Citizen science in Glacier National Park engages students from a wide range of backgrounds, in turn fostering science literacy and resource stewardship. Students are provided with in-depth information about species of concern, their habits, habitat and threats, thereby developing their own research questions using the scientific method to collect data in the field and observe wildlife. This program is a safety net for the park’s natural resources – especially in the backcountry where the park no longer has the staff to conduct baseline monitoring.
Classes are provided with large datasets from several years of citizen science data collection, which students can use to analyze and test their hypotheses for statistical validity. This handson introduction to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) may inspire students to pursue careers or make choices to support parks and conservation in the future.
Funding will support the 2016 program, supporting staffing, interns and equipment to facilitate monitoring of loons, mountain goats, pikas and invasive plants.