WHAT WAS YOUR favorite subject in school? For many, it was science. For many adults, it’s now science and nature. From Earth Science to Biology to Chemistry, in the hands of the right teacher, science can be a fun class that teaches about the world around us. Many still harbor a love of science, even if they go to an office everyday rather than a lab or in the field. If your love of science extends to nature, then the USA-National Phenology Network might just have the gig for you as a citizen scientist. It’s volunteer work, but it pays big dividends in helping the environment.
Phenology is the study of cyclic and seasonal natural occurrences, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life. The USA-NPN utilizes citizen scientists in the Nature’s Notebook program. In this program, amateur and professional naturalists record regular observations of flora and fauna to generate long-term data sets that will be used for scientific discovery and decision-making. Many studies focus on how finding out how climate change is affecting the plants and animals of our planet, and recording changes over time and distance is a necessary part of understanding how climate change affects the environment.
Groups and individuals can sign up; it’s a simple process that you can start by visiting www.usanpn.org/natures_notebook. It’s also a great way for the family to get outdoors and learn more about our natural surroundings. Your data will be useful to scientists and researchers the world over, and the plants and animals that inhabit your favorite natural spaces will benefit as well.
column by Michael Martin
BIO: Michael Martin of Martin Law Office in Lakeland specializes in agriculture and environmental legal representation. A native of Polk County, Mike attended college at Sewanee in Tennessee, before obtaining a doctorate in law from the University of Florida and has tried numerous cases nationwide since that time. Mike also serves as the director of the FFA Foundation and is the author of the novel, The Crestfallen Rose.