By Dr Judy Friedlander, winner of a 2022 ACSA Seed Grant
The awarding of an ACSA Seed Grant to PlantingSeeds Projects in 2022 enabled the organisation to kick-start the National School Citizen Science B&B BioBlitz and generate interest and engagement in schools around Australia.
The BioBlitz attracted educational institutions from every Australian State and Territory and saw over 60 schools participating, with over 2,300 observations and 635 species recorded.
Most schools are located in urban areas, which makes them particularly valuable sites for scientific research. Many threatened plant and animal species live in urban areas, yet only 5% of citizen science projects in Australia are urban-based.
The National School Citizen Science B&B BioBitz involved students taking images of plant and animal species in their school grounds during September’s Biodiversity Month. Students also recorded information such as time, date and location of the photo. A designated teacher from each school uploaded the photos and data to the B&B BioBlitz project on iNaturalist, one of the world’s most popular biodiversity citizen science platforms and apps.
Students could log onto iNaturalist to see a project leaderboard, browse the observations submitted and learn about species’ taxonomy and distribution.
The ACSA Seed Grant was used to provide training to teachers and develop educational materials and resources.
Dr Judy Friedlander, Founder and CEO of PlantingSeeds, and also an Adjunct Fellow at the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney, has been invited to present a paper in a session for ACSA Seed Grant recipients at the upcoming 2023 Australian Citizen Science Association Conference in November on learnings and lessons from the National School Citizen Science BioBlitz. Her talk will discuss strategies for encouraging engagement in citizen science activities.
With the 2023 B&B BioBlitz now happening in September’s National Biodiversity Month, expectations are high that many more schools will become bioblitzers and that students will continue to learn about how citizen science can be a valuable tool in biodiversity research. With only 30 per cent of Australia’s species named, there is much the everyday student citizen can do to build up data and knowledge.
And the annual BioBlitz can be an excellent way for schools to monitor their own biodiversity and observe how plantings can help local animal species such as pollinators.
To join the 2023 B&B BioBlitz click here. followed by clicking on ‘Join the B&B BioBlitz Today’.
PlantingSeeds’ flagship project is the B&B Highway – Bed and Breakfasts for Birds, Bees and Biodiversity. The B&B Highway is a regenerative urban and regional series of corridors in B&Bs placed in schools and other community centres. With over 130 B&Bs in three States, the educational program has been developed in collaboration with the Department of Education and the CSIRO’s Atlas of Living Australia. The B&B Highway program is both educational and practical and incorporates citizen science learnings and actions. To learn more about the B&B Highway program, click here.