Hi everyone! In our previous podcast we talked a little bit about getting into outreach either as a scientist wanting to share your research or as a non-scientist wanting to learn about research. Recently we heard from one of our lovely viewer who gave us a great list of outreach opportunities that I’m sure anyone can get involved with. I thought I would post them here for you but remember there are so many other ways to get involved within your community.
1. One of the first resources is through Natures Notebook. Through this organization you simply report observations that you see in the world around you. This can range from timing of plant growth to bird behavior. This can help us track changes in the environment.
2. The Great Sunflower Project helps you learn to count and protect pollinators. It’s a citizen science project that has great resources to help you learn to ID bees and other pollinators that may be making a home in your yard. According to the organization, over a third of honeybee colonies collapsed during the winter of 2012-2013. By joining this group, you can help further understand how bees are affected by pesticides. This organization will also help you create a more pollinator friendly landscape if you are looking to maintain a garden that attracts these beneficial insects. From your garden you can also spend time counting bees and other pollinators to help increase what is known about these important creatures.
3. If you like exploring nature and want to learn to identify the different organisms within your environment iNaturalist might be something to think about downloading. It’s an app that allows you to connect with other naturalists so that you can figure out what happening in the world around you. This app also allows you to run a bioblitz which are events that allow people to go out and record as many species as they can in a certain amount of time. I think would be a great way to get the whole family out into the environment looking for different organisms!
4. eBird is a great place to go if you are interested in birding. If you already enjoy nature or you simply like looking out into your backyard for birds you should check out this site. They have a bunch of different apps. I will say that you do have to pay for most of them but there is a free version if you want to try your hand at IDing first. It may be worth it if you don’t want to carry a bird guide around and you never know. Maybe you will become an avid birder and make a life list.
5. The Great Backyard Bird Count is another birding website for all you bird enthusiasts! I’m a little late to the game on this one because the latests bird count just happened in February, but if you want to get involved next year you should! Every February worldwide, people join the great backyard bird count which lasts four days. You create a free online account and make your checklists of the birds you saw in your backyard that day. This gives us a snapshot into what the world population of birds is doing on those days of he year.
6. These next few outreach opportunities may mean a little more digging on your part but it will definitely be worth it. The first I’m going to mention are watersheds. Many watersheds appreciate volunteers coming in and helping them with research. I know that many rely on the public to count and identify stream invertebrates. These invertebrates can help us understand the conditions of the water. Some watersheds will also hire volunteers for a season to collect water samples which can be a great opportunity if you are a high school or college student thinking about a future in science. If you are in northern Michigan you should check out the Tip of the Mitt watershed council! They need volunteers for lake and stream monitoring. It’s a great way to get a little experience or simply get outside and see the beauty of our wetlands and waterways.
7. If you have younger kids, one outlet might be to look at the museums or universities in your area. Talk with the professors on the campus or see if there are any programs currently being run by scientists. Cari and I just volunteered at an event called Kids Tech here at Bowling Green State University. The event runs every weekend for a few weeks in February. It’s a great way to get children out an about when the weather might not be the greatest. We hosted a table where children drew up bug hotels. It was a great time and I think we learned just as much from the kids as they did from us!
8. Finally, if you are a scientist wanting to spread information about your research think about ways that you could get involved with outreach. This semester Cari and I are taking a science communication class where we have to develop a project, figure out our audience, and evaluate the process. We have decided to create a video for our viewers but maybe your goal is to create a table for a local Earth day event or perhaps you want to create a blog. Maybe you are great at drawing and want to make a children’s book or paintings! Get out their and try some outreach! You could find out, like us, that you love it!
Those are all of my tips for now. If I hear of anything else I will be sure to make another post! But we want you guys to get involved too! Do you have some cool way of reaching out to the world about science? What are some of your favorite ways that you have gotten involved! Please let us know in the comments! We would love to hear from you!