Participatory science projects
Participatory science projects are a great way for people of all backgrounds - scientific or not - to connect with nature and contribute to important scientific research on a regular basis. Volunteers on these projects collect data under the direction of site scientists and contribute to large, long-term scientific projects. Most projects involve a training day as well as a regular commitment to follow protocols and conduct fieldwork. The time commitment varies by project and can be adjusted somewhat to fit your schedule. This is a great opportunity to participate in scientific research and to earn hours you may need for Master Naturalist or similar volunteer programs.
Cedar Creek: Eyes On The Wild (ongoing)
Are you sitting at your desk but secretly dreaming you were hiking in the woods? Interested in meaningfully contributing to scientific research, but don’t know where to begin or don't think you have the skills? Come with us on an “armchair exploration” of Cedar Creek and explore the beautiful landscape of the reserve through our network of remote camera traps! These hidden cameras, deployed across the 9-square mile Cedar Creek property, provide a sneak peek into the secret lives of animals. Researchers investigating animal behavior and community dynamics need to extract information from millions of images, but are currently overwhelmed by the large volume of data we have generated. We need your help! You can directly assist Cedar Creek researchers by classifying animals in camera trap images online at eyesonwild.com or on your phone using the free Zooniverse app. Keep an eye on the project's Facebook page and blog for more updates as our work (and yours!) progresses! You can read a wonderful overview of the project in the Star Tribune or watch a video about our research on KSTP Channel 5 News.
Cedar Creek Wildlife Survey Project (ongoing)
The Cedar Creek Wildlife Survey (CCWS) is a participatory science project started in summer 2016 in cooperation with Jonathan Poppele and the Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project (www.mntracking.org). The goal of CCWS is to connect participants with nature and the world around them, survey the diversity of wildlife on the Cedar Creek property, and provide Cedar Creek scientists with valuable data about our wildlife. Surveys take place once a season, with other events and tracking classes scattered throughout the year. No tracking experience necessary – come learn this new skill and then put it to use on Cedar Creek’s sand roads! Please contact Jonathan Poppele (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information on upcoming training opportunities and survey days, and to be added to the information list for project events. We hold ~2 public tracking surveys annually; additional surveys are conducted by project leaders and highly experienced volunteers. Please see mntracking.org/calendar for dates of upcoming surveys and learning opportunities at Cedar Creek and elsewhere around the state.
Read about recent surveys on the Minnesota Tracking Project's blog posts:
Red-headed Woodpecker Recovery Project
The Red-headed Woodpecker Recovery Project (RhWR) is a program of the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis. The research aspect of it is led by Dr. Elena West, a faculty member at the U of MN. From 2008 to 2020, RhWR volunteers monitored and conducted research in Cedar Creek’s oak savannas to learn more about woodpecker nesting and habitat preferences, breeding behavior and brood rearing. This project is particularly notable since red-headed woodpeckers are in decline throughout Minnesota and the rest of their range, but seem to be stable here at Cedar Creek. As Dr. West's grants are funded and run their course, the specific opportunities for volunteers vary. Currently, volunteers are needed to classify thousands of hours of nest camera videos at http://z.umn.edu/woodpeckercams! We are not recruiting volunteers for field work in 2023.
More information about RhWR at the project’s webpage or follow along with sporadic research updates at rhworesearch.org.
Phenology Monitoring (not actively recruiting volunteers)
Phenology, the study of seasonal cycles, is an important area of research at Cedar Creek and around the world. Regular phenology monitoring can provide insight into and evidence for how climate change and other human impacts are affecting our natural communities. At Cedar Creek, a small team of scientists and community members conducts weekly monitoring of nearly 100 individually-marked plants in several ecosystems. Volunteers must have their own transportation, be able to follow a standard protocol that involves recording data in a cell phone app, and commit to surveying 1-2 times per month from March to November. To volunteer, reach out to Dr. Katrina Freund Saxhaug (email@example.com).
Minnesota Bumble Bee Survey (completed)
Help us help bumble bees across the state! This project, coordinated by the U of M Bee Squad and U of M Extension, has been running at locations statewide since 2007. Cedar Creek has participated since 2018. On survey days at the reserve, volunteers learn how to collect and identify bees, identify flowering plants, and contribute to a statewide effort to understand and protect our native pollinators! No experience is necessary and all ages are welcome. This project wrapped up in 2020 and is no longer active.