During the course of my internship, I learned about Citizen Scientists, otherwise referred to as Community Scientists, a more contemporary term. Community Scientists are people volunteering their time and knowledge to various science efforts. The people volunteering come from a variety of backgrounds and hold varying degrees of scientific experience, ranging from not having a science background to holding a solid amount of experience. Due to the importance of collecting data for the creation of scientific conclusions with significance, these volunteers with strong scientific backgrounds play a critical role. With very limited funding allocated to natural resource endeavors, Community Scientists and their participation is becoming increasingly important.
Community Scientists do all kinds of work. While working for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) California Coastal National Monument (CCNM), I primarily work with the Community Scientists monitoring Black Oystercatcher (BLOY). These volunteers monitor BLOYs to track their nesting and territory patterns, and whether they successfully hatch a baby bird.
In addition, participating in meetings with the Monterey Audubon Society, and from surveying shorebirds at the Elkhorn Slough, I have been provided with the opportunity to get to know more of the BLOY monitors. I have so much appreciation for the work that these Community Scientists do and for the data they produce in the name of science.
At the BLM office, I am updating the BLOY territory maps in hopes of maintaining continuity and ease of onboarding for those working with BLOYs along the CCNM. I am enthusiastic to contribute to the BLM office through the production of these maps because they will provide guidance for users and a historical record of BLOY territories. The maps contain territory boundaries, pathways, trails, and observation points. My knowledge of BLOY territories is greatly attributed to BLOY monitors, Bill Standley (my BLM supervisor) and Rick Hanks.
Beyond the immediate contribution Community Scientists offer, encouraging people to volunteer and get involved with their natural world grants locals stewardship over it. Empowering people to participate is increasingly important for local and global change towards a sustainable world.