Thursday, March 31, 2011

Volunteer Program Highlight: Citizen Science

I've been responding to volunteer inquiries this week, including several questions about our Citizen Science program. This is a program we're very proud of, because it provides opportunities for anyone to participate in a direct and meaningful way in the understanding and protection of the natural resources of Mount Rainier. Here's the draft letter I put together to send out to those who are interested. If this sounds interesting to you, then submit an application and join our team -- we'd love to work with you this summer!

Thank you for your interest in the Citizen Science program at Mount Rainier National Park! Every year, teams of volunteers help us survey amphibian species, locate vernal pools, monitor wilderness soundscapes, and assist with other science projects throughout the park. These efforts greatly enhance our understanding of Mount Rainier’s natural ecosystems and allow us to track changes over time. We are better able to protect the park’s resources with these data, but we would not have the staff to compile it without the help of volunteers.

Every summer, we hire an intern, usually through the Student Conservation Association, to coordinate the Citizen Science program. Because most of the locations we survey are at high elevations, and usually buried by deep snow until July, our intern usually comes on duty at the beginning of that month. One of their first tasks is to organize training for the summer’s volunteers and to schedule research outings for the months of July, August, September, and early October. Some are day-long trips in easily accessible areas of the park, while others may be multiple-day ventures into remote settings.

If you’re interested in participating in the Citizen Science program, you may fill out an application online at It may seem like a long wait from that time until you hear back from anyone, but please be patient; you can expect to hear from us by mid July with word on whether you’ve been accepted as a member of our team, along with a schedule of training and potential outings for the summer. In the meantime, feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or to confirm the status of your application.

Note that no previous scientific experience is required to volunteer as a Citizen Scientist, as training will be provided. However, the work is physically strenuous, and often involves crosscountry travel and/or overnight stays in remote parts of Mount Rainier National Park. Survey equipment will be provided, but you’ll need to provide your own camping equipment for the overnight trips. Previous backpacking experience is strongly recommended.

Thanks again for your interest in being a Citizen Scientist at Mount Rainier! We look forward to working with you this summer.

Kevin Bacher
Volunteer and Outreach Program Manager
360-569-2211 ext. 3385

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