Thursday, April 12, 2018

Science is a Team Sport

On Jan. 25, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center hosted an event at IslandWood called the Puget Sound Citizen Science Summit. It was a working conference for people involved in citizen science in the region to get together with the goals of:
  • Discussing how citizen science can best be integrated into and assist the work of practitioners, researchers, organizations and agencies, and 
  • Providing a venue to strengthen communication, collaboration, communities of practice and partnerships focused on advancing Puget Sound Recovery through citizen science

This event was spearheaded by our very own Citizen Science Coordinator Betsy Carlson and organized by a committee of individuals from multiple organizations. 

Betsy Carlson and Julia Parrish leading a group discussion. Photo by SymPoint Communications.
Dr. Joe Gaydos, science director of the SeaDoc Society, gave the keynote presentation and made the point that people are having a hard time knowing what to trust these days, but if citizens, and/or their friends and neighbors are involved in the research, they are more likely to trust the results.

Some of the important topics that were generated by the group in the morning and then discussed more in depth in the afternoon were: access to information, collaboration and connection, communication, volunteers, and funding.

Photo by SymPoint Communications

My Citizen Science AmeriCorps position at the PTMSC has been my introduction to citizen science, so this gathering was such a fantastic opportunity for me to get to learn from a passionate and dedicated group of people who have been working in this field for much longer than me. I have a relatively small role in the big picture of citizen science, so this was an opportunity for me to see what I am a part of and get a sense of the needs and goals of the citizen science community of this area moving forward.
Photo by SymPoint Communications
In her closing remarks, COASST Executive Director Julia Parrish, associate dean of the University of Washington College of the Environment, made some points about why citizen science is so important and necessary now more than ever. The first was that humans are moving away from understanding our connection with nature and citizen science can help people reconnect with nature. She also made the point that learning is what keeps us alive; it is what makes us human and citizen science taps into that. One of my favorite points that she made was that science is a team sport and that citizen science is an extension of that team. An article that Parrish co-wrote ends with a paragraph that elaborates on this team sport mentality stating:

“For biodiversity science, the era of ivory tower science is over. We need a paradigm shift, wherein scientists and nonscientists work collaboratively to contend with emergent, large-scale environmental issues. If biodiversity science does not engage nonscientists, as biodiversity and ecosystem services continue to erode, it runs the risk of becoming irrelevant in the eyes of a public that may offer local solutions to global problems.” (

The attendees of the Puget Sound Citizen Science Summit who represented projects and programs reported working with over 5500 citizen science volunteers. What a Team! I feel proud to be a part of that team and am excited to see the growth and impacts of it moving forward.

To read the full report from the summit, see []. 

Written by AmeriCorps Citizen Science Educator Lily Evanston.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much, Lily, for this report from the conference. It's so cool that PTMSC was the leader of this event. I love the perspectives of Joe Gaydos and Julia Parrish, and also your insights.


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