In today’s world, citizens are faced more and more with challenging conservation issues both locally and globally. Solutions that encourage the public to understand these issues, lend their knowledge and experience, and implement strategies are key in overcoming conservation challenges. One way to engage the public to take responsibility for their environment is through the use of citizen science projects. Citizen Science as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary is the, “scientific work undertaken by members of the general public, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions.”
The Miistakis Institute is a research facility based out of Mount Royal in Calgary, AB that specializes in the evaluation and resolution of complex environmental problems. One of their six main research areas is citizen science for conservation. Miistakis uses a citizen science approach to help inform conservation challenges, from informing biodiversity monitoring and management in an urban environment to improving human and wildlife safety along highways in western Canada. Citizen Science has helped the Miistakis Institute generate valuable datasets while also engaging the public to understand and address local conservation challenges.
This past May 17-20, Miistakis staff had the opportunity to attend and present at the 2nd biannual Citizen Science Association (CSA) conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. This diverse conference brought together researchers, practitioners, community groups, and individuals to experience over 400 presentations from a wide variety of disciplines and collaborations.
Miistakis Executive Director Danah Duke and Krista Tremblett from Alberta Environment and Parks presented on the value and common obstacles faced by government agencies. Danah and Krista gave mention to GrizzTracker as an example of a collaborative partnership between government and partners that is exploring the value of a citizen science approach to inform grizzly bear management. In addition, Senior Project Manager Tracy Lee presented on Advancing Citizen Science and the role of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), and Research Assistant Holly Kinas gave a poster presentation on the Quality Control Considerations for Public Engagement in Urban Biodiversity Monitoring.
A few other standout moments the Miistakis staff enjoyed from the conference included:
- A presentation from Virginia Tech’s Dr. Marc Edwards and Flint, Michigan citizen Lee Anne Walters on how combining science and citizen engagement helped overcome an environmental disaster.
- Applicable lessons on integrating citizen science into a federal government agency were shared in a panel presentation by a number of United States government agencies.
- A current societal trend is a focus on smart cities, urban ecology, and citizen science leading to increased public involvement in conservation challenges in urban centers.
- Speaking with Zooniverse staff and understanding the power of crowd-sourcing image, video and sound processing. Check out snap shot Serengeti where the public classify over 10,000 images a day! https://www.snapshotserengeti.org/