Colorado mountains
From Long-Term Data to Understanding: Toward a Predictive Ecology
2015 LTER ASM Estes Park, CO - August 30 - September 2, 2015

Broader Impacts: Lessons learned from designing, implementing, and sustaining place-based citizen science projects

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Monica Elser
Marcia Nation
Stevan Earl

The Central Arizona–-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER) program has been involved in several citizen science initiatives over its 17-year history. In this poster, we examine several of these initiatives of varying durations. The Ecology Explorers program (15 years-old) and the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy Partnership (3 years old) involve replicating CAP LTER protocols with non-scientists (k-grey).  Other initiatives, such as the Urban Tree Community Science initiative and the Phoenix Phenology Trail, involve community partners interested in collecting urban ecological data but not linked directly with CAP LTER protocols.

We examine issues of participant recruitment, engagement and retention; technology use in program delivery; and the challenges of channeling resources to citizen science ventures. We reflect on how our ideas about effective strategies for engaging citizen scientists have changed over time, and how we have tried to adapt our programming based on our experiences. Designing, implementing, and sustaining effective place-based citizen science programs requires more than just a good idea; these require dedicated human and fiscal resources, and well-developed implementation plans.