Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Citizens Science a Sucess

As the season slows down and projects begin to end, pictures and reports start to trickle into the office, reminding us just how many volunteers there are in the park and how varied their work is.

Kevin and I recently received a year’s end report on the Citizen Science program, along with a bevy of pictures documenting the work over the past three months of Caitlin Kenny and fourteen volunteers in the program.

The Citizen Science program at Mount Rainier was a resounding success over the past three months. The Citizen Science program recruits and trains volunteers to help conduct scientific experiments and projects throughout the park. Led by Caitlin Kenny, a fellow intern through the Student Conservation Association, more than a dozen volunteers collected data on amphibian populations throughout the park. Working this summer and fall, from July into September, volunteers spent varying amount of time with the program, some working 8 hours, others more than 50 hours! With their help, Caitlin surveyed fifty sites at all corners of the park.

It’s good to hear about the success of the program, Citizen Science is one of my favorite volunteer opportunities here at the park. Where else can a grown adult go hunting around in lakes for frogs and salamanders like a little kid. But it’s not all fun and games. The work our Citizen Science volunteers do is extremely important and useful. They gather data from sites that the park doesn’t have the resources or people to survey, and all of this data helps us to understand the impact humans are having on the habitat of these animals. Using this data, we will make better, more informed decisions in the future.

Caitlin just finished up her internship and now she is off to bigger and better (hard to get better than Mt. Rainier) things. I want to recognize Caitlin Kenny for all the hard work she put into the program, and the incredible job she did coordinating volunteers. Not an easy task when you attention is also focused on collecting data and writing reports for our Natural Resource division. Caitlin rightly made volunteers her top priority in the program, but not just the regulars. She was always ready to work with the sudden school group, no matter how large or how unexpected. Her work with younger groups such as the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium was particularly appreciated.

And finally, I want to recognize and thank all the volunteers who participated in the Citizen Science program. Dave Purdon, Carol and Jim Miltimore (who are involved in everything park-volunteer related), Melanie Wisdom and everyone was a huge help. It’s because of you that programs like this are so successful. Pat yourself on the back, you deserve it.

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