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Staying Connected to Nature

Become a Citizen Scientist

You are needed and its fun

Kids and parents can become “Citizen Scientists” - observing and recording Nature in their own neighborhoods and backyards.
Citizen science means regular people contributing data to science by observing and recording the natural world around you, in your backyard, your neighborhood and beyond. You can share what you find with scientists and conservation organizations who use the scientific data to make sound conservation and climate change decisions. 
It is fun, and easy, for anyone to use a portable electronic devise with a camera (phones, tablets, etc.) to record what, where and when you see things in nature. With free apps, like Nature's Notebook and iNaturalist (affiliate of California Academy of Science), you can share that information with the scientific community. Being a citizen scientist can remain an enjoyable part of your life when you are free to move further from home.
Monarch butterfly caterpillar on narrow leafed milkweed in photographers' native plant garden
“Citizen Science, A Tool for Promoting Diversity” written by Mary Ellen Hannibal, is a short story in our book that includes the following: 
“One of my favorite citizen science platforms is iNaturalist. You can download this free app on your phone. When you take a photo of a species with iNat, the app assigns the image a date, a time, a latitude, and a longitude. …..
iNaturalist has recently added an artificial intelligence component to the platform. Now you can ask the app to help identify a species, and it will make suggestions based on machine learning. It greatly adds to the fun and discovery involved in citizen science, since the app essentially helps train you to recognize species. Knowing the names of our fellow species is grounding and helps us stay more attuned with nature’s rhythms, helps us feel more at home in our changing world. 
Citizen science platforms like Nature’s Notebook are assembling a database of climate change impacts on plant life, which is ground zero for understanding the biotic response to climate change. These track phenology, or the timing of nature’s events, including migration, hibernation, and pollination. Pheno means “to show” in Greek, and this is what the citizen scientist documents: when flowers bloom, when leaves fall, when birds come, and when they go. With this information, we can make management decisions to support nature and help it adapt…”
We want you to have fun being a citizen scientist, and sharing what you find with the scientific community. And we sincerely hope you’ll enjoy discovering, recording and learning more about the natural world around you, wherever you may go.
You can take great pride in contributing to, and becoming part of a global effort expanding our knowledge of the natural world, and how climate change may be affecting our planet. 

Listen for Nature's Sounds

Even out your window

Take time to look out the window and see what is happening outdoors. Step outside or open your window and listen to the birds singing. 
It is spring, and now, with reduced traffic noise, can you hear more birds singing? Are any of their calls or songs new? 
Cedar Wax Wing feeding on Cotoneaster berries outside photographers' bedroom
Bird sounds identification 
You can find free apps for bird songs that help you identify the bird you’re hearing.
Here is one of many. 
Song Sleuth 2.0: Helping you become a better birder.
"Song Sleuth is a fun and easy way to learn birding by ear. Everywhere you go, Song Sleuth can listen to the birds singing around you, and instantly show you the most likely bird species that it heard. The app provides all the tools you need to determine which is the correct bird. Save and share your recordings, and learn about each bird with the built-in David Sibley Bird Reference”
General nature sounds:
For more sounds of nature found on our public lands visit sites like ParkTracks, and the sound library at Yellowstone National Park that include birds, bears, wolves and thunder.
Park Tracks
Tune into the national parks
The National Park Foundation and the National Park Service invite you to tune into PARKTRACKS, an innovative audio experience to help counter the hustle & bustle of city life, and tap into the trends of tranquility and mindfulness. PARKTRACKS will virtually transport you to national parks across the country with sounds captured by the National Park Service’s Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division.
Flowering Ocotillo in Joshua Tree National Park, California
Yellowstone National Park Sound Library
Welcome to the Yellowstone sound library, where you can immerse yourself in the aural landscape of America's first national park. The files available here were recorded in the park and are in the public domain. They may be downloaded and used without limitation; however, please credit the "National Park Service " where appropriate. 
The link below takes you to the beautiful haunting sound of the common loon.
Sounds of Parks Sound and Light Ecology Team
These recordings are intended to evoke positive emotions and memories associated with specific times and places in our past. When people become emotionally invested in a place, conservation efforts fall into place that much easier. Part of our mission is to record the natural sounds of the world for use in long-term monitoring research efforts. By gathering recordings of individual species and entire soundscapes as they currently exist across a landscape, we can track changes in their presence and composition over time, alerting scientists to potential management issues. 
Hawk soaring over head along the San Mateo Coast, California
National Parks Natural Sounds 
National Park Service scientists record and analyze sounds in national parks to inform and improve management of national parks across the country. The data is collected through recording systems installed by the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division in selected parks for about a month at a time. The systems record audio as mp3 files and sound pressure levels in decibels, and are designed to replicate the hearing experience of a person on the ground.  

Nature in All Forms Heals

When you can't get out

Bring nature into your home with books, artwork, TV programs and videos about the natural world. Experiencing nature in all forms, including images of nature, has been proven to reduce stress and help the healing process. Having nature in our lives, especially now, is something we know (on some level) that we all need. 
A field of research called Evidence Based Design documents the benefits of having nature in some form in our indoor environments. Bringing nature based art (scenic landscapes, abstracts and wildflowers) into public spaces, such as healthcare facilities, can reduce stress for everyone and positively effect a patient’s healing process. 
8' x 20' Hospital lobby divider with giant California Poppies by Rob Badger
By experiencing nature in some way we can all enjoy the benefits that come from regularly immersing our selves in the beauty and wonder found in the natural world. Every day can be our personal Earth Day.    
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