Students help park employees measure snow depth at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve. Photo by NPS.
Citizen science is an innovative concept that land managers have relied upon for decades. One of the longest-running citizen science programs is the Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count which takes places in neighborhoods and national parks across the country. Each year thousands of volunteers spend an entire day collecting bird observations in different locations, leading to a greater understanding of bird migration patterns, winter habitat, and bird population numbers. These observations have helped park managers to develop habitat management strategies.
Volunteers help the National Park Service in scientific tasks such as observations or measurements, and in education efforts to engage visitors or local communities. Your participation as a citizen scientist helps parks to conduct research and develop management plans on how to adapt to climate change. Inquire at a park near you for opportunities in your area.
In the summer of 2009, the Parks Climate Challenge
brought together high school students from around the country where they spent a month in North Cascades National Park learning about climate science, working with park staff and developing presentations. At the end of their month in the park they returned home and conducted a service project on climate change in their local community. Programs like this one will be essential to the National Park Services success in facing the challenge of climate change.