Two ACSA chairs reflect on their experiences and the growth of ACSA over the past 10 years

Erin Roger

ACSA Chair (2016-2021)

ACSA turning 10 this year is something we should all be really proud of. The association is what it is today because of the tireless time and dedication of mostly volunteers (as well as some excellent paid staff) in addition to all the members (individuals and organisations) who have supported it. I remember being at the inception meeting in Brisbane on May 6th, 2014, and it was filled with committed people wanting to make ACSA a reality. From those early days, ACSA has grown into a well-regarded and established source of best practice information, collaboration, coordination, and advocacy for citizen science.

Being the chair of ACSA was a huge privilege. I had some outstanding opportunities during my tenure such as getting to travel to Nairobi to attend UNEP in 2017 as part of the global citizen science delegation. What I enjoyed most though was working with a team of diverse, intelligent and passionate individuals to lay the foundations of ACSA (our strategy, policies and governance) and take it from the inception and establishment phases into envisioning what a sustainable model for ACSA would look like in practice. Working with Dr Geoff Garrett (ACSA’s Patron 2018-2021) was a great opportunity as Geoff worked tirelessly to expand ACSA’s network and make valuable connections. During my time as chair, we accomplished so much including ACSA’s website, membership structure, working groups, and ACSA chapters. I was also lucky to be part of CitSciOz conferences in 2018, 2020 and 2021.  We also launched our ACSA consulting arm to generate new sources of revenue and take advantage of a growing number of organisations wanting to build best practice citizen science into their approaches.

It is so nice to sit back and watch ACSA thrive under the capable hands of chair Annie Lane who is taking ACSA to the next level. I can’t wait to see what happens over the next decade! Thank you to everyone who has helped make ACSA what it is today.

Paul Flemons, Amy Slocombe and Erin Roger still try and catch up as often as they can. The best part of ACSA is the ACSA family we’re all a part of!
Annie with Costa Georgiadis at the 2023 ACSA conference

Annie Lane

ACSA Chair (2021-present)

Turning ten years old marks a significant milestone worthy of celebration. Congratulations to all who have been involved in the journey. ACSA has evolved into a confident and respected organisation, a feat made possible by its strong foundations (strategic plan, policies and governance), as mentioned by Erin.

ACSA’s major challenge now is to elevate citizen science to the same level of recognition as any other scientific discipline, seamlessly integrating it into existing knowledge frameworks and research agendas. Advocating for citizen science at international, national, regional and local levels remains ACSA’s primary mission, and progress has been evident across all fronts. Much credit goes to the dedicated efforts of Libby Hepburn, whose tireless work has helped to position ACSA as a prominent figure on the global citizen science stage, securing a seat on the Citizen Science Global Partnerships (CSGP) board. The interim CSGP board played a pivotal role in ensuring the integration of citizen science into UNESCO’s Open Science Recommendation (Nov. 2021). Additionally, ACSA holds membership in the Australian Open Science Network.

ACSA continues to expand its reach, programs, and influence. Recent developments include the launch of the ACSA NSW Chapter and the imminent establishment of a chapter in Tasmania. Efforts are underway to broaden activities into new domains such as health, fostering active partnerships with various entities, including universities, natural resource management organizations, as well as state and federal governments, and non-governmental organizations. We ran a successful CitciOz conference in November 2023 on the Sunshine Coast and planning is well underway for CitSciOz 2025 to be held in Melbourne.

Participation in citizen science is experiencing exponential growth, largely due to remarkable technological advancements that have made participation accessible to a wider audience. Personally, I have learnt a lot about citizen science in the last few years. I derive immense satisfaction from participating in local citizen science projects and contributing to national and global projects. It’s encouraging to observe that the concept of citizen science requires less explanation now, with numerous success stories serving as testament to its efficacy.  

From my perspective, the future brims with promise for ACSA and citizen science. In facing global and national challenges, both science and active participation from individuals are essential in forging new knowledge and developing fair and equitable management solutions.

I extend heartfelt thanks to ACSA’s volunteer committee, our current Patron Dr Hugh Possingham, and ACSA members and staff for their unwavering support throughout the years. Bring on the teenage years!

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