Become a community scientist

by Ellie Rogers

Scientists sometimes turn to the public to collect data on flora and fauna. If you’re heading outside, why not take note of the wildlife and blooms you see? Here are a few of our favorite projects that call for community scientist observations. You don't have to be an expert; most of these projects provide training and identification support.

Monarch larva monitoring

For over 20 years, the locally based Monarch Joint Venture program has worked with volunteers to monitor milkweed plants for monarch larva in both natural areas and gardens. Community scientist data has helped researchers gain insights on monarch breeding and conservation. That's important because monarchs are facing loss of habitat and other major threats.

Each year, we contribute data from our restoration areas too.

Get trained to monitor milkweed and monarch larva  >>

Flora and fauna through the seasons

The Minnesota Phenology Network tracks animals and plants through the seasons. Scientists use the data bank of observations to better understand how climate change impacts certain species.

Make observations in Nature's Notebook  >>

Coyotes and foxes in the metro area

The Twin Cities Coyote and Fox Project wants to know how wild canines are adapting to urban areas. But it’s difficult to locate foxes and coyotes when you’re starting from scratch and your search area is the entire seven county metro. That’s where you come in!

Share sightings or signs of coyotes and foxes  >>

Invasive species tracker

Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System documents invasive species distribution so land managers, biologists, government agencies and others can work to control their spread.

Report invasive species  >>

Bees and other pollinators

Pollinators are vital to our ecosystems. To learn more about their population sizes and behaviors, the U of M and other organizations want to know what kinds you're seeing where.

Note a bee or other pollinator  >>


Did you know dragonflies migrate too? Similar to Monarch Joint Venture, the Migratory Dragonfly Project hopes to collect sightings and timings to better conserve migrating populations.

Identify and add your sightings  >>

And more!

You can find plenty more projects at Are we missing any important Minnesota opportunities? Let us know! Tag @friendsmissriv on social media or email

And if you want to know about the research students and volunteers contribute to at FMR, check out our studies and findings about wildlife returning, invasive removal methods and more.