Dan Ashe served as FWS Director from June 2011 until January 2017. The following is an archive of blogs authored by Director Ashe during that time. This content is intended for historical reference only and not as a representation of current Service policy or opinion.
|FWS Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius (from left), Senator Amy Klobuchar and Dan release monarchs after tagging at an event in Minnesota. Photo by Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS|
When you think of “science,” what comes to mind? People in white lab coats in white rooms, surrounded by beakers and complicated instruments? Geniuses like Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking or Marie Curie in front of blackboards filled with complicated equations?
What if I told you that science is as much about you, and people like you, as it is them? That science is all around you, waiting to be discovered? And that you can play a critical role in increasing our scientific understanding of the world?
It’s true. And yesterday, the White House, in collaboration with the GSA and Wilson Center, launched www.citizenscience.gov to help federal agencies engage and connect millions of Americans in citizen science projects across the nation. I encourage you to visit www.citizenscience.gov to learn about all the incredible ways that the federal government is working to engage the public.
Our world is changing rapidly. So rapidly that any predictions we can make about the future are likely to be incomplete at best, or at worst, wildly inaccurate. Unless we have data. The best scientific minds in the world can only work with the data at hand, and having more available data helps them draw more accurate conclusions.
Data – which can be anything from a temperature reading to the number of birds observed on a pond to the date that your roses start blooming – are the lifeblood of science. And even in the era of Big Data, someone has to collect it.
Why can’t that someone be you, or your family?
All across the world, people just like you are collecting vital data and transmitting it to scientists, vastly increasing our understanding of the physical, chemical and biological processes under way in a wide array of landscapes, watersheds and ecosystems. These citizen scientists have no formal scientific background or special knowledge. What they do have is a passion for the natural world, and the tenacity and dedication to observe and report what they see.
Citizen science projects offer kids a great opportunity to connect with the natural world and understand what’s happening around them – something that’s increasingly difficult in our rapidly urbanizing society.
|Young use the e-Bird Trail Tracker at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Photo by Steve Hillebrand/USFWS|
The possibilities are endless – as is our need for citizen science. Here are just a few examples of how we’re utilizing citizen scientists to gather data across the nation:
These are just a few of the dozens of opportunities to get engaged! You can help monitor shorebird migrations along the Delaware and New Jersey coasts; observe and report brown pelicans in California; listen for the distinct call of the woodcock across New England and the Northeast; or participate in many more great projects.
I encourage you to visit www.citizenscience.gov to learn about all the ways that the Federal Government is working to engage the public in citizen science. These efforts are incredibly rewarding for families and children, and enable millions of Americans to make a real contribution to our understanding of the world. No lab coats needed!