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Survey reveals interest in a Citizen Science network for Minnesota

A recent survey of citizen science practitioners across Minnesota revealed strong interest in building a statewide network to inform, connect and educate about citizen science. Conducted by the University of Minnesota Extension’s Community of Practice for Citizen Science, the survey’s goal was to identify those working in citizen science and find out if there is interest in working together to use citizen science to strengthen conservation, education, community and other outcomes.

The initial invitation to complete the survey was sent to 100 participants in a University-sponsored Convergence Colloquium networking event on the topic of citizen science. Respondents were encouraged to forward the survey invitation to others in their contacts lists who may be interested, resulting in a “snowball” sampling.

To date, 92 respondents from a variety of agencies and organizations have completed the survey.

With instructions to “Check all that apply,” more than half the respondents reported affiliations with a college or university (52%), with the second largest group (20%) from a non-profit organization. The remaining respondents identified with a state agency (11%), watershed management organization (10%), school district (5%), park district (2%), and a sprinkling of city/municipality, regional/county government, federal agency, and small business affiliations.

These respondents chose a role that best described their primary work with citizen science:

Respondents reported an overwhelmingly positive interest in participating in a network of citizen science practitioners to inform, connect and educate each other about topics related to citizen science. Those responding “It depends” referenced concerns about topics and time availability.

With this clear demonstration of interest, respondents indicated that in-person conferences and workshops are ways they’d like to participate in a network. Social media and webinars were also indicated as communication methods they were likely to participate in, with casual meet-ups and networking events being highly unlikely options they’d engage in.

When this group gathers for training or conferences, the priority topics participants would like to see are indicated in order of preference:

Networking with others working in citizen science
Using citizen science to teach environmental education/STEM
Funding opportunities
Ensuring quality data
Volunteer training
Data entry tools/platforms
Case studies of specific citizen science programs
Citizen science-related work going on at the national and international levels
Developing instructional materials (volunteer manual, activity materials, etc.)
Volunteer management
Volunteer recruitment

Next Steps
Extension’s Community of Practice for Citizen Science is exploring ways to connect the statewide audience of professionals working in the area of citizen science. Ideas include a conference or summit, a training workshop series, or webinars.

The University of Minnesota Extension Community of Practice for Citizen Science includes Extension Educators from a variety of disciplines who are working to raise awareness of the citizen science work going on in Extension and, ultimately, strengthen the outcomes of citizen science programs by improving their ability to engage and support volunteers to provide accurate, continued data collection.

For more information, please contact Andrea at

By: Andrea Lorek Strauss, Extension Educator – Fish, Wildlife & Conservation Education

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