curiosity and present a simple, free and exciting way to engage people in wildlife conservation efforts. Within Internet-based projects like Snapshot Serengeti or CATalogue, users can view camera trap images uploaded to the database and identify whether or not a certain animal is in that image. These identified images help researchers track a variety of species’ movements. As we continue on into the future and as technological advancements improve, it will be amazing to see ways citizen science projects expand to include even more ways for volunteers to participate even from their own homes!


Screenshot of the Snapshot Serengeti. Citizen scientists view camera trap photos and identify any wildlife species observed. Image Credit: http://www.sci-news.com/biology/science-snapshot-serengeti-02891.html

On November 5th at 4 pm EST, I (@YoPros4Wildlife) hosted a #CitSciChat panel of key experts who will discuss their journeys in citizen science, pros and cons of different projects, as well as how to increase racial and gender diversity among participants.

The panelists included: Michelle Toshack of Adventure Scientists, Sean O’Connor of BSCS Science Learning, and Anne Haywood of Mountain to Sea Education.

Michelle Toshack is a Senior Manager of Volunteer Experience at Adventure Scientists, located in Montana. She trains and manages volunteers while also overseeing their data collection on projects. She began her journey in citizen science in 2008 when her butterfly conservation study evolved into the Cascades Butterfly Project where volunteers helped to inventory butterfly species.

Sean O’Connor is a program manager for citizen science at BSCS Science Learning in Colorado. Before joining the BSCS Science Learning team, he was a citizen science program manager at the National Geographic Society. Sean also is the product manager of a citizen science technology called FieldScope that is used by a number of wildlife conservation organizations. FieldScope is an interactive online platform that allows project managers to consolidate citizen scientists’ data collection, resources, and access visualization and mapping tools for participant and researcher use. Participants of these projects are able to easily and conveniently upload their data and observations to a shared project database.

Anne Haywood is the Director of Mountain to Sea Education in Florida and a former National Geographic Fellow who is dedicated to connecting youth education to the natural world through interdisciplinary programs, exploration, and citizen science.

These panelists have diverse experiences in the citizen science realm, which provided a fascinating question and answer session about how this field of science interacts with and contributes to wildlife conservation.

Selected Posts from #CitSciChat



[1] Toomey, A., & Domroese, M. (2013). Can citizen science lead to positive conservation attitudes and behaviors? Human Ecology Review, 20(1), 50-62. Retrieved October 30, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/24707571



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SciStarter Team

SciStarter connects you to thousands of searchable citizen science projects in need of your help. Use the Project Finder (SciStarter.org/Finder) to find a project to match your location, interests, and age level. Your free SciStarter account will help you earn credit for participating in projects across apps and websites (use the advanced search option at SciStarter.org/Finder to find Affiliate projects eligible for credit in your dashboard). Together, we can move the world forward!