Category: Communication & promotion

How Cooloola Coastcare hatched Cooloola TurtleCare with a seed grant from the Australian Citizen Science Association

By Lindy Orwin, Cooloola Coastcare

Worldwide, marine turtles are at risk. But on the Cooloola Coast in the Gympie region of Queensland, where several endangered, vulnerable and threatened species (including the green, loggerhead, hawksbill and flatback turtles) live, there are some extra challenges. This is an area of dynamic sand movement and many 4WD tourist vehicles use the beach daily, especially during school holidays, because the beach is a gazetted ‘road’. Young hatchlings whose nests survive the king tides and storm surge of the crazy Queensland storms, have to run the gauntlet to survive.

The Cooloola Coast turtle breeding beaches urgently need monitoring and the community needs education about marine turtle behaviour if the turtles trying to nest in this area are to be successful. These beaches and those to the south are vitally important because sand temperature determines the gender of the hatchlings. Only beaches south of Bundeberg are cool enough to result in male turtles, to balance the feminisation of turtles north of this location.

In 2017, one nest was laid right next to the Lifesaver’s Tower on the main swimming beach. It was sadly lost during the first night to the ravages of a large high tide. Luckily for Cooloola turtles, a very experienced turtle carer with extensive experience around the world in turtle rescues, relocating turtle nests and tagging turtles, Joan Burnett, moved into our area. Now her work has been fast tracked thanks to an ACSA Seed Grant!

(Left) Joan Burnett, Turtle Citizen Scientist and (Right) Treasurer and Turtle Volunteer, Nancy Haire, prepare materials for turtle education events.

Cooloola Coastcare has been able to rally a merry band of volunteers together and start an education program for the community. In the last few weeks, members of the public have reported stranded and sick turtles and our team has been able to help out in the rescues and collect data about several turtles. With the help of the ACSA Seed Grant, the TurtleCare Program is well underway and plans are being ‘hatched’ for more Cooloola volunteers to be trained at the Mon Repos Turtle Research Centre in the 2019-20 turtle season. We’re changing the survival rate of marine turtles one turtle at a time. In July and August, we’ve been involved in rescuing a turtle from a crab pot, assisting a turtle found floating on the surface and collecting data about deceased turtles.

Turtle education will also be a feature of the upcoming National Science Week STEAMzone Festival in Gympie with Joan’s newest educational resource…a realistic model of a hatching turtle nest complete with the moonrise over the sea.

Our newest educational resource…a realistic model of a hatching turtle nest complete with the moonrise over the sea

While there are many tourist photos of marine turtles in the Cooloola Coast area taken by campers, kayakers, fishermen and divers, there is little scientific data about the numbers of marine turtles trying to lay their eggs on Rainbow Beach.  Data collected about turtles stranded and rescued by the Citizen Scientists is adding to the knowledge base.

A partnership has been established with the Sunshine Coast TurtleCarers for shared training and collaboration. Cooloola TurtleCare will promote broad and meaningful participation in citizen science by our TurtleCare volunteers, local residents and tourist visitors.

Dr Lindy Orwin, Coordinator, Cooloola Coastcare and turtle volunteer, Murray, look for any remaining eggs in a nest site exposed during Cyclone Oma

SA Science Excellence Awards – congratulations Philip!

A huge congratulations to our former Chair, Dr. Philip Roetman, who on Friday 9 August was awarded the “Unsung Hero of Science Communication” at the South Australian Science Excellence Awards.

Dr Roetman founded Discovery Circle, a major citizen science initiative based out of the University of South Australia, which delivered projects to understand certain animal species. He was one of the driving forces behind last years #CitSciOz18 Conference and continues to be an active and valuable member of our South Australian Chapter.

Watch 

Congratulations Philip on a well deserved award.

Seed Grants 2019 – Call for applications!

What’s in it for you?

  • $1000 to seed your professional development or your project’s growth.
  • Exposure for your project and/or organisation.
  • Motivation to initiate something you have always wanted to do.
  • Quick and easy application process (online application form).

ACSA is excited to announce our second round of Seed Grants.  As a way of giving back and investing in our members we are offering grants of $1000 each to two ACSA members to seed their professional growth or their project’s growth.

Last year, three ACSA members won ACSA Seed Grants:

  1. Jodi Salmond of Reef Check Australia – Life coaching to work more effectively with volunteers
  2. Geetha Ortac of Bellingen Riverwatch – Printing of training manuals
  3. Dr Lindy Orwin of Cooloola Turtlecare – Training of a certified carer

Could you be next?

To be eligible for Seed Grant funding, proposed activities must be in line with ACSA’s strategic goals of Participation and Practice. These goals are:

Participation – Encourage & promote broad and meaningful participation of society in citizen science so people become partners in creating science & increasing science literacy.

For example (but not limited to):

  • Activities that encourages participation in a citizen science project, could be a workshop, an event or a school outreach program or an app.
  • Development of a citizen science project that aims to meet these goals
  • Resources or training for citizen scientists participating in a project you run

Practice – Support the development of tools, methods, infrastructure, and resources to strengthen the practice, use and study of citizen science.

For example (but not limited to):

  • Attendance at a relevant course or event, such as a conference.  Can include registration, accommodation, flights etc.
  • Development of tools or infrastructure that aims to meet this goal.

Who can enter?

This grant is open to all current ACSA members. Not a member? Join us!

How to apply

Complete the Seed Grants Application Form before Friday 13 September, 2019 5pm AEDT.

Please note, applications should be kept short to reflect the value of the grants. A maximum character limit applies to each judging criteria.

Seed Grant Application Form

Judging criteria

Applications will be judged on the applicant’s response to the following:

  1. Short description of proposed activity (maximum 200 characters).
  2. Context or background to your proposed activity (maximum 1500 characters).
  3. Detailed description of how the Seed Grant will be spent (maximum 1000 characters).
  4. In what way does your proposal address ACSA’s strategic goals of Participation and Practice (maximum 1000 characters)?
  5. Describe the expected outcomes and benefits of your proposed activity (maximum 500 characters).
  6. Brief timeline for the delivery of your proposed activity (maximum 500 characters).

Key dates

Entries must be received by Friday 13 September, 2019 5pm AEDT.

The recipients of the Seed Grants will be announced at the ACSA Annual General meeting in [insert month], and on the ACSA website by [insert date], 2019.  Recipients will also be contacted by email or phone.

Terms and conditions

  • The grant is open to current ACSA members only.
  • The activity outlined application must be able to be completed within the year following the awarding of the Seed Grant.
  • The Seed Grants are two (2) grants of $1000 each.
  • Recipients will be asked to provide photos and a blog outlining how they intend to use the Seed Grants, for publication on the ACSA website. Additional information may be required for a year following the awarding of the Seed Grant.
  • Information provided by the recipients may be used by ACSA for promotional/publicity purposes. This may include, and is not restricted to, the information being used on websites, social media, printed material, press releases etc.
  • Personal information provided to ACSA can be used by ACSA, however such use will only be in connection with the Seed Grants.
  • The deliberations of the judging panel remain confidential. All recommendations and decisions taken are binding and final and no correspondence will be entered into on such matters.
  • The judges reserve the right not to award the grants if, in their view, the quality of entries is insufficiently meritorious.
  • No entries will be received or considered after the close of entries.
  • Failure to meet all conditions of entry will automatically disqualify an entry.

Apply now!

Engaging and Retaining those elusive volunteers…

By Jodi Salmond, Reef Check Australia

Volunteer engagement and retention have long been an issue for the not for profit sector.  Organisations reliant on unpaid workers have substantial investments in time, training, and financial input, as well as an ongoing mentoring/upskilling programs to ensure volunteers feel both valued and supported, in addition to having the right skills to conduct the tasks required of them.  Despite this, some volunteers still cancel last minute, or cease to show up at all- leaving organisers stretched, frustrated, and unable to meet funding milestones.

We all invest a lot in all our volunteers.  I believe that overall, we are great at supporting them; we train them, we guide them, we answer their questions, we thank them for, validate their efforts and make sure everyone feels comfortable in their sparkly new roles.  And yet the turnover rate is still high.  Personally (and professionally) I continue to be interested in how we can all find and recruit dedicated, accountable, reliable volunteers for the long game.

Following my successful application for an ACSA Seed Grant, I chose to look at several different life coaching programs and books to help me gain a better understanding as to how I might better manage my own thoughts, feelings and expectations around volunteerism, how to create accountability to ourselves and each other, how to ensure less burnout in an industry that is known for it, and how to create engaged, energised long term volunteers.

I signed up for several different courses, and admittedly, I didn’t complete them all.  Some required too much time, some just didn’t suit my learning style, and for some, the expectation of what needed to be achieved daily was not realistic for someone working (almost) full time.  I did however find a few programs that really stood out for me, giving me small pieces of gold that I have taken on board not only for myself, but that I have since passed along to my volunteers through different training programs over the past 9 months.  I have found these to be truly helpful for both myself and my volunteer engagement, and would recommend everyone give them a go! The biggest nuggets of gold I have learnt and want to share include:

  • According to recent research, a habit takes 66 days (not 21 as many people believe) to create.  This really pushes people to genuinely create habits.  The first 50 days were hard.  I personally found that I really enjoy the routine I have created for myself in getting ready for the day.
  • When required to do something that is not for yourself, it is easy to push it aside.  Volunteers have to feel ownership over a task to see it through.  Ensure this ownership is facilitated!
  • Do a personality profile on yourself, and learn to recognise the characteristics of your volunteers.  Understanding each other’s needs, learning, and communication styles etc INSTANTLY increases understanding for both parties, and creates an open space of compassion and empathy.
  • When the number of tasks is too high, or the size (perceived or real) of the task is too large, many peoples default is to feel overwhelmed and thus retreat.  It is vitally important to remember this one thing: ‘How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time’.  We need to change our default state to one of encompassing challenges rather than hiding from them.
  • The greatest thing we can do as leaders is to create more leaders; then let them fail forward.  Failure is key to success, so celebrate them!  Only through failing can you identify what doesn’t work.  If you are successful at everything you ever do, you are not pushing hard enough.
  • Self Care in paramount.  We all know this, yet it’s the first thing that disappears when time is at a premium.  Start your day focussed on YOU.  Take time to plan your day, meditate, journal and exercise.  THEN you can start the day feeling your absolute best because you spent time on you, your mindset and yourself.

I learnt a lot about myself during my search.  This has guided me on a path of continual self-development that I thoroughly believe has made me a better trainer, better leader and better overall human.  My volunteers seem active, engaged and eager to join in the wide array of activities we are a part of.  They understand there are boundaries to our relationship, and I no longer work all hours of every day, but purposely take time out to practice gratitude, to reset and re-energise.  I believe learning is the key to growth, and if we can all learn and grow together as an organisation, a team, a company, that we will all benefit and our volunteers will be around for a lot longer.

Queensland Citizen Science grant recipients

The Australian Citizen Science Association congratulates the 21 recipients of the first ever Queensland Science Citizen Science Grants. The Queensland Citizen Science Grants opened to applicants earlier this year and were available to Queensland-based projects actively engaging citizen scientists and addressing one or more of the Queensland Citizen Science Strategy Goals.

You can read the media release from the announcement and find out more about the Grant recipients here.

We look forward to hearing how these projects progress.

2019 Citizen Science Eureka Finalists

The Australian Citizen Science Association congratulations the three Finalists of the 2019 Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science. We look forward to seeing these worthy finalists on the red carpet at the Australian Museum during National Science Week for the presentation of awards at Australia’s “Science Oscars”.

The three finalists are:

Frog ID (Australian Museum)

FrogID is a national citizen science project aimed at understanding and conserving one of the most threatened groups of animals on the planet. Using a free smartphone app, participants record and submit information on calling frogs. In less than two years, FrogID has transformed the scientific community’s understanding of the distributions, breeding seasons and habitats of frogs.

WATCH

Virtual Reef Diver (Queensland University of Technology)

By harnessing the power of citizen scientists, Virtual Reef Diver seeks to dramatically increase the amount of environmental monitoring data for the Great Barrier Reef. Crowd-sourced images are uploaded, geo-located and analysed online, providing valuable scientific information that reef managers can use to make better decisions at a scale not previously achieved.

WATCH

Zika Mozzie Seeker (Metro South Health, Queensland Health) 

One of Australia’s first health-based citizen science projects, Zika Mozzie Seeker empowers communities to monitor urban mosquitoes in South East Queensland backyards. Using collection kits, members of the public collect mosquito eggs and submit them for DNA analyses, the shared data is increasing public confidence that Zika outbreaks are unlikely.

WATCH

Invitation to interview re “expertise” in citizen science projects

Researchers at the University of Waterloo, Canada, are looking for citizen scientists, and researchers running citizen science projects, to participate in a study concerning how “expertise” is defined and identified in citizen science projects.

This research is part of a bigger project called “Networked Expertise in Multidisciplinary STEM Collaboration,” that is being conducted by Dr. Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher at the University of Waterloo. The goal of this research is to better understand the implicit and explicit assessment of expertise that researchers use in multidisciplinary STEM collaborations. Understanding these mechanisms has significance to training initiatives at local and national levels.

Would you like to participate?

All you need to do is join in a 30-minute interview (via Skype / FaceTime etc.) with Dr. Mehlenbacher or a member of her research team. Individuals can sign-up to participate here. Participants will receive a $5 Amazon card for participating in the study!

This study has been reviewed and received ethics clearance through a University of Waterloo Research Ethics Committee.

Social Media training – Facebook & Twitter

As an exclusive opportunity for ACSA members only, social media guru Michelle Neil is going to be running a series of online social media training sessions to help you get the most out of your citizen science project social media accounts.

Facebook: Are you interested in making your Citizen Science Facebook page shine? Learn how to create a Facebook page, change your profile or cover photo, create a custom URL for your Facebook page, add a “Call to Action” button, use Facebook templates, hashtags, “@”, schedule posts, activate analytics and more!

Twitter: Want to know how to tweet about your citizen science project but don’t know how? Learn how to create a Twitter account, change your profile or cover photo, use #hashtags chat to people privately, activate analytics and more. Hone your Twitter skills in preparation for the worldwide Citizen Science Twitter Conference later this year!

Register your interest NOW for our exclusive members-only social media training sessions! We will contact you shortly with further details.

* Please note you must be a current financial member of ACSA to be eligible to participate in this training session. 

Mozzie Monitors and Urban Foresters with ACSA-SA

By Katie Irvine, ACSA-SA Chair

The South Australian Chapter hosted a community meeting with citizen science presentations at Glenunga Hub on Thursday evening 13th June.

Craig Williams from UniSA spoke about some citizen science projects that his group have started over the last year. These include Mozzie Monitors: A crowd-funded mosquito surveillance program throughout SA involving over 100 citizen scientists, and Activating Citizen Scientists: An initiative with SA Health’s Office for Ageing Well.

Philip Roetman from the City of Burnside gave the first public talk about his new Urban Foresters Project. This project is enabling local residents to learn about and help monitor the urban forest, with a variety of activities to cater for different interests.

Dr. Philip Roetman of the Burnside City Council talking about Urban Foresters

We also heard from Tahlia Perry about her recent trip to the Citizen Science Association conference in North Carolina U.S.A., where she presented on EchidnaCSI. Her interesting insights from the conference included the popularity of the iNaturalist platform and the growing field of environmental activism through citizen science.

Thank you to everyone who came along, an enthusiastic group of about 40 citizen science participants, practitioners and new comers. The next ACSA-SA meeting will be an informal catch-up at an Adelaide pub. We will send an invite via the ACSA-SA email list, please email acsasacommittee@gmail.com to register for this list. We hope to see you there.

ACSA-SA meeting: 6th June

The South Australian Chapter of the Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA-SA) invite you to join us for a citizen science meeting on Thursday 6th June at the Glenunga Hub, 6-7pm.

The meeting will include two project leaders who will talk about their SA-based citizen science projects and you will hear about the US citizen science conference that was held in March from one of our committee members who attended.

This event is open to practitioners and participants in SA citizen science or anyone who has an interest in this area of research.

Here at ACSA-SA we are aiming to bring the citizen science community in South Australia closer. We hope to see you at this meeting.

Speakers are Dr. Philip Roetman (Burnside City Council – Urban Foresters) and A/Prof. Craig Williams (University of South Australia – Mozzie Monitors and Activating Citizen Scientists). PhD Candidate from Adelaide University, Tahlia Perry will also speak about her experiences at the recent USA Citizen Science Conference.

Register here.