Through my internship at Encyclopedia of Life, I gained great insight into biodiversity documentation, project management, and real-life work experience. I learned a lot about citizen science through classes at Brandeis, but I had not had many opportunities to see the behind the scenes operations of a citizen science organization and learn how these organization use their platform to engage the public. Interning at EOL provided me with a great opportunity to see these things first hand and make an impact in the organization.
My favorite part about my internship was taking everything I learned in my environmental studies classes and working with a great group of people to increase environmental education and documenting the biodiversity living around us. Although just in the beginning stages, the Boston challenge that I am helping to plan will bring together people from all across the area and get people outside to observe the nature around them. Last year’s challenge was a success and I hope to continue that trend and see Boston as a front runner.
For students interested in interning at a citizen science organization like EOL, I would recommend really taking ownership of projects assigned to you and making the most out of the experience. One of the great things about working for a smaller office is that there is a large opportunity to work on projects that interest you, and it is easy to communicate with different members of the team. Whenever I had a question, other team members were really receptive and helpful. Also, even though I was intern, the work that I was doing had an impact on the organization and I know it will help their current efforts. Asking questions is one of the best ways to learn on a job and the people in the office where more than willing to provide advice.
I am most proud of working with a wonderful group of Boston area organizations invested in increasing biodiversity documentation and environmental education awareness. Working with these organizations allowed me to see all the different opportunities that are available in the citizen science field and what goes behind making these projects possible. It also helped increase my confidence when running meetings and learning how a small office setting works.
Even if I don’t go into the citizen science field, I will still take away an appreciation for the Earth’s biodiversity and EOL’s mission to capture as much of it as they can. I am appreciative to have had this opportunity and the real world experience it gave me.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been diving deep into planning for the City Nature Challenge for 2018. The CNC is a week long competition between cities across the nation to document the most biodiversity in their area. It is an exciting way to get the public outside and observing the local life around them. This year, the competition is expanding all over the world with participants in six continents in over 60 cities. I am confident the Boston area will be a top contender.
For the Encyclopedia of Life, we are focusing on creating educational materials to support high school educators and students during the challenge. The Learning and Education group at EOL has developed many resources throughout the years focused on getting students involved in citizen science and open science. My personal favorite is the species cards that can be used out in the field or in EOL created lesson plans. The hope of getting students involved is to spark interest in the environment and become inspired to change some of the issues facing us today. If students can feel a connection with nature then they will feel more likely to protect it.
Our goal for the CNC is to create a comprehensive source of materials including lessons plans, species cards, and tutorials that formal and informal educators can use to get their students outside making observations that contribute to science. With these materials, students will feel empowered to make meaningful observations and contribute to a larger database of species data. Scientists then can use this data in research and published papers, which I think is pretty cool.
One of my favorite moments so far from my internship was leading a group meeting with three other Boston area organizations. I have been communicating with this group throughout the summer and it was exciting to talk with them again. Our role as a committee in the CNC is to generate interest in the Boston area and get people excited to participate. We have to think about things like communication, fundraising, and outreach to other local organizations to make this year a success. It is fun working with them and learning about how a committee works.
Overall, I have been enjoying my time here at EOL and am looking forward to my last few weeks of the summer. National plans for the 2018 CNC are on their way and I am making sure the Boston area is prepared and ready to go. As for the education plans, I am excited to see how many students and educators we can reach to use our materials!
This summer I am very excited to intern at Encyclopedia of Life’s Learning and Education Department in Cambridge, Massachusetts. EOL encourages discovering biodiversity on Earth and their mission is to generate an encyclopedia of all the living species on Earth. One of the great things about EOL is that it is an open platform that can be used by anyone. I enjoy looking up my favorite plants and animals on the EOL website and finding out some pretty cool facts and figures. The Learning and Education Department utilizes a lot of this data to develop tools and applications that support educators, citizen scientists, and students when using EOL.
For my internship, I am working on the City Nature Challenge for the Boston area, which is an annual competition between cities across the nation and around the world to find the most biodiversity in their area. This is a great way to get people outside and engaged in science as well as increase data on the different species. Last year was the first year Boston was involved and we observed over 740 different species over a period of 5 days! I am looking forward to seeing Boston as a top runner in next year’s challenge.
Open science and citizen science, both large aspect of EOL, are great ways to engage the public in science projects through data collection, education, and advocacy. I am interested in it because it has so much potential to raise awareness and educate people about environmental issues facing us today such as climate change and loss of biodiversity. By participating in projects, people can get hands on experiences that relate to these issues and the data collected can be used for scientific research or even impact governmental policy.
My first day at my internship, I walked through Harvard Yard to get to the Museum of Comparative Zoology where EOL is located, and a huge turtle shell welcomed me into the building. Right away, I got into what I will be working on for the next couple of months and got familiar with EOL. Throughout the summer I will be reaching out to engage naturalists, educators, and environmental enthusiasts in EOL as well as map out the 2018 challenge for the Boston area. So far, I have contacted and met with a number of great organizations in the Boston area that work together to engage the public in science.
My goal for the summer is to develop and implement recruitment efforts for the 2018 challenge and help strategize ways to get EOL materials out on a national level. EOL’s goal is to have materials used by educators and students all throughout America during the city nature challenge as well as part of other community engagement efforts. Overall, I am very excited to see how the summer develops and what I am able to accomplish.