A citizen science campaign encouraging urban forest professionals to engage the public in the collection of tree phenological data

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Sunday, 17 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
Karl C. Clarke, UCAR, Boulder, CO

There are growing concerns among leading national and local organizations about American scientific literacy, fundamental understanding of science, and the value of scientific research. These organizations, including the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, have been at the forefront in addressing these concerns. In an effort to improve scientific literacy, research conducted by Sam Droege, among others, suggested using citizen science and public participation as instrumental methods to engage the public. Urban Tree Phenology (UTP), a project of Project BudBurst and the USDA Forest Service, is one such citizen science program that sought to engage the public, including the professionals and amateurs among them, in collecting urban tree phenophase data. UTP participants monitored and reported the stages of phenological events, such as First Leaf and Leaf Fall, of 24 native and cultivated urban tree species. Data collected will support the long-term research of plant ecology, climate change, public health, urban heat islands on tree physiology, and urban tree management. UTP, using the architectures of online learning, has developed two instructional tutorials to assist data collection (Phase 1). The instructional tutorials were published online, in print and PowerPoint formats, at www.UrbanTreePhenology.com. By completing these tutorials, participants will gain the skills necessary to provide urban tree phenological data to national research databases via the Internet. Phase 2 will test and review the instructional materials developed, and in Phase 3, the administrators of UTP will distribute promotional materials to national research organizations and to participants of the Project BudBurst national citizen science campaign.