Citizen Science

Yellowstone Citizen Science Initiative

Photo: Lu Oburn

The Yellowstone Citizen Science Initiative (YCSI) is a collaboration between Yellowstone Forever, Yellowstone National Park, and surrounding communities. This program provides unique opportunities for park stewards of all backgrounds to directly engage with scientific research taking place in Yellowstone National Park.

Participants collect essential data that draws crucial connections between changes to Yellowstone’s environment and the species it supports, ultimately helping to inform science-driven management decisions.

2019 Projects

Photo: NPS/Erik Oberg

Yellowstone Phenology Project

The Yellowstone Phenology Project is a citizen science project designed to monitor environmental change over time across an elevation gradient in Yellowstone National Park.

Get Involved:

We are currently recruiting volunteers for a minimum of five weekdays or one weekend a month, April to September.

For those committing to one weekend per month, Yellowstone Forever will provide free housing at the Overlook Field Campus in Gardiner, MT. No experience is necessary! All training and materials will be provided.

Duties include:

  • Pitfall trap sample collection
  • Plant identification
  • Sorting and mounting of insects


  • Ability to hike up to five miles off-trail over rough terrain
  • Interest in entomology and/or botany, and willingness to learn in a classroom, field, and lab setting
  • Possess attention to detail and fine motor skills
  • Ability to work effectively as part of a team

For more information, contact Erik Oberg, Yellowstone Biologist, 307. 344.2156 or click here.

Red-tailed Hawk Nest Monitoring

The Red-tailed Hawk Nest Monitoring Project is a program that utilizes citizen scientists to monitor the nesting success of Red-tailed Hawks, Buteo jamaicensis, across Yellowstone’s Northern Range.

Get Involved:

We are currently recruiting volunteers to assist with road-side nest searching across Yellowstone’s Northern Range.

Duties include:

  • Observing raptors through optics
  • Identifying raptor species
  • Exposure to elements in a variety of conditions
  • Documenting nest locations

For more information, click here.

Yellowstone Pika Project

The Yellowstone Pika Project is a citizen science effort that aims at monitoring habitat occupation of American Pika, Ochotona princeps, throughout Yellowstone National Park.

Get Involved:

While on a Yellowstone Forever program, ask your instructor to complete a 20-minute survey for pika at one of the previously identified historic sites. Many sites are located a short distance from roads, while others are further afield.

Home on the Range

Home on the Range is a citizen science project that collaborates closely with the Yellowstone Bison Management Team to document ungulate herd demographics and collect scat samples.

Get Involved:

While on a Yellowstone Forever program, ask your instructor to collect demographics on a herd of animals. If time allows, and conditions are safe, locate a collared female and collect a scat sample for diet analysis!

Invasive Weeds Mapping

Invasive weeds have and continue to spread widely across the globe. These non-native plants have the potential to negatively impact the plant community.

Get Involved:

While on a Yellowstone Forever program, ask your instructor to survey for the focal weed species by documenting weeds with geotagged photos.


Inquire about a service learning project, in which participants would work to manually remove weeds from an area and collect native seeds (during certain times of year).

Housing Information

Housing is available for Citizen Science volunteers at the Yellowstone Overlook Kendeda Field Campus. The Overlook features comfortable cabins on 80 acres, awe-inspiring views, and easy access to the northern section of the park. Cabins have self-serve kitchens for preparing meals and open floor plans perfect for group dining and evening activities.

For additional information, including directions and what to bring, please click here.

Photo by Patrick Flynn (2)
By Nick Derene _MG_2594

Citizen Science Field Seminars

In addition to the above volunteer opportunities, the Yellowstone Forever Institute has added four new citizen science Field Seminars to its summer 2019 program lineup. Participants will contribute to a citizen science project while learning new skills, engaging with Yellowstone on a deeper level, and enjoying spending time in the park. Learn more

Contact Information

Joshua Theurer, Citizen Science Program Manager, Yellowstone Forever Institute, at

Erik Oberg, National Park Service Biologist, at or 307.344.2156.

The Yellowstone Citizen Science Initiative is a collaborative effort between Yellowstone Forever and Yellowstone National Park.