Center for Community & Citizen Science Blog


Free YCCS training — November 17

Youth-focused community and citizen science via distance learning

The annual conference — Science in the River City — is online this year, and it’s also free! Join Peggy Harte, Education Program Manager for the Center for Community and Citizen Science, for a free training on the basics of Youth-focused Community and Citizen Science in the classroom and online.


Our Specific Commitments to Anti-Racism

July, 2020

Last month (June, 2020), the Center for Community and Citizen Science issued a statement committing to take action against racism in the work that we do. As promised in that statement, we have been working on more specific commitments, listed below, which will guide us in the months and years ahead. We intend for this touchstone document to evolve as we learn and grow, and hope that it may be useful to our community of collaborators and beyond.


Did Covid-19 make the “City Nature Challenge” less green?

For his capstone project in the Wild Davis course, taught by CCS Faculty Fellow Laci Gerhart, Nicholas Monty explored spatial shifts in City Nature Challenge observation patterns between 2019 and 2020, using remote sensing measurements of relative “greenness.” We’re happy to share his fascinating approach here. Thank you Nicholas!


Working Toward Racial Justice

June 11, 2020

We at the Center for Community and Citizen Science are horrified and saddened by the most recent iterations of anti-Blackness and systemic racism in our society, our communities, and our institutions. While the events of recent weeks have laid bare their consequences, these systems have always existed in the United States. The murders of George Floyd, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are only recent examples, among countless others, of Black people suffering under a centuries-old system of white supremacy.


This Friday: 2020 City Nature Challenge!

     “This year we want to celebrate life where life is challenged.” 
                                                                                                - Jaime González


City Nature Challenge & COVID-19

The global challenge… fought locally

2020’s City Nature Challenge has been modified to keep organizers and participants safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than the typical competition, this year’s CNC is focusing on collaboration and spending restorative time in nature. You can still document biodiversity safely, although it may require some extra creativity or staying in your home.

The 2020 City Nature Challenge takes place in two parts —

  • April 24 – 27: Taking pictures of wild plants and animals.
  • April 28 – May 3: Identifying what was found.

Outside Wonder Lab

Engaging in citizen science at home

Schools may be closed, but the citizen science fun can continue! For example our CCS Innovator Fellow, Peggy Harte has initiated the Outside Wonder Lab Project to help families learn about their backyards and nearby open spaces while practicing responsible social distancing.

Join your county’s Outside Wonder Lab Project (all listed here) on iNaturalist to discover the creatures that have been sharing your space. Take the first step by going out into your yard, then start observing. Using iNaturalist you can capture pictures of your observations, identify the species you have discovered, and share your findings. Even if we are all physically apart, this project provides an opportunity to learn from each other while contributing to a global database that scientists can use to better understand and protect nature. In the past few days, our Yolo County community has sighted Western Fence Lizards, Sierran treefrogs, American Avocets, and over 2000 other species!


New Video: Gardens & Citizen Science Project in Woodland Elementary Schools

The Center for Community and Citizen Science is happy to share this new video, produced by our partner Yolo County Office of Education, describing our collective work on citizen science in school gardens. The video introduces our ongoing Gardens & Citizen Science Project, and profiles the work teachers are doing to implement citizen science school gardens, in Woodland, California! Check out the video here.


WELCOME Michael Dobbins !

The Center for Community and Citizen Science is excited to welcome Michael Dobbins as the new postdoctoral scholar! Michael will be joining a project focused on marine protected areas (MPAs) in California, analyzing citizen science data collected by participants in the MPA Watch Program. 


New Publication: For Science and Self

Youth Interactions with Data in Citizen and Community Science

Faculty director Heidi Ballard and postdoctoral scholar Erin Bird were recently published in the Journal of the Learning Sciences, in collaboration with UC Davis alumni Emily Harris and Colin Dixon. For Science and Self: Youth Interactions with Data in Community and Citizen Science details how youth interact with and discuss their data by analyzing eight school- and community-based project sites. In doing so, the authors were able to document opportunities for agentive learning with data in youth-focused community and citizen science (YCCS). Their results, “shed light on when and how conditions for expansive learning and agency get established.”


Collabinar: Data Quality and Citizen Science

February 18th, 11am

Join us for the first CCS Collabinar in 2020! Mark your calendar for —

Data Quality and Citizen Science:
Critically analyzing data stories and gaps

Tuesday, February 18th
from 11:00am-1:00pm PST
1460 Drew Avenue, Davis, CA, 95616

Please RSVP here to attend in-person or virtually via Zoom.


New paper: Young Volunteers & Online Participation in Zooniverse

 Appearing in the most recent issue of Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, “What Do We Know About Young Volunteers? An Exploratory Study of Participation in Zooniverse” examines how youth, mainly 16–19 years old, participate in online citizen science projects. The co-authors include Heidi Ballard, the Center’s Faculty Director, and other colleagues collaborating on the LEARN CitSci project, funded jointly by the National Science Foundation and the Wellcome Trust. 



In 2016, the State Board of Education set out to change the way students learn science by adopting the Science Framework for California Public Schools. The new framework is designed to help students deepen their knowledge in four disciplines rather than having shallow understandings on many topics. It also emphasizes what students do with their understanding of science is more important than what they know. This significant shift in the curriculum can revolutionize how students learn and practice science, but it is crucial to prepare K-5 teachers for this transition.


The Alice Waters Institute for Edible Education

Alice Waters Announces Aggie Square Collaboration with UC Davis School of Education

The Alice Waters Institute for Edible Education

On Thursday, January 16th, UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May announced an exciting new partnership with Alice Waters — founder of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse and The Edible Schoolyard Project. A farm-to-table leader, Waters has been vice president of Slow Food International for nearly two decades. Her new food institute, the Alice Waters Institute for Edible Education, will open at UC Davis’ Aggie Square in Sacramento, bringing together experts from across disciplines such as education, health care, agriculture, policy and business to innovate solutions for healthy, sustainable and equitable food systems.


Citizen Science from the “Edge of the Lake”

by Michael P. Montgomery

To anyone familiar with the research that goes on here, it will come as no surprise that the University of California, Davis, has a wide circle of influence. The Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC), located more than 100 miles from campus and just across the Nevada border, is a prime example.

For over 50 years, the TERC has performed groundbreaking research on many aspects of the Lake Tahoe Basin, from water quality to forest ecology. Increasingly, and with help from the Center for Community and Citizen Science (CCCS), this research is incorporating citizen science.


AGU fall meeting 2019: where to find us

We are excited for the AGU Fall Meeting 2019 in San Francisco next week, December 9th-13th. Host of the world’s largest Earth and space science meeting, the American Geophysical Union is also celebrating its Centennial this year! AGU has become an important venue for work on a broad range of environmental topics incorporating education, policy, citizen science, and social science perspectives and approaches.


Listen to a radio interview about “Our Forests”

In early November 2019, KVMR’s Educationally Speaking program invited ​Sol Henson, the Educational Co-Director at Sierra Streams Institute, and our own Erin Bird to discuss the Youth Community Action and Science in Our Forests (“Our Forests”) project, now getting underway in Nevada County. The Our Forests project will train and support participating 3rd, 4th and 5th grade teachers as they work with their students, local environmental scientists and community organizations to study local forests and fire risk.

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