Citizen Science Projects

Image: Class looking at wildlife at the field station


The Field Station is home to several citizen science projects, designed to get the public involved with science research, exploration and education. Hiram College students and faculty in the sciences often lead projects, and non-science faculty, staff, students and the community take an active role in data collecting and more.

Current Projects

Citizen science involves the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists. The following citizen science projects, currently underway, are open to the entire community:

Spearheaded by students in 2013, Hiram College’s FrogWatch USA chapter teaches local residents and students to identify frog calls and wetland sites.

Students can participate in this project by taking a two credit hour FrogWatch course, in which they spend time at the Field Station collecting data and learning the science behind frog populations. They also complete a service learning project, leading a variety of community programs at the Field Station and local schools. Community members may also attend FrogWatch sessions and learn how to record data in their own communities to become certified volunteers.

The goal of FrogWatch USA, a national initiative, is to paint a nationwide picture of frog populations and identify why and if they are declining.

Citizen scientists in the northern hemisphere plant red emperor tulip bulbs to help monitor seasonal change in a scientific way. At planting and in the spring when plants emerge and bloom, data is reported to Journey North, the nation’s premiere citizen scientist program for children.

Journey North keeps garden observations in a permanent database. With long-term data, important scientific questions can be explored: How do the Earth’s different climate conditions affect plant growth? What patterns do the data reveal? Are variations normal? How does this spring compare with previous years?

A group of six to nine year old children from the Hiram area planted 80 red emperor tulip bulbs in beds at the James H. Barrow Biological Field Station on November 15, 2014. They reported planting date, emerge date and bloom date to Journey North in spring 2015. The children will continue to monitor emerge and bloom dates in the future.

Phenology is the study of recurring biological phenomena and their relationship to weather. The Ohio State University Phenology Gardens have been set up to record the changes in phenology events across the state of Ohio. The trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials planted in the OSU Phenology Garden network sites are monitored for first and full bloom, which will assist with identifying insect activity. They are also monitored for native pollinator activity.

The Portage County site for the OSU network is located at the James H. Barrow Biological Field Station. Citizen scientists collect bloom data and pollinator data and upload it to the OSU Phenology Network website. In addition, they maintain and expand the garden as required.

Long-term monitoring of butterfly populations began in 2013 and was spearheaded by alumnus, Patricia Bohls (‘15).  Each summer, Hiram College students, faculty and the community identify butterflies along a 45-minute walking loop along the hiking trails.  Information on this project and how you can get involved can be found at the trailhead pavilion.

Each July, the James H. Barrow Biological Field Station participates in National Moth Week by having a nighttime community event. This citizen science program contributes to an on-going effort to catalog moth species diversity across the globe.