Want to make a difference? How about getting outside and seeing some wildlife?

Citizen science is a way for interested people of all ages and educational backgrounds to contribute to science in their free time!

Here are some local opportunities:

(descriptions adapted from the different websites)


Pepperwood Vital Signs

Pepperwood Vital Signs citizen scientistContribute to growing citizen-science datasets on the distribution of the plants and animals of the Pepperwood Preserve; Contribute to the Bay Area BioAtlas, which seeks to build reserve-level species guides of where these plants and animals persist and where they are absent, as a baseline for monitoring changes related related to land use and climate change.

Description from http://calnat.ucanr.edu. More information available in title-link above and also here.


Otter Spotters


An OTTER SPOTTER is YOU, a citizen scientist who observes river otters in your  neighborhood stream, river, bay/county state or national park, and elsewhere and submits your information to this ecology project.  We’re using this data to assess ecology, range and status of river otters in the San Francisco Bay Area. OTTER SPOTTERS collect observational data (range, habitats, behavior, reproduction).  Photographs and video-recording are strongly encouraged.


Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods


Stewards provides opportunities for community members to participate in projects that collect scientific data with an identified purpose.

Citizen Science programs include:

  • Pinniped Monitoring
  • Seabird Monitoring
  • Marine Debris Monitoring
  • Water Quality Monitoring



Madrone Audubon Society


There are many ways you can help add to our understanding of native bird and other wildlife species and their needs in a changing world. Madrone participates in several long-term studies in addition to the Sonoma County Breeding Bird Atlas and the West Sonoma County Christmas Bird Count. These include the Shollenberger/Ellis Creek bird surveys, seabird monitoring, and the heron and egret project.

Opportunities also exist for participation in shorter duration counts, surveys, and monitoring.

Laguna de Santa Rosa Conservation Science Program

img_banner_donateWe believe that land stewards, public policy makers, and our own restoration and education managers all should be basing their actions and decisions on the best available scientific knowledge.  Our Conservation Science Program supplies that scientific, place based information by conduction scientific studies and disseminating the information through our Laguna Ecosystem Database.  The Program is supported by volunteer Citizen Scientists who help gather data that is necessary to assess the natural state of the ecosystem.  If you are interested in conservation science, we hope you will consider becoming a Citizen Scientist by signing up as a volunteer or making a donation to the program.

Beach Watch for Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association

Beach Watch is a long-term shoreline monitoring project that was founded in 1993. This year-round assessment program is conducted by dedicated volunteers who regularly survey an assigned beach within the Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries. Volunteers collect data on live and dead species of birds and marine mammals. They also report violations, detect oil pollution, and collect oil samples.

Information available in title-link above and also here


Bugs in our Backyard


Bugs In Our Backyard is an educational outreach and collaborative research program, providing project-based learning opportunities for K-12 students– or anyone! The core activity for BioB takes advantage of the bugs in your own backyard, schoolyard or neighborhood. Students can become citizen-scientists by surveying this diversity of insects and plants.


Project FeederWatch


Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. FeederWatchers periodically count the birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and send their counts to Project FeederWatch. FeederWatch data help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.



Project Squirrel


No matter where you live, city or suburb, from the Midwest to the East Coast, Canada to California, whether squirrels live in your neighborhood or not, you are encouraged to become a squirrel monitor.





Every observation can contribute to biodiversity science, from the rarest butterfly to the most common backyard weed. We share your findings with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to help scientists find and use your data. All you have to do is observe.