Other Projects and Resources

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Varied opportunities with friends groups at DEC regional environmental centers, delivering sportsman education, observing wildlife (e.g., gamebirds, bobcats), and even diving on artificial reefs and submitting records.

  • Focus: Varies
  • Season: Varies
  • Geographic location: New York State
  • Tools: Varies
  • Time commitment: Varies
  • Cost: None to participate
  • Other: Search DEC website using the keyword “volunteer” then scroll through listings

New York City Bee Watchers

This is a subgroup under a nationwide project on pollinators focused on the 226 species of bees currently known from New York City. It is particularly helpful if you know at least common names of flowering plants, but you can send in digital photos for help with identifications. As for the bees, the project uses four categories of honey bees, bumble bees, carpenter bees, and metallic green bees. Project organization is currently through the American Museum of Natural History.

  • Focus: Bees in the city
  • Season: Spring, Summer, Fall (when temperatures are above 70 degrees F).
  • Geographic location: Prospect Park, Central Park, and Forest Park have official stations, but other sites are fine.
  • Tools: None
  • Time commitment: First and third weekends of each month are preferred. The best times to observe are 10 am to 12 Noon. Watch a flower for up to 30 minutes or until five bees have visited, recording what you see. “Zero” visits are still valuable to document.
  • Cost: None
  • Other: Records can be submitted as a .doc file using email, or sent by paper copy

Mushroom Observer

Perhaps less than 5% of the species in Kingdom Fungi are well-known, and amateur mycologists are needed to help find, describe, and report species worldwide. This community also helps observers identify mushrooms correctly with a searchable database and interactions with other members, and has plans for website translations in four languages. This is a great project if you are also a photographer, since new images are continually sought from each reporting location.

  • Focus: Fungi, broadly defined, to include lichens
  • Season: Any
  • Geographic location: Worldwide
  • Tools: Digital camera helpful
  • Time commitment: Open
  • Cost: None
  • Other: The all-volunteer project is also seeking help from people with web design skills, developers, and translation skills (German, Spanish, Portuguese).


Newly sponsored by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, FrogWatchUSA helps citizen scientists find frog and toad hotspots, identify different species, and quantify frog call intensity which correlates to frog abundance. One of the key research outcomes so far has been learning about “probabilities of detection” of different species under different environmental conditions.

  • Focus: Frogs and toads
  • Season: Early spring through summer
  • Geographic location: Nationwide including New York
  • Tools: Flashlight, thermometer, watch, paper copy of Beaufort wind scale to estimate wind intensity without technical equipment (download from the web).
  • Time commitment: Suggested 20 minutes per week, beginning 30 minutes after sunset and using 3-minute sampling periods
  • Cost: None
  • Other: Learn the calls from online links or cds; submit records online or on paper copies

Firefly Watch (Museum of Science, Boston)

Does it seem like there are fewer fireflies out during summer nights than you remember as a kid? You’re not alone in thinking that. This project, organized by Tufts University and Fitchburg State College, uses a map blog for volunteers to share their observations and document patterns of firefly abundance. Some of the habitat factors may be human application of fertilizers and pesticides, the bright lights in cities, and even the amount of standing water – we really don’t know!

  • Focus: Any firefly species, three in New England can be identified by their flash pattern.
  • Season: Late spring through summer
  • Geographic location: Eastern U.S., including New York
  • Tools: Internet
  • Time commitment: Open, ten minutes per week suggested
  • Cost: None
  • Other: Project includes a discussion board and interviews with scientists.

Project FeederWatch (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Count the highest number of birds of each species seen over a limited time period, two consecutive days once every two weeks. Information about common birds is just as important as for rare ones. Data collected is analyzed by scientists and contributes to reports on the status of North American birds. This is one of the longest running and best-known citizen science projects in the U.S.

  • Focus: Birds
  • Season: November through April
  • Geographic location: State and nationwide
  • Tools: Bird feeder.
  • Time commitment: A few hours per month in winter, more if desired.
  • Cost: $15 covers a research kit, feeder tips, and subscription to project updates.
  • Other: Cornell hosts an online bird identification guide and shares project results from past years online, including your personal count records and abundances by state.

National Phenology Network

Long term monitoring of plant phenology (timing of leaf out, flowering, fruit ripening, leaf color change, etc.), is being used to document the response of ecosystems to global climate change. Citizen science volunteers may participate at three different degrees of intensity, based on level of expertise, interest or time commitment. The three sub-projects are: Project Budburst; NPN Core Protocols; or NPN Intensive Protocols.

  • Focus: Phenology and environmental variables/climate change
  • Season: Growing Season
  • Geographic location: Nationwide
  • Tools: Activity Guide, Identification Guides (both downloadable from site)
  • Time commitment: Need to observe selected plant throughout the growing season (ideally every day) and record the date of each phenophase.
  • Cost: None
  • Other: In 2010 Insect and Animal phenology will be included in the monitoring.

Mountain Plant Monitoring (Appalachian Mountain Club)

Volunteers collect data on time of plant flowering (phenology), and these observations are then collected in a database of environmental trends. The data can be used to study the impact of global climate change on key flora of the Appalachian Mountain ecosystems. Alpine flowers may be monitored in the alpine parts of the mountains and the forest flowers at 1500 feet and above, in most mountain ranges in the eastern U.S.

  • Focus: Phenology of alpine flowers and/or forest flowers
  • Season: Late May through August
  • Geographic location: Appalachian Mountains (Georgia to Maine)
  • Tools: Field Guide and data sheet (download from site or request by mail)
  • Time commitment: No minimum specified
  • Cost: None
  • Other: AMC has also partnered with the national and regional phenology networks in monitoring fall leaf-color changes.

Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program

The Adirondack Park contains the largest area of wilderness East of the Mississippi and in recent years a variety of invasive plant species have been documented in the park. Inventory and control methods have been introduced to eradicate or stop the spread of these species. Citizen volunteers can contribute by participating in the inventory process or engaging in control activities. Data collected from the inventories is used to produce maps of the distribution of the targeted species. Volunteers attend a training session on plant identification and survey methods.

  • Focus: Invasive Plant Species
  • Season: June, July, August
  • Geographic location: Adirondack Park
  • Tools: None
  • Time commitment: Conduct at least one survey between June and August
  • Cost: None
  • Other: Date, times and locations are announced in late spring/early summer

Adirondack Biodiversity Project: All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI)

Individuals and groups look for all species within a particular study area, documenting habitat preferences that can inform management of park resources. In 2007, a large “bio-blitz” event was held at the Paul Smiths Visitor Information Center and found 382 species in 24 hours.A new faculty position at Paul Smiths College is planned to help coordinate this inventory in the future. This idea started with a survey of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, led by the Discover Life in America organization.

  • Focus: All species in Adirondack Park
  • Season: Any
  • Geographic location: Northeast NY
  • Tools: None required
  • Time commitment: Open
  • Cost: None
  • Other: A User’s Guide is planned for the project website

Smartphone Apps for Wildlife Observations

Three citizen science projects created by Danielle Garneau, Associate Professor of Environmental Science at SUNY Plattsburgh. RoadkillGarneau, WildlifeBlitzGarneau, and TrackingWildlifeGarneau. If participants do not have smart phones, they can input information online at the link above.