(NEWSLETTER - Spring 2019)
To kick off this newsletter’s Citizen Science Corner, I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself since I recently moved into the Council’s Citizen Science Program Manager position. I’m Julia Byrd and for the past six years I have been working with the Council as a Coordinator for the SEDAR Program. SEDAR is the cooperative process by which stock assessments are conducted in NOAA Fisheries’ Southeast Region. While with SEDAR, I was fortunate enough to work with many of our federal and state partners, as well as fishermen throughout the region. I learned about many of the data challenges we face in the South Atlantic, as well as what can make data useful for science and management decision making. I’m excited to bring my experience to the Council’s Citizen Science Program, helping to build on all of the incredible work produced by my predecessor, Amber Von Harten, the Citizen Science Program’s Action Teams, the Operations Committee, and the Council over the last few years!
In an early effort to get my feet wet, I helped convene a small team of stakeholders involved with the Council’s Citizen Science Program to participate in CitSci 2019, a national conference hosted by theCitizen Science Association March 13-17, 2019, in Raleigh, NC. The conference brought together over 800 people working in the citizen science field across the country and internationally. As part of the conference program, the Council’s Citizen Science team, which included staff and Action Team members, along with Dr. Jennifer Shirk of the Citizen Science Association, held a symposium to share the story of how the Council developed their Citizen Science Program and to open a dialogue with others interested in new approaches for program development. During the symposium, Action Team members showcased the work their teams did to develop recommendations and best practices for use in projects under the Council’s Program.
Additionally, John Carmichael, the Council’s Deputy Director for Science, was a panelist in a session on Problem Driven Citizen Science coordinated by Dr. Shirk and Rick Bonney of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The panel included representatives from many organizations, including the U.S. Forest Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and The PEW Charitable Trusts. Based on the discussion, it appears that no matter the species or discipline, there seem to be universal issues that arise when using citizen science for decision making. Identified challenges ranged from the need to build trust between stakeholders to the hesitation that some institutions have for using citizen science data.
Participating in the CitSci 2019 conference was a great way to start my new role. It really allowed us to broaden and build up our network of citizen science professionals, which in turn, will provide opportunities for us to learn from each other, share resources and tools, and collectively develop strategies to address common challenges. This will certainly benefit the Council’s Citizen Science Program as we move forward and launch our first projects. Be on the lookout for more on these pilot projects in the next issue of the newsletter and in our blog posts.
To keep up with the Citizen Science Program and to receive information about getting involved in projects, please click here to provide us with your contact info.