The Center for Community and Citizen Science is a home to programs and partnerships that revolutionize how—and with whom—science gets done. Based on a foundation of research excellence, the Center helps scientists, communities, and citizens collaborate on science to address environmental problems as a part of civic life.
What are Community and Citizen Science?
Community Science and Citizen Science engage members of the public to collaborate with professional scientists to conduct research-based investigations, engage in monitoring activities, collect data and interpret results, and produce new knowledge used for natural resource management or basic research. This includes community science, which is community-driven research or monitoring in partnership with scientists.
Join our Community
Sign up here to receive updates and learn how you can help shape this new initiative in the coming months. And you can always contact us.
With support from the Open
Rivers Fund, a program run by the Resources Legacy Fund, our
Dams and Watershed
Health team, Heidi Ballard, Ryan Meyer, and Chris Jadallah
traveled to Missoula, Montana in July 2019 to observe and
participate in the environmental monitoring associated with the
removal of Rattlesnake Creek Dam.
Originally built to provide water for the City of Missoula
in 1904, the Rattlesnake Creek Dam was first constructed as
a wooden structure and later converted into a concrete one. After
problems with Giardia contamination in the
early 1980s, a private utility took the dam offline and the City
of Missoula converted to groundwater as its primary source
for drinking water.
Citizen and Community Science plays a special role in efforts to
conserve and manage California’s ocean and coastal resources.
There is a
huge diversity of projects and programming operating up and
down the coast, which engage the public in science and
monitoring, often with direct connections to policy and
Building Career Pathways and
Networks for Underrepresented STEM Students
Tuesday, June 11th
From 1:00pm-3:00pm PST
At this Collabinar, we will be hearing from Melissa B.
Wilson, who will share her experiences working in St. John, U.S.
Virgin Islands. Our discussion will focus on ways to engage
underrepresented students in STEM careers.
Our CCS Collabinar Series featured another great presentation—
CALeDNA, Next Steps:
Creating a scalable roadmap for how a community science program
involved in cutting edge research can build a strong feedback
Friday, May 24th
from 11:00am-1:00pm PST
Launched in 2017, CALeDNA is
a University of California community science program that uses
environmental DNA to monitor California’s biodiversity. Creating
an open data platform aimed at the public and researchers alike
was a first step in engaging both parties in this research.
Analyses thus far have demonstrated the effectiveness of marine
protected areas, the relationship between fire and plant
biodiversity, and the spread of invasive species. They have also
shown which questions are well-suited to eDNA methods and which
are not. CALeDNA wants to empower their broad community with
genetics literacy and the ability to use eDNA for innovation and
We have enjoyed continuing our Collabinar series this
spring! On Friday, May 17th we had the fascinating
opportunity to learn more about—
Sci Starter Education: a new, pilot, Ed-Tech
platform to integrate facilitator-led citizen science in schools
through district- and school-wide approaches
Many may have heard of SciStarter, which helps people
find, join, and contribute to citizen science through its
database of thousands of citizen science projects taking place
all over the world. In this event, we learned about a new
SciStarter initiative that points to possibilities for scaled up
integration of citizen science in the classroom.
The Center collaborated with the California Naturalist Program,
educators in the Woodland Joint Unified School District, and a
variety of local nature centers and reserves to encourage
participation in the Sacramento City Nature Challenge.
Despite being its first year participating in this global
competition (as one of more than 160 cities worldwide), over 500
people in the Sacramento region logged 9,798 observations of over
1,200 unique species using iNaturalist.
What was your path to where
you are today, and when did you first become involved with
community and citizen science?
During my years in higher education, I became fascinated with
ethnobotany—the study of cultural uses of plants—as well as the
emerging fields of conservation biology and sustainable
development. Across all these fields, I was most drawn to studies
that involved collaborative monitoring, where different groups of
stakeholders—environmentalists, resource-dependent communities,
scientists, and agencies—all came together to collect data.
Governments and communities around
the world are working to reduce their carbon footprints and
mitigate the effects of climate change, but in some communities,
climate action plans are stalling. A new report, “Evaluating
Knowledge to Support Climate Action,” prepared by the
Independent Advisory Committee for Applied Climate Assessment
(IAC) with contributions from our Executive Director, Ryan Meyer,
examines what it would take to develop a dynamic assessment
process that helps affected jurisdictions, communities, and
organizations establish pathways for climate action. Its
recommendations are an important input to ongoing climate
assessment and research in the federal government and elsewhere.
A role for community and citizen science
Bringing communities to the table and making sure they have the
resources they need to adapt to new climate conditions is
important, and community and citizen science play a critical
role. This report hits upon the urgent need and exciting
potential for diverse communities to participate actively in the
science that supports climate adaptation and resilience.
Participation through community and citizen science can address
longstanding issues of equity and access that have for so long
made science feel distant and irrelevant to many, even as the
impacts of climate change loom larger and larger. Additionally,
citizen and community science has the potential to close gaps in
data-poor areas, shedding light on previously undocumented
socioeconomic, ecological and health-related issues.
We’re looking forward to the upcoming Citizen Science Association
(CSA) conference, right around the corner! Come catch up with us
and our work at the events listed below. We are also excited to
host a youth-focused community and citizen science happy hour
alongside the Education Working Group on Thursday March 14th,
from 6:00-8:00PM. It will be an informal evening of networking
and discussing the involvement of young people in citizen and
community science. See the image below for more information, and
For the first time ever, the Sacramento Region will be
participating in the City Nature Challenge. We
will be competing with more than 160 cities all over the world to
see who can catalogue the most nature in just 4 days! We think
that joining this global effort to discover local biodiversity
through citizen science is a great opportunity for the Center,
and for the region.
I practiced my poster presentation with my family the night
before my flight to Washington, D.C. The poster explored features
of community and citizen science (CCS) projects that had a
climate change focus. We were interested in showing how, within
the context of climate change, CCS has the potential to not only
generate usable data for climate science, but also to provide
meaningful learning experiences for participants, depending on
how these projects are designed and implemented. I thought it
would be a good idea to practice talking about this work with
people who had no idea what citizen science is, but their puzzled
looks made me feel even more nervous about going to AGU. I spent
that night fighting anxious thoughts and battling the infamous
The National Academies of Sciences,
Engineering and Medicine has released a new report that takes a
deep dive into research on learning through citizen science.
Beyond the many challenges and recommendations it details, the
report is a strong affirmation that citizen science can support
both science learning and research goals. We’re proud that our
work has informed this effort, including an Academy-commissioned
white paper and keynote talk by Faculty Director Heidi Ballard,
and Center Alums Emily Harris and Colin Dixon.
The Center for Community and
Citizen Science is excited to welcome Maryam Ghadiri as the new
postdoctoral fellow on the LEARN CitSci project. Maryam was
recently the director of education and research at the Environmental Learning Center
(ELC), a non-profit organization in Vero Beach, Florida. She
worked with educators and ecologists to design, implement and
evaluate different environmental education and outreach
The City Nature
Challenge began as a nature-observation competition between
the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County in 2016,
organized around simple charge: “which city can find the most
nature?” Since then, the competition has expanded rapidly, and
this year more than 120
cities will participate worldwide!
The Center hosted another CCS
Collabinar event from 9:00-11:00 AM on Wednesday, December 5th.
The presentation focused on place-based citizen science in Lake
Tahoe, and integrating multiple projects in a single framework.