Calling All Citizen Scientists!

Have you always wanted to contribute to the science world outside of healthcare and bioscience?  Below are some “Citizen Science” tools and resources, shared by our colleagues in the public library world, that encourage the public to participate in science projects.  As a librarian from the Westminster Public library wrote, “The Citizen Science opportunities look like a great way for us non-scientists to contribute.”  Feel free to explore from the convenience of your computer. 

[shared by Lisa Traditi from the Colorado Association of Libraries discussion list]

Help a team of astronomers by classifying galaxies from Hubble images.  All the training you need is provided and you are doing work best done by human eyes – computers just aren’t good at this.  (from K. Bary of Westminster Public Library)

– The USGS LandsatLook Viewer allows searching and downloading of full-resolution land satellite images. (from E. Wild of the  USGS Library)

  • Zoom in to area of interest
  • Select “Current & Older”
  • Select “Select Scenes”
  • move back through time from Oct 2011 to Jan 1999
  • select “Labels” to view town, street, etc names…
  • click Metadata to view the image’s info
  • the table feature allows for easy exports and organization of the data imagery

Help page available at:    Other information:

Here are more Citizen Science projects, listed by our friends at the U.S. Geological Survey Denver Library (USGS Libraries:


  1. Did You Feel It?
    People who experience an earthquake are encouraged to go online and share information about its effects to help create a map of shaking intensities and damage. These “Community Internet Intensity Maps” contribute greatly toward the quick assessment of the scope of an earthquake emergency and provide valuable data for earthquake research.
  2. Contribute to earthquake research and have a seismograph installed in your home or office. By installing these instruments in select urban areas USGS scientists are able to obtain better measurements of ground motion during earthquakes. These measurements improve our ability to make rapid post-earthquake assessments of expected damage and contribute to the continuing development of engineering standards for construction.
  3. Did You See It?
    This website, developed by the USGS Landslide Hazards Program, asks anyone who saw a landslide anywhere in the country to report their observations. These observations will be used to build a more complete landslide database that will help scientists gain a clearer picture of how landslides affect the entire U.S.


  1. USA National Phenology Network –
    The USA-NPN brings together citizen scientists, government agencies, non-profit groups, educators and students of all ages to monitor the impacts of climate change on plants and animals in the U.S. Join and share your observations on phenological events like leaf out, flowering, and migration patterns with others across the county.
  2. Invasive Plant Atlas of the MidSouth –
    This program trains volunteers to identify important invasive plant species, teaches how to use the on-line database to enter plant locations, and provides information on the management of these species. Data derived from volunteers will be combined with previous research and will aid in the production of distribution maps for species of interest.
  3. Invasive Plant Atlas of New England –
    Assist a network of professionals and trained volunteers on creating a comprehensive database of invasive and potentially invasive plants in New England. The database will facilitate education and research that will lead to a greater understanding of invasive plant ecology and support informed conservation management.
  4. Project BudBurst –
    Be part of this national field campaign that engages the public in the collection of important ecological data based on the timing of leafing, flowering, and fruiting of plants. The collected data is freely available to anyone who wants to use it.
  5. Purple Loosestrife Volunteers –
    People living at many latitudes in North America, Eurasia, and Australia are volunteering to help assess purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) in their regions. Purple loosestrife is native to Eurasia but invaded northern North America after accidental introduction in the 1800s. Study results will help in efforts to control and predict the future spread of this species.

Birds, Amphibians and More!

  1. North American Bird Phenology Program –  Be part of a worldwide coordinated effort to scan and transcribe a historic collection of six million bird migration observations collected by Federally-coordinated volunteers between 1880 and 1970. With the help of citizen volunteers, these records are being scanned and made accessible for analysis.
  2. The North American Breeding Bird Survey –
    Join thousands of volunteers in the collection of data for this long-term, large scale, international avian monitoring program initiated in 1966 to track the status and trends of North American bird populations. BBS data are collected by volunteers along randomly established roadside routes throughout the continent.
  3. National Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey –
    Take part in this program which monitors the status of Bald Eagle wintering populations in the contiguous U.S. by estimating national and regional count trends. Volunteers count eagles along standard, non-overlapping survey routes, which provides information on eagle trends, distribution, and habitat.
  4.  North American Amphibian Monitoring Program – Volunteers with this program help monitor the distributions and abundance of frogs and toads. Data collected by citizen scientists contributes to the monitoring of amphibian populations helps to update distribution maps, and increases our understanding of breeding phenology (when frogs call).
  5. The Cactus Moth Detection and Monitoring Network –
    Volunteers are needed to assist state and federal agencies in monitoring the distribution of the cactus moth. Cactus moths quickly destroy strands of pricklypear cactus, and is a threat to natural biodiversity, horticulture, and forage in the southwestern U.S. and Mexico. The data collected is used to support modeling efforts to better predict likely locations for new pricklypear cactus and cactus moth.
  6. Wildlife Health Event Reporter –
    This web-based application is a place concerned citizens can go to report sightings of sick or dead wildlife. This information is used by natural resource managers, researchers, and public health officials to protect the well-being of all living things and to promote a healthy ecosystem.
  7. World Water Monitoring Challenge –
    This international education and outreach program builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local waterbodies.


Didn’t see a Citizen Science project to your liking? Visit America’s natural and cultural resources volunteer portal and search for volunteer opportunities that suit your interests and needs.

If you have any questions about USGS science contact USGS Science Information Services at:
Phone: 1-888-ASK-USGS (1-888-275-8747)  –  E-mail form: