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April 2017: Celebrating Citizen Science

Citizen scientists collecting data in a marine environment

For those of us working at the Museum, there is nothing more satisfying than when we witness someone having an “ah-ha” moment as they learn something new about nature or observe it in action. That sense of discovery and the excitement that comes with a deeper understanding of how the natural world works are the foundational elements of our mission and at the very heart of science itself.

Science is far more than a body of knowledge; it is a dynamic, ongoing process which enables us to piece together many individual observations and tested hypotheses to comprehensively understand our universe – past, present and future. It is a global endeavor that is continually refining and expanding our knowledge of the natural world. Science has no borders; people all over the world participate in science, sometimes even together, adding to our ever-growing understanding.

Citizen scientists collecting data in the hillsFrom April through June, we are celebrating Citizen Science, the growing movement through which scientists and non-scientists alike make observations, collect data and help answer questions about the world around us. Opportunities to participate in citizen science range from citizens independently recording their observations to organized projects led by professional scientists. Projects can involve a single person in a single day to large scale, multi-decade collaborations across the globe. Public participation, particularly projects involving thousands of individuals contributing data, helps answer questions that a single scientist could never tackle alone.

We hope you’ll consider joining us on Earth Day, April 22, and delve first-hand into citizen science with our first BioBlitz along the San Lorenzo River. Together with the Coastal Watershed Council, we are hosting this fun outdoor ecological survey. Participants of all ages will have the opportunity, alongside experts, to identify, observe and document plants and animals living on the water’s edge. Together, we will provide a natural “snapshot” of the biodiversity along a segment of our river. What better way to celebrate Earth Day and science itself than to join us in a community project exploring and documenting the biodiversity of the San Lorenzo.

In addition to our upcoming BioBlitz, our monthly Naturalist Night on April 20 will also focus on Citizen Science. Come meet Alison Young, Citizen Science Engagement Coordinator at the California Academy of the Sciences, as she discusses her organization’s efforts to encourage citizen science up and down the coast. I hope to see you at this inspiring program as we learn more about some of the wonderful project opportunities available in our region.

Thank you,

Heather

Dani Lucido: Volunteer

Dani Lucido, volunteer docent

Joining the Museum’s volunteer ranks in February 2015, Dani Lucido is a docent for our Ohlone Program, which educates thousands of local elementary school students each year.

She graduated in 2014 from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in anthropology and started as a volunteer for Museum events. By Fall of 2015, she was a part-time intern with our Education team, later increasing to full-time to help revamp the Ohlone Program.

Dani will work at the Museum through the end of June, after which she will begin pursuing a degree in Native American law.

“Being at the Museum definitely opened me up to natural history in a way that I was not exposed to as an anthropology major who was just focused on culture,” Dani said. “This has broadened my education as far as science is concerned and I’ve learned to work with children.”

If you are interested in volunteering with the Museum, contact volunteer@santacruzmuseum.org.