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“Some Enchanted Evening, You May See a…” Citizen Scientist?

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What can a citizen scientist do for our wetlands?

Frogs and toads were probably not what Rogers and Hammerstein had in mind when they penned those words to the 1940’s Broadway hit “South Pacific.” However, those little croakers and their sweet night music is just what Stephanie Shepherd of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources may be thinking about when she holds workshops for volunteers to collect data on at risk species.

Because sufficiently trained staff is in short supply, the Iowa DNR has been recruiting volunteers to monitor vulnerable species. These citizen scientists’ must register and attend a Volunteer Wildlife Training Program workshop sponsored by the Iowa DNR. “This is where citizen scientists play a crucial role” said Shepherd, the program coordinator. Workshops are held each March and April.

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Using their ears more than their eyes, these night stalkers are trained to recognize the 16 different species of Iowa frogs and toads by their mating calls. Driving selected back roads at night, the observers stop at intervals to listen and record the different species heard.

Frogs and toads are not the only species monitored. Birds such as bald eagles, osprey, peregrine falcons and water birds that nest in large colonies such as herons and egrets are monitored as well. For more information email vwmp@dnr.iowa.gov, or go here.

Kudos’ to these volunteers and those who train them. Their hard work must be an “enchanted evening” indeed.

What do you think about this program? Does your state have anything similar? If so, would you participate? Leave your answers in the comments section.

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“Some Enchanted Evening, You May See a…” Citizen Scientist?