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Volunteers collect data at a bioblitz.
Cofrin Center for Biodiversity

Citizen Science

Citizen science is a way to help to preserve biodiversity by participating in monitoring and other science based data collection projects.Volunteers work together with scientists and agency resource managers to perform research-related tasks. In some cases no formal training is required, while others expect volunteers to show proficiency in various skills through experience and continuing education coursework or testing.

The Cofrin Center provides both volunteer and educational opportunities for citizen scientists.

We have several projects that rely on the expertise of volunteer citizen science:

  • Volunteers with expertise in identifying birds and frogs help students in our LFRWMP identify birds and amphibians as part of the biological monitoring of individual watersheds on the Fox River.
  • For over 20 years citizen scientists have joined faculty from the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity and National Forest staff to do a weekend bird count at established sited in the Nicolet National Forest. This bird survey is the longest running volunteer bird monitoring program in a U.S. national forest.
  • Volunteers have created an active friends group to support and preserve Toft Point, a state natural area, in Door County. This organization participates in invasive species control, habitat restoration, and serve as trail docents.
  • In 2006 we started a master naturalist program to provide training and certification for volunteers who were interested in becoming . While we have retired the program at UW Green Bay, a Door County chapter organized by The Ridges Sanctuary, provides training every autumn. We are partnering with UW Extension, WI DNR, and several Wisconsin nature centers to create a funded state-wide program.
  • We often have opportunities for ambitious volunteers to assist faculty, staff, and graduate students with ongoing research projects. Recent projects included volunteers that collected native bees in local orchards with graduate student Jay Watson and volunteers who traveled to Panama to collect spiders and millipedes with Dr. Mike Draney.

Citizen Science Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Friends of Toft Point is a group of community members who help in conservation efforts at Toft Point Natural Area in Door County.
  • Friends of the Cofrin Arboretum: We are hoping to start a friends group to help with conservation and restoration activities on the UW Green Bay Cofrin Arboretum. For information contact Bobbie Webster at

Citizen Science Educational Opportunities:

  • Wisconsin Master Naturalist Program: The UW-Green Bay naturalist program is on hold for the time being. But The Ridges Sanctuary offers a training program in Door County each fall.

  • Birder Certification Online provides a rigorous method for verifying field identification skills of both professional and non-professional bird observers. A major goal is to help validate the integrity of bird inventory and monitoring projects by improving and documenting birder identification skills. The program also provides an educational tool for students and recreational birders of all skill levels.

  • Nature learn is an interactive website to help students, volunteers and professionals improve their skills at identifying wildlife by sight or by sound, particularly so that they can participate in nature survey and monitoring programs.

Resources for Citizen Scientists