Volunteer Monitoring Work

Spring is here, and the prairies are coming back to life. This is exciting for many reasons, including the start of field season! We’ve been continuing to expand our monitoring work to incorporate our volunteer base. 

Jessika Blackport and Jessa Patton facilitating wild seed collection training.

(Photo credit: Meredith Rafferty)

We held a variety of trainings this quarter to prepare for monitoring work, including Mazama pocket gopher monitoring, western bluebird monitoring, and wild prairie plant seed collection. All kinds of volunteers – from the brand new to the more experienced, young and old, from citizen scientists to students to those with established environmental careers – came together to explore the lands we work on and learn more about prairie ecosystems.

Volunteers learning how to identify pocket gopher mounds.

Volunteers who came to our Mazama pocket gopher and Western Bluebird monitoring trainings learned more about these species, their habitat preferences, how to identify these species and their habitats (mounds and nesting boxes, respectively), and how to work with CNLM staff biologists to quantify their abundances and locations on the prairies. 

Bill Kronland teaching volunteers how to use a Trimble, which is a GPS device used to record locations of pocket gopher mounds.

Our wild seed collection season also recently kicked off with an initial training session focusing on native prairie plant identification, seed collection techniques, how to scout and locate plant populations, and how wild seed collection is incorporated into our plant propagation programs.

Volunteers learning how to identify native prairie plants.

(Photo credit: Meredith Rafferty)

We’re looking forward to a fruitful field season, and appreciate all the hard work our volunteers put in!