Conservation Education Through Citizen Science
Notable citizen science programs that have occurred at the OKC Zoo include monarch tagging, turtle trapping and releasing, and the Great Backyard Bird Count. What is citizen science and how does the zoo participate? Citizen science has been around for centuries. These programs are unique in that they offer opportunities for researchers to work with K-12 students, teachers and community members while furthering their own research. Everyday citizens collect data and make observations for scientists. It provides a unique hands-on method for people who enjoy the outdoors to learn about animals and conservation by participating in real scientific studies. Find out what the zoo is doing and feel free to join us.
- The Great Backyard Bird Count (http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc) happens each February. Enthusiasts of all ages count birds in their area to help generate a real-time map of bird locations across the continent.
- Turtle trapping/releasing occurs during the summer. Summer campers conduct population studies with Zoo Lake turtles.
- Each fall, students and the public are invited to help catch, ID tag, collect data and release monarch butterflies. Data is then shared with Monarch Watch (www.monarchwatch.org).
- If monarchs, turtles or birds aren’t your cup of tea you may want to check out FrogWatch USA (www.aza.org/become-a-frogwatch-volunteer) which is endorsed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
As a partnership between the public and professional scientists, citizen scientists are helping make up one of the world's largest research teams. Through its diversity of citizen science programs, the OKC Zoo is proud to provide educational opportunities that reflect current information about the natural world and its diversity.