Citizen science is the process of utilizing public participation to help inform large data sets. This can be accomplished through crowdsourcing or community based projects. There are great examples of citizen science happening everywhere. Examples include Christmas Bird Counts, Ebird, plant phenology recordings, and websites like Inaturalist. Anyone can be a citizen scientist.
Inaturalist is a wonderful platform and highly accessible to the public. It is being used to inform watershed based projects worldwide. It can even help with identification of plants, fungi, animals, or insects. All you have to do is take a picture and upload. Crowdsourcing at its finest.
RECORD - SHARE - DISCUSS
Here is a Walkthrough for using Inaturalist
STEP 1: Download The INATURALIST APP
Alternatively you can log in to the Inaturalist website on a desktop computer.
You will need to create an account - You also have the option to log in using Facebook from the registration page on Inaturalist.
STEP 2: Go for a walk
You can scale this step to whatever adventure you are interested in. It can be your backyard, a park, the weeds on the street, or that three week backpacking trip you did last month. The important part is going outside.
STEP 3: Take a picture
Try to get the item of interest in focus and represented clearly. If it is a plant, there are certain characteristics that make identification easier. Always focus on a flower, if it is a tree - the bark and leaf shape help. Multiple photos of one specimen also help.
Take photos of peoples faces.
Take photos of pets or house plants.
Take photos of hands .
Mark captive or cultivated specimens.
STEP 4: Upload
Now you can upload your observation.
Click OBSERVE (camera icon).
Add your PHOTO from your library.
Enter WHAT you observed. You can look through recommendations or leave it blank and let the community help.
Enter WHEN you saw it - this should be automatic
Enter WHERE you saw it - this should be automatic
SAVE your observation
UPLOAD your observation (The cloud icon) or SYNC if you are using an Android phone.
CHECK BACK for activity and help with identification
DISCUSS your observations with friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, community members, and anyone else!
You can start your own project in Inaturalist and friends can join in and add observations to your project.
Organizations often hold events called "BIOBLITZ" where you can go out with your community and make observations under one project and help contribute to data sets. This is a great way to get outside with friends and family.
Researchers and scientists also have options to download datasets with an export tool on the website.
Other websites that are related to Citizen Science:
Make sure to take a clear photo, and several if necessary.
Enter what, when, and where you saw the observation.
Some of these features will be automatic.
If you are unsure what the observation is, you can look through the recommendations, or leave it blank and let other Naturalists provide identification. Make sure to check back later.
You can create projects or participate in community events such as a bioblitz and add observations to a larger effort.
See the activity around, what people are observing, and find new spots to explore.