Citizen + Student Science Monitoring

citizenscience2Rural Action supports several citizen-driven wildlife monitoring projects for community members and students. These projects are opportunities for everyone to practice real science in Appalachian Ohio!

Citizen monitoring allows students and community members alike the chance to take active roles in assessing their natural environment. Discover what tree buds burst first and what winged creatures flit from flower to flower or migrate through our deciduous forests. By recording your observations, you will be collecting real data used by real scientists.

Data collected by citizen scientists allows us to observe local effects of climate change on local flora and fauna. Through these projects we hope to better research with and educate the community on our local environment and ways to thrive in a changing world. (Click here to read the Audubon Report on Climate Change and Bird Populations.) To get involved in a citizen monitoring project, contact us:

Sunday Creek Watershed Day Camp


Young Naturalists Club

Rural Action’s Environmental Education program is partnering with Southeastern Ohio families to create a Young Naturalists Club. This club is for children who are curious about the natural world and enjoy being active outdoors. Join us for a Great Backyard Bird Count on February 19th and a Vernal Pool Exploration hike on March 18th. Contact Sam Romeo for more information:

Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)

Each year, Rural Action’s Environmental Education team participates in the Audubon Society’s Great Backyard Bird Count. The event takes place over 4 days each February and helps to evaluate migrating and overwintering bird populations around the world. Check out a WOUB story about Rural Action’s GBBC event at Ohio University in 2015. Check out our event this year here!

Vernal Pool Monitoring at the Trimble Community Forest

With guidance from Rural Action’s environmental educators, students from Trimble Local Schools monitor vernal pools for amphibians, reptiles, insects and wetland plants each spring. The data is sent to the Ohio Vernal Pool Partnership, which maintains a statewide vernal pool database. The data that students collect helps the OVPP understand vernal pool fauna on a statewide level.

The two vernal pools that we monitor were built by Trimble High School students in 2010. In July 2012, along with entomologist Chris Kline, we observed and photographed the Great Blue Skimmer, a large dragonfly, perched above one of the student-made pools. This was another new insect for Athens County, never before recorded here.
Students from Trimble have also planted native plant species around the pools to increase the floral diversity. With help from an ODNR Wild School Sites grant, students planted iris, butterfly milkweed, yarrow, royal catchfly, great lobelia, and other important plants.

Butterfly Transect at the Trimble Community Forest

Rural Action monitors a butterfly transect in one of Ohio’s butterfly hotspots: the Trimble Township Community Forest. From March through October, we walk this transect every other week to observe and record every butterfly seen along the 1-mile transect. We have recorded up to 32 species in one day! This project is a collaboration with the Ohio Lepidopterists Society and the Appalachia Ohio Alliance. August of 2012, the monitoring team discovered a White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis) along the transect, recording this insect in Athens County for the first time!

Project BudBurst Monitoring

Project BudBurst helps scientists track plants’ response to climate change. You pick a species of plant or tree, observe it carefully, and record when its leaf or flower buds first burst open in the spring.

Fourth of July Butterfly Count

Join Rural Action for a Fourth of July Butterfly Count this summer with Chris Kline who is the insect specialist at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, OH. Data collected will be sent to the North American Butterfly Association. Date TBA.

Firefly Watch

Observing fireflies is a great summertime activity that can only be made better by helping out scientists during your leisure time! The Museum of Science in Boston has teamed up with Tufts University to study the geographic distribution of fireflies as well as human impacts on their populations.

Christmas Bird Count

Each year Rural Action participates in the nationwide Christmas Bird Count, sponsored by the Audubon Society. This project is a great opportunity to better your birding skills and contribute to an important science project while wandering the wintry landscapes of Southeast Ohio. This year Rural Action is partnering with the Athens Area Birders for an Athens County count on January 3rd, 2016. Contact Sam Romeo ( for information or to participate.