History of SAFMC Citizen Science Program Development

The creation of the Council's Citizen Science Program between 2015 through 2018 was a deliberate and iterative process involving a host of stakeholders and organized processes. Below is the timeline and process for how the Program was developed.

March 2015 - The Council created a Citizen Science organizing committee. As a first step towards building a program, the committee convened a workshop where interested citizens, fisheries managers and scientists, and citizen science practitioners gathered to develop recommendations for designing such a program.

SAFMC Citizen Science Organizing Committee

  • John Carmichael - SAFMC staff, john.carmichael@safmc.net
  • Amber Von Harten - SAFMC staff, amber.vonharten@safmc.net
  • Dr. Michelle Duval - SAFMC Council Chair (NC representative)
  • Ben Hartig - SAFMC Council member (FL representative)
  • Mark Brown - SAFMC member (SC representative)
  • Dr. Bonnie Ponwith - NMFS, Southeast Fisheries Science Center
  • Leda Dunmire - The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Rick Bonney - Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • Dr. Jennifer Shirk - Cornell Lab of Ornithology


January 2016 - The committee organized the January 2016 Citizen Science Program Design Workshop and drafted the Citizen Science Program Blueprint document outlining the framework recommended by workshop participants for building a Citizen Science Program for the Council.

Citizen Science Workshop - January 2016
The workshop was held January 19-21, 2016 in Charleston, SC. More than 65 invited participants took part, including commercial, for-hire, and private recreational fishermen; partners from each of the four state Sea Grant programs; data managers and scientists from state agencies and NOAA and other federal agencies; and representatives of academic institutions and non-governmental organizations.

Workshop Goals

  1. Learn about the field and applications of citizen science;
  2. Document and evaluate existing citizen science and cooperative research experiences and examples;
  3. Learn about components needed to develop a citizen science initiative.
  4. Develop objectives for the South Atlantic Fishery Citizen Science Program;
  5. Develop recommendations for a framework for achieving program objectives, considering:
    1. Research and monitoring activities appropriate for citizen science;
    2. Funded and unfunded opportunities and avenues to support citizen science;
    3. The full range of data needs (fishery, biological, research, assess, socio-econ, etc);
    4. Potential web-based platforms;
    5. Outreach and education needs, short and long term; and
    6. Governance, including ongoing staff support, management, and oversight.

Workshop Content and Proceedings

Workshop Content: See the January 2016 Citizen Science Workshop page for the agenda, meeting materials, and other resources.

Proceedings: Proceedings - January 2016 Citizen Science Program Design Workshop 


SAFMC Citizen Science Program Blueprint

The workshop deliverable was a “blueprint” plan for a citizen science program. In addition to establishing a governance structure for operations and program oversight, the plan calls for developing five essential program action teams to focus on volunteers; data management; projects and topics management; communication, outreach, and education; and finance. The plan also seeks to establish multiple partnerships with existing programs and agencies to mutually identify research and data needs; improve constituent knowledge, involvement, and buy-in; collect better data to address management issues; increase data gathering capacity; and help to resolve long-standing data needs.

Read the SAFMC Citizen Science Program Blueprint

September 2016 - The Council formed a Council-level Citizen Science Committee to provide guidance for development of the program.

December 2016 - The Council committed to using existing internal resources to support a full-time Council staff position to manage the SAFMC Citizen Science Program. For program information, contact:

2017 - 2018

June 2017 - The Council created a Citizen Science Advisory Panel Pool. Members of the AP Pool have broad expertise and interest in five key areas for program development. The areas include Communication/Outreach/Education, Data Management, Finance, Projects/Topics Management, and Volunteers. To help develop program policies, the members of the AP Pool were appointed to Action Teams in these five areas.

SAFMC Citizen Science Program Design
Organization & Process of the Citizen Science Advisory Panel and Action Teams

Citizen Science Advisory Panel Pool - Purpose
The Citizen Science Advisory Panel Pool is made up of members with interest in becoming involved with the development of the Council's Program and/or have expertise in one of the five key areas of program development. The five areas are,

  1. Communication/Outreach/Education
  2. Data Management
  3. Finance
  4. Project/Topics Management
  5. Volunteers

Members of the AP Pool are appointed to Action Teams, as needed, in these five areas.

See the members of the Citizen Science Advisory Panel Pool - click here

Action Teams - Purpose
As part of the Citizen Science Advisory Panel, the five Action Teams (Communication/Outreach/Education; Data Management; Finance; Project/Topics Management; Volunteers) will develop program policies and recommendations related to the focus area of their Action Team to be reviewed and adopted by the Citizen Science Committee and the Council.

See the members of the five Action Teams - click here

Citizen Science Advisory Panel Pool & Action Teams

Click the links below to learn more about each Action Team and their work plan. Meeting summaries are available upon request.

2017-2018 - The five, Citizen Science Action Teams began meeting in July 2017 with the charge of developing recommendations for how the Council's Citizen Science Program will operate considering all facets of a program that will support, solicit, and develop fishery citizen science projects. The Council also pursued and secured funding through partnership development for an initial pilot citizen science project to test the programmatic framework developed by the Action Teams.

June 2018 -  The Council appointed a Citizen Science Operations Committee made up of members of the Action Teams and agency partners to help draft Standard Operations Policies & Procedures (SOPPs) for the Citizen Science Program.

December 2018 - The Council reviewed and adopted the SOPPs.