Citizen Science: Yellowstone Phenology Project

Citizen Science: Yellowstone Phenology Project

Yellowstone Forever and the National Park Service are in need of volunteers to document phenology in the park! What is phenology?

Phenology is the study of nature’s calendar, especially in relation to climate, and the timing of plant and animal life cycles.

The Yellowstone Phenology Project, in collaboration with NEON (National Ecological Observatory Institute) seeks to engage youth and adults from all backgrounds to collect essential data to help park scientists and managers better understand how the Yellowstone ecosystem is responding to changing environmental conditions.

This volunteer opportunity provides hands-on service-learning that collects real data to fill an important knowledge gap about park plants, insects and what they can tell us about changes to the park over time!

How to Get Involved

We are currently recruiting volunteers for help from April to October to serve as:

FIELD TEAM LEADER:
Are you already a Phenology Project volunteer or early career natural resource professional? Please consider becoming a Phenology Project team leader. We are seeking volunteers with current 1st aid & CPR, previous field research experience, and leadership skills. Lead a group of Yellowstone citizen science volunteers using pitfall traps to collect predacious Carabid beetles and record plant phenology observations. Project work includes hiking off trail up to five miles per day, working in teams, collecting insect samples, identifying 15 plant species, making plant observations, and recording data. All field work occurs in the park. All training and equipment provided.

Time commitment: Attend one spring training session and commit to any combination of five weekday or weekend field days from April – October, 2020. Send resume to erik_oberg@nps.gov.

FIELD TEAM MEMBER:
Serve as a team member using pitfall traps to collect predacious Carabid beetles. Project work includes hiking off trail up to five miles per day, working in teams, collecting insect samples, making plant phenology observations, and recording data. All field work occurs in the park. All training and equipment provided.

Time commitment: Attend one spring training session and commit to any combination of five weekday or weekend field days from April – October, 2020. Send resume to erik_oberg@nps.gov.

Housing: For weekend dates, Yellowstone Forever will provide free housing Friday evening-Sunday morning at the Overlook Field Campus in Gardiner MT. 1st-come-1st served to volunteers accepted to the Phenology Project program.

LAB TEAM MEMBER:
Use a microscope and work from home! Project work includes learning order and family level insect taxonomy, sorting insect specimens using stereo microscopes, mounting and labeling specimens to museum standards, and data entry. Lab work can occur in the park or at volunteer’s home. Volunteers must attend a taxonomy workshop and demonstrate insect identification proficiency. Volunteer lab team mentors available in Bozeman and Gardiner, MT. All training and equipment provided.

MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT:
Do you have photo editing or graphic design skills? We need you. Volunteers create insect macro-photographs to document and illustrate the amazing beauty and diversity of Phenology Project specimens. Photography work occurs in Mammoth Hot Springs headquarters. Volunteers with photo editing or graphic design program skills will edit macro insect specimen photographs working remotely. Lab and photography volunteer hours are flexible and negotiable, but no housing is provided.

Project Dates:

April 10, 25, 26
May 8, 23, 24
June 5, 20, 21
July 3, 18, 19, 31
August 15, 16, 28
September 12, 13, 25
October 10, 11, 23

For more information, contact Erik Oberg, National Park Service Biologist, at erik_oberg@nps.gov or 307.344.2156.

Additional Resources

Citizen Science Initiative 2018 Annual Report

Read all about the Yellowstone Citizen Science Initiative’s 2018 pilot season and the program’s priority research projects. Learn what methods volunteer citizen scientists used to collect data in the field, and about plans for continuing the projects in the years ahead.

View Report >>