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UW’s Biodiversity Institute to Host Virtual Rocky Mountain Community Science Conference Dec. 1-2

September 29, 2022
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The University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute, in partnership with Audubon Rockies, will host the 2022 Rocky Mountain Community Science Conference in a virtual format Thursday and Friday, Dec. 1-2.

Registration for the conference opens Monday, Oct. 3. To register, go here. The cost is $15.

“Last time, the conference focused on the challenges of community science and how we, as community science practitioners, could improve our programs,” says Mason Lee, senior project coordinator of the Biodiversity Institute. “This year, we really want the conference to celebrate the successes of projects in the Rocky Mountain region and the incredible benefits of community science. This includes, but is not limited to, successes in getting the public engaged in science; successes in collecting data that leads to greater understanding and conservation or management changes; and successes in setting up the project using the best tools.”

Community science is a collaborative research effort that connects scientists and science enthusiasts in the broader community. The conference seeks abstract submissions for regular-length talks that focus on community science from a participant perspective; learning from a project’s successes or failures; designing a program for success; and community science role models.

“We also want to highlight ongoing projects so that attendees who might be looking for a project to participate in can find an opportunity,” Lee says. “We’re seeking participants of community science projects to share about their experiences as a participant on a community science project.”

The conference also is looking for speakers who want to share projects that they are excited about but need help implementing. This type of “rant,” or short talk, at the 2020 conference led to the development of the Mullen Wildfire Community Science Initiative, Lee says. 

Workshops to help community science practitioners set their projects up for success also are part of the conference. One such workshop will cover a few of the various data platforms that are available for community science projects.

“We’ll have representatives from iNaturalist, Anecdata, FieldScope, ArcGIS Survey123 and CitiSci.org talk about the pros and cons of their platforms to help project managers make informed decisions,” Lee says. “There are a lot of options, and finding the right one for the kind of data you collect can be a little overwhelming.”

Karen Oberhauser, director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, is the keynote speaker and will present “Monitoring Monarchs: A Success for People, Habitat and Butterflies.” She is a co-founder of the Monarch Joint Venture and a founding officer of the Monarch Butterfly Fund. In 1996, she started a nationwide citizen science project called the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP), which continues to engage hundreds of volunteers throughout North America. The MLMP and Journey North, another flagship citizen science program with a strong monarch focus, are key features of the growing citizen science programming at the UW-Madison Arboretum. Oberhauser has written over 100 papers on her research on monarchs, insect conservation and citizen science.

Because of the conference’s virtual format, there is no limit to how many people can attend.

“We hope folks from all over the Rocky Mountain region will join and share about their community science experiences so that we can all learn from and support each other on our successes,” Lee says.

For more information about the conference, go here or email Lee at mlee37@uwyo.edu.

The UW Biodiversity Institute fosters conservation of biodiversity through scientific discovery, creative dissemination, education and public engagement. In this setting, scientists, citizens, students and educators come together to share a wealth of perspectives on the study and appreciation of biodiversity -- from microbes to poetry and ecosystems to economics. Learn more at www.wyomingbiodiversity.org.

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