Over the past two years, our lab has been expanding our use of citizen science in many of our research and outreach activities. In some cases, we are conducting participatory research because it is the best method available for efficiently and creatively collecting the data that we need to answer a particular research question (e.g., Where do aquatic recreationists go in lake and river systems?). In other cases, the primary goal of inviting citizens to participate as volunteers in our research projects is to actively engage them in a community resource management process and inspire conservation actions.
Nature in the City Biodiversity Project
The City of Fort Collins, Colorado, launched the Nature in the City initiative to develop a 100-year vision for a connected and accessible open space network that provides a variety of experiences for people and functional habitat for plants and wildlife. To support this vision, we collaborated to conduct the first citywide assessment of biodiversity in 2014. In 2015, we founded the Biodiversity Project, a volunteer citizen-science program that will continue bird and butterfly monitoring on public and private open space throughout the City into the future. Our goals are to increase citizen engagement in the Nature in the City initiative and to inspire collaborative stewardship to preserve and enhance local open space.