Citizen Science

Citizen Science

citizen science

Engage your inner scientist and get involved in a citizen science project today! Citizen science has become increasingly popular in recent years. Technology has given people the opportunity to share valuable data at a local, statewide, nationwide and even worldwide level. Citizen science engages people in learning scientific content and how it applies to their local environment. Collecting valuable data also provides opportunities to contribute to scientific research. Projects include observing wildlife, recording behavior, collecting biological samples, and observing environmental conditions, just to name a few. One does not have to have formal education on a specific scientific subject to participate, but passion and enthusiasm are strongly encouraged!

Are you interested in making your mark in the scientific community? Listed along the side are various projects in which you could become involved. One of the greatest aspects of being a part of the citizen scientist community is that you can contribute as much or as little as you like, either way you’ll be making a difference.


Lynnhaven River NOW Citizen Science Opportunities:


Diamond Back Terrapin Turtle Tracker: Help track Diamondback Terrapin turtles at Pleasure House Point. Due in large part to a loss of suitable nesting habitat, they are considered to be a “species of concern” in Virginia. Pleasure House Point is one of the few areas on the Lynnhaven River where the terrapins can still nest, making its continued care and enhancement even more significant.

We have created a Google map of Pleasure House Point where anyone can leave the location, date, time and details of a Diamondback Terrapin sighting. If you’re out walking at Pleasure House Point and see a Diamondback Terrapin,  a predated nest or eggs, add your sighting to the map here by:

Signing in to your Google account

Clicking on the red “Edit” button on the left hand side of the screen

Selecting the balloon shaped symbol from the upper left side

Placing it on the map at the approximate location of your sighting

For more information on Diamondback Terrapins click HERE

Water Quality Monitoring Program: Citizens help Lynnhaven River Now keep an eye on Virginia Beach waterways by becoming a Citizen Science Water Quality Monitors. In partnership with HRSD, Lynnhaven River Now works with volunteers collecting water samples at 18 different waterway sites in Virginia Beach. Water samples are delivered to HRSD for processing and the results are returned where it becomes available to the volunteers, Lynnhaven River Now and can be used by local community groups, schools and the Department of Environmental Quality.

Click HERE to view 2015-2017 water quality data collected by our Citizen Science Volunteers in the Lynnhaven River.
Water Quality Sample Sites 
Click HERE to see the 2018 data collected across Virginia Beach.

Email for more information on our water quality monitoring program in Virginia Beach.


Waterway Cleanups: Once a month volunteers participate in a Lynnhaven River NOW Waterway Cleanup. During the cleanups, each bag of trash is weighed, and the total amount is recorded on a map. This helps us determine if cleanup sites are improving or becoming more littered over time. The data also helps us determine the frequency of attention to established cleanup sites and determine future sites across the city of Virginia Beach.

If you are interested in volunteering as an individual or as a group for a waterway cleanup, visit our event calendar to see when and where the next cleanups will take place. Cleanups are usually family-friendly, and they may be water and/or land-based. You are highly encouraged to speak with staff for details about specific dates. Click HERE to see more details about Water Cleanups on our Stewardship & Access Committee page. Sign up or get more information by emailing or call our office (757)962-5398 to sign up.


Oyster Spat Collectors: Help Lynnhaven River NOW to catch baby oysters as we continue to restore oysters in the river.  This exciting program is fun, easy and it gives us the chance to capture valuable data about spat (or baby oyster) distribution throughout the Lynnhaven. You will need access to a pier in the Lynnhaven River system in order to participate. You can view the Spat Settlement Distribution Maps and learn more about this program by clicking HERE. This program begins early spring. E-mail if you are interested in becoming an Oyster Spat Collector!


Other Citizen Science Projects:  Balloons can entangle marine animals and are often mistaken for food. Help scientists better understand the sources and impacts of balloon litter, by reporting a single balloon or multiple balloons found in a single cleanup. This site also allows you to send in balloon litter photos. This study is supported by Clean Virginia Waterways and the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. Do you enjoy taking frequent nature walks and the thrill of a scavenger hunt? If so, then the nest watch project will most certainly fulfill your urge for a meticulous challenge. The main purpose of this project is to monitor the success and failure rates of the reproductive biology of birds. This includes the number of eggs laid, hatched, and how many of those hatchlings survived. However, before you begin monitoring your designated nest you must find it! Once you’ve located an active nest, you can begin the monitoring and data collection process; nest visitation required every 3-4 days.    Don’t have the time or desire to search for a bird nest in the wild but enjoy observing them from the comfort of your home? Then look no further, project feeder watch just may be for you. This is a winter long project that begins in November and ends in April. The main purpose of this particular venture is to observe the abundance of the winter birds and their movements. All that is required of observers is a bird bath, bird feeder, or plants that are known to attract birds. Observations can be taken at any location at the observer’s pace.  – Founded in 2007, Celebrate Urban Birds is a year-round project developed and launched by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Its primary purpose is to reach diverse urban audiences who do not already participate in science or scientific investigation. Another of Celebrate Urban Birds goals is to collect high-quality data from participants that will provide them with valuable knowledge of how different environments will influence the location of birds in urban areas (CBU, 2016). – From the Midwest to the East Coast, Canada to California, whether squirrels live in your neighborhood or not, you can become a squirrel monitor! Submit your squirrel observations from your school home or office. This project is great for all ages. Squirrels are active 365 days out of the year so monitoring them can help us better understand the ecology of our neighborhoods through a squirrel’s eyes.– Bumble Bee Watch is a collaborative effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees. This citizen science project allows for individuals to:

Upload photos of bumble bees to start a virtual bumble bee collection;
Identify the bumble bees in your photos and have your identifications verified by experts; Help researchers determine the status and conservation needs of bumble bees; Help locate rare or endangered populations of bumble bees; Learn about bumble bees, their ecology, and ongoing conservation efforts; and connect with other citizen scientists (BBW, 2017). – Learn more about phenology and animals through nature’s notebook! As our planet continues to change, it is important to connect people with nature. Nature’s notebook allows you to make that connection with nature as you record both plant and animal observations. As an observer, you’ll notice things you never saw before. The slightest blush on a maple leaf that foreshadows the coming fall. The new, more vibrant feathers warblers put on days before mating. The swelling of a Palo Verde bean pod as it grows. You can develop a more nuanced appreciation of our natural world when you participate in Nature’s Notebook (NN, 2017).

Interested in learning more about other citizen science projects or hoping to create your own project? Visit the links below:

What is Citizen Science?

Citizen science can tend to be a broad term, however, in short this phrase refers to the act of scientists and volunteers coming together and sharing their research to expand opportunities for data collection as well as providing access to scientific information for community members.  The ultimate goal of any scientific project is to draw conclusions about real world questions. Whether you’re pursuing a career in a scientific field or just enjoy being a part of an engaging learning environment during your free time, every contribution made to the various projects in process is greatly valued.