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12 weeks of winter: Participate in a citizen science project

March 4, 2021

Starting to get a little cabin fever this winter? We've got a list of activities to keep you busy for the rest of Minnesota's longest season! Each week we will share a new nature activity for you to try in order to beat the cold and enjoy the great outdoors.

Make sure you bundle up and use your best judgment on those super chilly days—when the temps dip dangerously low, consider indoor nature activities instead.


Group of people with bug nets

When members of the general public undertake directed scientific work, that's called citizen science! These projects are often done in collaboration with professional scientists and scientific institutions. Participants in citizen science projects are using real science to help address local and global problems, advance medical science, build tools for the future and discover new worlds. Sounds amazing, right? Well, you can help!

There are so many citizen science projects to choose from. You can identify animals on game cameras, help transcribe museum exhibits, take photos and document biodiversity, measure carbon capture in trees—the list is endless. Pick your favorite topic or choose one you know nothing about and learn about it.  

The University of Minnesota has lots of great research projects going on that use citizen scientist people-power. Take a look at the CitSci@UMN website to see if any pique your interest. If you'd like to broaden your search, SciStarter can help you find the perfect project for you.

No matter your age, ability or background, there is a project that will fit you perfectly. So take these last few weeks of winter to find some science that needs your help, and perhaps once spring arrives you'll be ready for a great field season!

Amy Rager is an Extension educator based in Morris, MN, and oversees the Minnesota Master Naturalist program.

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