James Gullison reflects on the important messages from CitSciOz18 – and how great it was to be in Adelaide!
- James Gullison from DuneWatch, Gold Coast
I was given the opportunity to attend and present at the 2018 Australian Citizen Science Association conference in Adelaide – an opportunity that I could not pass up on for two reasons:
The first was the chance to meet up with a group of people from all around Australia and different parts of the world to share ideas, experiences, knowledge, inspiration, a few good laughs and learn from one another. It was an opportunity to experience other people’s projects and where their passions lie.
The second reason was quite simple to me. I had never been to Adelaide and wanted to experience its indigenous culture, colonial history, art precincts, good food and wine, its amazing natural beauty and the weather.
I had an opportunity to explore some of the wonders of the Art Gallery of South Australia. Adelaide as a city is a real stand out for me with so much on offer and the heat!! Getting around was easy and I decided to head to Semaphore one evening as a mini field trip. I wanted to have an insight into how Adelaide suburbs initiate coastal management but also see the different coastal dune vegetation. I was not disappointed with what I saw, expanding dunes, busy beaches and the sunset is one I will not forget any time soon.
The first day of the conference was a great way to kick things off for the week, mainly because it meant I would have my presentation finished on day one. I will admit that public speaking is something that I still get nervous with. Considering my job role is community engagement, you would think that I would be used to it by now. Unfortunately, I still have the butterflies prior to talking and I’m not generally relaxed until halfway through.
In all honesty, I did not know what to expect, as this was the first time I had attended a conference like this. I prepared what I could for my presentation and hoped that the question time would be kind. This talk went well without any issues, although I found a speed talk goes rather quickly when you are trying to condense so much information into a reduced period.
I felt privileged to be able to present in a room full of people who share similar passions and are part of something bigger. Citizen science has been gaining momentum over the past few years and this conference showcased a variety of projects from all over the country and other parts of the world. We all share one common trait; we believe we are making a difference in the projects we are involved in.
One of the highlights for me at this conference was listening to the talk given by the keynote speaker, Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel, about how the birth of citizen science started in this country from the humble beginnings of German botanist Ferdinand Mueller. There was also a great message within this talk, which highlighted the importance of the work that we are all doing within our prospective project.
- Is it good citizen science that is consistent with the exacting standards of current science experimental processes?
- Is it a door to the world of science for the community and open for anyone to be involved?
- What makes it worth doing?
I was happy to go through our DuneWatch project and look at these three statements to see if we are on the right path. Looking at the approach of our project and how it has been well received on the Gold Coast I’m happy to say that we tick those boxes. And this approach can also be used for other projects that were showcased at the conference. Everyone who presented their projects need to be proud of their achievements to date. We truly are at the start a big push for citizen science in this country. What some of us do not realise is that we are the leaders for this citizen science movement within our communities.
The most rewarding aspect of this conference was coming home inspired by what I had seen and learnt over the course of a few days. I felt reinvigorated and recharged and it has been a starting platform for what is shaping as a great 2018.