JDCF program highlights citizen scientists

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HANOVER–On Tuesday, Nov. 13, 7 p.m., the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation (JDCF) is hosting a public program, Citizen Science, Modern Technology, and the Conservation of Nature, at River Ridge.

The speaker is Charlie Blake who leads the citizen science program, RiverWatch.

Blake will be giving an overview of popular new phone apps and web sites–eBird, iNaturalist, Zooniverse, Merlin and FieldScope–which are linking citizen scientists to researchers and conservationists while at the same time creating opportunities for magical outings outdoors.

As one example, eBird allows birders to contribute to a global database about migration patterns all over the world.

“This is citizen science at its best,” said JDCF volunteer Bobbi Asher, who has traveled the world on birding expeditions. “And you get a place to record all your own sightings by location and date for free!”

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Asher introduced eBird to other birders who are keeping a record of species sited at JDCF’s new bird sanctuary, Valley of Eden. More than 100 species have been reported.

The phone apps, most of which are available for iPhone and Android, can also inspire you and your entire family to explore the real world around you. The Driftless Region is full of natural wonders, and kids and adults can use their devices together to explore nature and have fun doing it. Because these apps are allowing you to share what you are seeing, you become part of the citizen science community.

You can even start with your own backyard. Identify and find out more about what’s living around you every day–birds, butterflies, wildlife, plants, and trees. Or explore one of the JDCF properties open to the public with trails for wildlife viewing. A list of these is at jdcf.org.

Blake will also demonstrate how teachers can use these apps and websites as powerful and engaging tools in the classroom and in the field. Students become citizen scientists and contribute to real research and conservation work as they learn and have fun in nature.

The event begins with an optional potluck at 5:30 pm. If attending the potluck, bring a dish to pass and your own table service. All beverages must be non-alcoholic. An entrée will be provided.

Apple River State Bank/First Community Bank of Galena is the sponsor for the 2018 speaker series.

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