The summer has flown by and I can’t believe I am already at the halfway point! It has been both a very fun experience and an awesome learning experience for me this summer. Day to day I do a variety of things. On some Thursdays and every Saturday, I help manage stewardship volunteers on projects that involve removing invasive species. We often go after Multiflora rose, Oriental Bittersweet, Glossy and common Buckthorn, and phragmites. On Saturdays, we are also joined by live blue ambassadors which are a youth group from the aquarium who help us in our efforts.
Recently, we started to do vegetation monitoring. We first lay out 10-meter long transect in a straight line with a tape measure. Then, and using a small square we identify all the species that are in the square. I really enjoy vegetation monitoring because I am able to identify a new plant every time we are out there! When I am not doing vegetation monitoring, I often work on removing invasive species to restore an area to a native species habitat.
Throughout the summer I have been using an awesome app called iNaturalist! iNaturalist is a free app that allows people to go out and explore biodiversity in an area. The way it works is that people can take a picture of a plant, animal, or insect and try to identify it if they can. Then by crowdsourcing, the species will either get verified by other people or a new suggestion will be added. After 2 people agree on a species, then it will become research grade and will go into a database that as a park can use to see what species are being found in the park.
Other days I am in the office working with the STEAM team to assess meaningful citizen science programs currently going on today. These efforts will help the team build a robust citizen science program that is engaging, educational, and relevant to the management of the park. With the STEAM team, I am working to conduct interviews with people who are involved in citizen science programs, as well as assessing the National Phenology Network’s citizen science program, Nature’s Notebook.