A few weeks ago, I was elected as the European Union’s Citizen Science Ambassador for the United Kingdom. I will be one of 28 Ambassadors, from 27 EU nations, plus the UK, all working to find ways of engaging members of the public in science. It is a wonderful honour and an exciting opportunity. I will be working on behalf of the European Citizen Science Project.
What is a Citizen Science Ambassador?
The role of Citizen Science Ambassador is to encourage members of the public in the UK to volunteer and work alongside conservation professionals to gather data on the state of our local habitats. This can provide much more data on local rivers, insect populations and other wildlife data for bodies like the RSPB, wildlife trusts and academic researchers.
The key to successful citizen science is found where members of the public are trained by the professionals, so they know exactly what data is needed and how to get it. Being a small part in such an ambitious set of projects can be enormously satisfying.
Citizen science in Felixstowe
I founded the Felixstowe Citizen Science Group in April 2018. The aim of the group is to monitor the impact of Felixstowe’s Community Nature Reserve. To do that work, we produce new projects on a monthly basis. However, alongside that work for the Community Nature Reserve, Felixstowe’s citizen scientists have got involved in a broad range of other work, including astronomy, climate justice and map-making. It’s all been great fun and completely fascinating.
Almost from the start, I wanted Felixstowe’s citizen scientists to share our work with others. In doing so, we have made many new friends, and we have also learned how to improve what we do. In sharing our work with the European Citizen Science Association, my name became noticed by some very kind and encouraging people. So that is how I became elected as the EU’s Citizen Science Ambassador for the UK.
Throughout my time as our EU Citizen Science Ambassador, I hope to promote inclusiveness within as many aspects of citizen science as possible. There is a vast literature on the theme of inclusiveness, and I particularly like the Equity Compass, developed by the UCL Institute of Education. Although it is designed specifically for engaging young people in science, the principles can apply to anyone. I hope it helps you to promote inclusiveness within your own citizen science projects! If it does so, please let me know.
Promoting inclusiveness is a wonderful way to bring innovation into the realms of citizen science. I will be an enthusiastic campaigner for innovation within citizen science during my time as Ambassador for the UK. Recent examples of innovation which have impressed me include the use of R and Python coding languages within the realms of data analysis and data visualisation. I know that many young citizen scientists enjoy working with those coding languages. I intend to encourage their application within citizen science across the UK and EU.
The combination of inclusiveness and innovation will often help to create a set of richly rewarding and stimulating approaches to citizen science. I hope my time as the EU Citizen Science Ambassador for the UK will help to stimulate a sustained appreciation of citizen science in all its forms.
If you would like to contact me, please do so through the Felixstowe Citizen Science Group Facebook page. Alternatively, you may prefer to contact me through @CommunityNature on Twitter.
I look forward to hearing from you!
More on citizen science freom East Anglia Bylines
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