Category: Engaging citizens

ACSA Seed Grant Winners

Congratulations to the recipients of ACSA’s Seed Grants for 2019! The Seed Grants were designed as a way of giving back and investing in our members, with two $1,000 grants available to ACSA members to seed their professional or project’s growth in line with ACSA’s strategic goals of Participation and Practice.

And the winners are:

  • Dr Erinn Fagan-Jeffries – Pupils for Parasitoid Wasps: The ‘Pupils for Parasitoid Wasps’ project involves school children running insect traps to collect parasitic wasps in their local environment, and being involved in naming and describing newly discovered species.

  • Jodie Valpied – Bachhus Marsh Platypus Alliance: The Seed Grant will help provide the necessary resources to the new Bacchus Marsh Platypus Alliance community group to begin a citizen science project on platypus habitat health, and to facilitate community engagement in this project.

Congratulations to Erinn, Jodie and your teams on winning this Grant, and we look forward to hearing how your projects progress.

Tell us more – updating your ACSA member profile

Two of the key findings from the Member Survey we conducted last year are:

  • people are seeking a community through ACSA, and
  • members are most interested in exchanging knowledge & experiences, and building a professional network.

To help facilitate these wishes, we’ve expanded the ‘My ACSA Profile’ section on our website and invite you to enter additional information about yourself and your citizen science experience / engagement. We hope that this will help foster that sense of community and enable you to learn more about other members interests and skill sets, which may help achieve that goal of building a professional network. This information will only visible to other ACSA members who are logged in to the membership portal. 

We are also working on a search function, which we hope, in time, will allow you to search for ACSA members who are based in Western Australia and who are interested in human health, for example. This sort of capability will be fantastic in terms of allowing you to connect with others in your field, or in terms of finding the right person to answer a question you may have.

We invite you to update your ACSA member profile now. Click on the link below, select My member profile > Profile > Edit.

 

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.

Earth Challenge 2020: Research Questions to Help Citizen Science Scale

A message from the Wilson Centre, USA:


Your knowledge + Small digital acts of science = Answers to the world’s most pressing challenges

April 22​nd​, 2020 marks the 50​th anniversary of Earth Day. In recognition of this milestone a consortium of partners is launching Earth Challenge 2020 (EC2020) as the world’s largest coordinated citizen science campaign to date. By working with existing citizen science projects and building capacity for new activities, EC2020 will foster the collecting and integration of one billion open, interoperable data points to strengthen links between science, the environment, and society. In addition to integrating existing citizen science data, Earth Challenge 2020 will also create a new mobile application and app framework, available in six UN languages, to help communities around the world participate in citizen science.

To make sure that Earth Challenge 2020 is relevant to everyday people’s lives, we launched a public call for questions and insights around​“critical topics in environmental and human health” in fall 2018. We collected hundreds of responses, with engagement from all seven continents. After analyzing common themes with our partners, we identified six high-level questions to become focal points for our work:

1. What is the extent of plastic pollution?
2. What’s in my drinking water?
3. What are the local impacts of climate change?
4. How are insect populations changing?
5. How does air quality vary locally?
6. Is my food supply sustainable?

We’ve mapped United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to each research question to highlight their intersectional nature, create links to an international policy framework, and further engage the global community. Now, we’re reaching out to a range of communities, including experts working in citizen science and complementary research areas, to understand where exactly Earth Challenge 2020 can provide the most value and to invite potential partners to join us on this endeavor.

Contribute Your Expertise

Join us in developing the research methods we’ll use to guide the Earth Challenge 2020 effort. We understand that partnering with the research community is critical for making sure that Earth Challenge 2020 data are useful, usable, and used. We’re enlisting citizen science practitioners, other scientists, educators, and others to decide what data and information will be most helpful to answer these questions using citizen science. We’re organizing six Research Teams—each focused around one of the research questions.

Research Teams will work with us and each other to:

  • Take a critical look at how the research questions align with the relevant SDGs.
  • Decide how the SDG indicator and target structure will influence data collection and integration in Earth Challenge 2020.
  • Identify what citizen science data already exists.
  • Ensure existing data can be documented in a harmonized way.
  • Determine what new data should be collected using the Earth Challenge 2020 mobile app.
  • Help identify and/or design protocols for data collection, validation, and integration.
  • Identify complementary data and information, including data from sensors (Earth observations and low cost/ open source).
  • Offer strategic advice on other aspects of the project, including the design of educational materials and a what-you-can-do toolkit.

We’re seeking individuals to serve as volunteer advisors to research teams who:

  • Are committed to helping collaborative citizen science scale.
  • Have an interest in one or more of the research questions.
  • Value and/or have expertise in data interoperability.
  • Value scientific rigor.
  • Value and/or have experience in engagement, education, and impact evaluation.
  • Are willing to share their knowledge with a broader community.
  • Can commit to monthly or bimonthly phone calls and periodic emails.

Join a Research Team

Some of you previously expressed interest in becoming a member of one of the Earth Challenge 2020 research teams. Others of you may be learning of this project for the first time. Either way, please ​email Sarah Newman, Research Team Coordinator, at ​sarah.newman@colostate.edu​ if you are interested in participating AND indicate which research team question(s) you are interested in​.

Earth Challenge 2020 is a collaboration between the Wilson Center, Earth Day Network, and U.S. Department of State and many more partners. Learn more at: ​http://earthchallenge2020.earthday.org/

Seed Grants available for ACSA Members – call for applications!

ACSA is excited to announce a new initiative.  As a way of giving back and investing in our members we’ve started the ACSA Seed Grants.

The Seed Grants are $500 each and will be awarded to three ACSA members to seed their professional growth or their project’s growth 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
  • Development of tools or infrastructure that aims to meet this goal.

Who can enter

This grant is open to all current ACSA members.

How to apply

You nominate yourself by preparing a single document (Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)) that contains the following:

  • Proposal summary – a brief description of what the Seed Grant would be spent on (200 words maximum).
  • Judging criteria – a brief description of how the proposal addresses the judging criteria (2 pages maximum)
  • CV of applicant (maximum 2 pages)

Judging criteria

  1.  Participation and Practice.

In what way does the proposal address ACSA’s strategic goals of Participation and Practice.

  1. Effectiveness

How effective is the proposed activity in addressing these goals.

  1. Benefits and outcomes

How beneficial will the proposed activity and its outcomes be to the applicant’s professional growth or the project’s growth.

Key dates

Entries must be received by Sunday September 30, 2018 5pm AEDT.

The recipients of the Seed Grants will be announced at the ACSA Annual General meeting in November, and on the ACSA website by November 30, 2018.  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 3 grants of $500 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.

ACSA-WA Meet + Greet

By Agi Gedeon, ACSA-WA Chair

The WA Chapter of the Australian Citizen Science Association was officially launched in February 2018 at the Australian Citizen Science Conference, #CitSciOz18.

We had our first ACSA-WA public event on Saturday 12th May and invited citizen science practitioners, volunteers, scientists and end-users to meet and mingle to learn about many active and successful projects. It was a perfect sunny day in King’s Park and there was a good number attending. A few new faces as well. We heard about a number of interesting projects including an astronomy project to be launched by ICRAR, also a bit about DolphinWatch and fungi walks and a PhD project on red-tailed black cockatoos, another on non-insect pollinators and Birdlife Australia.

Deborah Bowie, MicroBlitz Project Manager, speaking to an attentive audience at the first public meeting of the Western Australian chapter on the day after the re-launch of the MicroBlitz project.

We celebrated with Microblitz which, after several months of planning, had re-launched new MicroBlitz apps and website the day before. We heard that Professor Andy Whiteley, the MicroBlitz Project Director chatted with Nobel Laureate Barry Marshall broadcast in real time to a few hundred School of Isolated & Distance Education (SIDE) students who tuned in to a very special science lesson.

All in all it was a most successful get-together and lots of people stayed on to exchange business cards, stories and experiences which is always a good sign of some excellent networking going on.

You can follow ACSA-WA on our Facebook page.