The growing field of community science, including volunteer monitoring, and other forms of organized research, engages members of the public in the process of scientific Investigations: asking questions, collecting data, and/or interpreting results. Community science can enable research that would not be possible, or practical, otherwise.
Community science enables volunteer participants to make a direct contribution to research, increase their personal scientific understanding, and immerse themselves deeply in learning about the living world around them. These opportunities can provide personally transformative experiences, as well as an invaluable contribution to research.
Community science is an accessible and fun way for anyone to participate in the scientific process, and all participants in a project use the same protocol to ensure the collection of a large sample of high quality, open access data that can help scientists reach meaningful conclusions. In the past, collecting large samples of data for research was the most challenging task of any research initiative. Now, with public involvement and new technologies like mobile computing devices that allow participants to log data from anywhere, the sky’s the limit!
You may already be a community scientist! A community scientist is an individual who voluntarily contributes his or her time, effort, and resources toward scientific research. All you need to be a community scientist is an eagerness to learn and contribute to new scientific information, no formal science background is necessary!
Today, community scientists have many advocates in the scientific community and come from all walks of life, including thousands of non-traditional participants, kids, outdoor enthusiasts, educators, birders, and students who want a more hands-on experience outside the classroom. If you’re not yet a community scientist, check out our programs.
The University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute and its partners run a selection of community science projects. Each year the Institute adds new projects to its repertoire; some are short single or multiple day events, like the Annual Wyoming Bioblitz, while others are ongoing projects like the Rocky Mountain Amphibian Project, Monarchs and Milkweeds, or our ever-popular Bi-Annual Moose Day. You can contribute species observations, and look at community and professional data any time on our biodiversity data portal- WyoBio.
The Institute organizes citizen science programs with a wide range of levels of engagement and training, so we encourage you to check out our offerings and browse through other programs around the region on our Rocky Mountain Community Science website to see if there are projects that are right for you!