The University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute will host the first Wyoming Citizen Science Conference in Lander December 1.
Citizen Science programs give regular people the chance to work alongside trained scientists on larger research projects in their own natural areas. Conference organizer Brenna Marsicek said biology and astronomy are especially good fits for citizen scientists, since they can easily gather data by simply looking around their own environment
“These folks are not trained in any sort of professional way to search for rocks, or plants, or birds, or whatever the topic is,” said Marsicek. “But because they live in their local community, and have a great knowledge, they’re able to contribute to collecting data and asking questions about what’s happening in their area.”
The emerging field has become increasingly popular, and Marsicek said the conference will concentrate on some of the challenges that have sprung up as more local people get involved. Marsicek said a trespassing law passed in Wyoming in 2015 has caused confusion.
“Folks are just a little unclear about how exactly that impacts Citizen Science work, what land can we go on and can’t we go on, and what types of data can we collect, and what questions are we allowed to ask in certain areas of the state,” said Marsicek.
Marsicek said recruiting and retaining volunteers for citizen science is also difficult and the conference will offer solutions. For more information, or to register, click here.