Become a Citizen Scientist

magnifying glass looking at flowers and bugs

Become a Citizen Scientist

While you’re practicing social distancing, get outside and put your curiosity into action as a citizen scientist.  Take this opportunity in distancing yourself from people to immerse yourself in your natural surroundings.  Getting involved in a citizen science project is a great way to learn more about and explore nature.  April is Citizen Science Month, and with Spring right around the corner, meaning warmer weather, wildflowers and increased animal activity, now is the perfect time to join a citizen science project that interests you.

To become a citizen scientist, you don’t need a scientific degree; all that is required is to observe your surroundings and record and share your observations. Most projects allow you to record what you find right on your smart phone.  You’ll be helping to advance scientific discovery while you’re exploring your backyard, neighborhood, or local parks.  There’s many topics and projects to choose from, such as birds, plants, and even weather.  Below is a list of 8 worthwhile citizen science projects for you to choose from, with links to learn how you can get started.

You may discover something brand new, to you or to scientists!


Join a national network of citizen scientists monitoring plants as the seasons change through Budburst.

Nature’s Notebook
Observe Plants and Animals: help scientists looks for changes in the timing and patterns of the seasons by documenting observations of plants and animals in your area at https://www.usanpn.org/nn/become-observer.


Join ebird and create a checklist of birds that you see in order to contribute to the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science project.

Monitor Bird Nests

Join NestWatch, a continent-wide project to monitor bird nests.

Survey Monarch Populations

Help the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project collect long-term data on larval monarch populations and milkweed. Volunteer to conduct surveys in your local area.

iNaturalist Salamander Project

Help biologists, herpetologists, etc. to see what species of salamander are still common by recording your observations of this hard to find amphibian: http://ow.ly/i8um30or6x6

Measure Night-Sky Brightness

Join the Globe at Night program in documenting light pollution by submitting data based on the visibility of constellations.

Collect Weather Data

Join the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network.  Volunteers learn how to measure precipitation using a rain gauge and hail pad, record their data and report their measurements online.  The data you help collect will be used for weather forecasting and monitoring, severe weather alerts, and climate studies.

graphic of citizen science