Citizen science and stewardship are two different but related activities that encourage public participation in helping to understand and manage the world around us.
What is Stewardship?
Stewardship, in its simplest sense, is the act of taking care of something. In terms of the land around us, stewardship can be expressed in many ways, from simple things such as pulling invasive weeds to protect a natural area, to volunteering to help in a complex species reintroduction program. Whatever the activity, stewardship is about citizens helping to care for the world around them, the world in which they live, work, and play.
What is Citizen Science?
Citizen science is the collection, and sometimes analysis, of data by members of the general public, usually in collaboration with a scientist or scientific organization. Citizen scientists have played critical roles in collecting data related to large-scale projects such as the Breeding Bird Survey or Christmas Bird Count and more and more opportunities for public participation in the scientific process are becoming available.
Stewardship and Citizen Science Opportunities
A variety of organizations currently engage in stewardship in the Beaver Hills region. These include:
- Friends of Elk Island Society http://www.elkisland.ca/
- Nature Conservancy of Canada http://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/
- Friends of Blackfoot http://www.dotheblackfoot.ca/
- Alberta Fish & Game Association http://www.afga.org/
- Alberta Conservation Association http://www.ab-conservation.com/go/default/
- Edmonton & Area Land Trust http://www.ealt.ca/
- North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance https://www.nswa.ab.ca/
- Waskahegan Trail Association http://www.waskahegantrail.ca/aboutus/help.asp
- Alberta TrailNet http://www.albertatrailnet.com/
- Halfmoon Lake Wetland Enhancement Society Contact Jack at 780-297-5558 to volunteer
What are the benefits of stewardship and citizen science?
Benefits to you
- Provides an opportunity to learn and for personal development.
- Positive social interaction with a wide range of fellow citizens.
- Increase your sense of community.
- Connect with nature in the Beaver Hills in unique ways.
Benefits to the Beaver Hills
- Increases public bioliteracy.
- Fosters a sense of place amongst residents and visitors.
- Promotes a public connection with the land.
- Generates a culture of stewardship for the land.
How can you participate?
Volunteers participate in two critical areas of land or ecosystem management.
- Data collection and/or data analysis which increases the spatial and temporal scales at which data can be collected and provides unique opportunities for learning about nature, science and human interactions with the environment.
- Implementation and management based on data collection and analysis. For example, volunteers might survey and map locations of invasive plants in an area. A management plan could then be developed based on these data; this plan would identify areas where management was needed, and what control methods should be used. Volunteers could then implement the plan by using control methods such as the physical removal of e targeted invasive plants.
BHI Stewardship Engagement Strategy
In 2011, the Beaver Hills Initiative (BHI) realized that stewardship practices within the region would benefit from enhanced coordination and partnership connections. As a result, the BHI and stakeholders in the region developed a Stewardship Engagement Strategy (see link below). One of the goals of the Strategy is increased possibilities for public engagement through a wide variety of people and groups active in the Beaver Hills (see STEWARDSHIP AND CITIZEN SCIENCE OPPORTUNITIES section, below).