Contact(s): Eva Lewandowski, Citizen-based Monitoring Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, 608-264-6057
April 2, 2019
MADISON - Join Wisconsin's long tradition of volunteers partnering with professional scientists to help monitor natural resources by taking a pledge this month and participating in one of dozens of projects to collect information on Wisconsin's wildlife, lakes and rivers and other natural resources.
"April 13 is national Citizen Science Day, and it's a great time to volunteer to help monitor the natural resources you love," says Eva Lewandowski, a conservation biologist with DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program. "Find a project that interests you and dive in! It's a fun way to experience nature, to learn and to make a difference."
Already, people have pledged 2,420 hours to volunteer in 2019 as part of a pledge drive celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring (WCBM) Network. The network is a collaboration of over 190 projects and groups working to improve the effectiveness of volunteer monitoring efforts.
"We're incredibly excited to be celebrating 15 years of partnership in support of citizen-based monitoring efforts," says Lewandowski, who coordinates the WCBM Network for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
DNR and other organizations throughout the state partner with volunteers to monitor plants, animals, and water. Citizen-based monitoring results are used to understand, manage, and protect natural resources. Volunteer contributions have led to new county records for rare bumble bees and frogs, documented population declines in bats, and been used to determine the impairment status of lakes and rivers.
"Without citizen-based monitoring volunteers, we would have significantly less information about the species and habitats we manage and protect," says Lewandowski. "They expand the scope and capacity of our work dramatically."
From the humble beginnings of a single Christmas Bird Count participant in 1900, Wisconsin citizen-based monitoring has expanded beyond what anyone could have imagined back then, she says; an online timeline captures many of the milestones.
Over a century of dedication from volunteers, professional scientists, agency staff and others eventually led to the 2004 creation of the Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Network to support such efforts. The WCBM Network makes Wisconsin relatively unique in offering such a widespread, solid infrastructure to support volunteer monitoring of natural resources, Lewandowski says.
By 2019, the WCBM Network has grown to more than 190 monitoring projects and groups, more than 12,000 volunteers and more than $1.2 million in support of citizen-based monitoring, she says.
People who want to get involved can visit the WCBM Network website, found at wiatri.net/cbm/ where they can learn about the long history of citizen-based monitoring in the state, find a project in need of help, and take the volunteer pledge.
Springtime projects suitable for Citizen Science Day on April 13 include: