Citizen Science Projects

Below are all of the citizen science projects that we currently participate in. Citizen science is about connecting the public and our communities with scientists and research projects that are happening in our backyards. Several of these projects have volunteer opportunities while others only happen a few months of the year. Scroll through to see what types of projects you want to participate in and bring out your inner scientist! Very few of these require prior knowledge on the subject, but if you have any questions about a project, please email our Education and Outreach Associate, [email protected].

Image of bluebird - citizen science projects

Great Backyard Bird Count

2023 Feb. 17th-20th

Since 1998, The Great Backyard Bird Count has been collecting citizen science data on birds. This project has been a staple for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. The data they collect looks at the distribution and abundance of bird species, and the changes from year to year. TLC hosts hikes in February to collect data, but you can contribute at home, too. Visit the Great Backyard Bird Count website for more information.

eco explore logo - citizen science projects


This project was developed by The North Carolina Arboretum and is an incentive based program for children grades K-8. The goal of the project is to foster a fun learning environment while encouraging kids to explore the outdoors and participate in citizen science. We currently have two hotspot sites at the George and Julia Brumley Nature Preserve and our newly opened Bailey and Sarah Williamson Preserve!

logo - lake observations by citizen scientists and satellites - citizen science projects

Lake Observations by Citizen Scientists and Satellites

The LOCSS project hopes to better understand how the volume of water in lakes is changing over time through citizen science data. There are pond gauges at two of our preserves, the George and Julia Brumley Nature Preserve and the Bailey and Sarah Williamson Preserve! Find the gauge, text your reading to the phone number on the sign and, viola, you’re done! This can be done any time the trails are open and check out our VolunteerHub if you want to become a regular pond monitor!

logo - north carolina's candid critters - citizen science projects

Candid Critters

(Project on break until 2023) We have trail cameras out at several of our preserves collecting photos of wildlife! Candid Critters is a project through NC State University to collect useful wildlife data to help answer conservation and management questions proposed by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and other organizations. They use the eMammal database to store and verify their photos.

eastern box turtle - citizen science projects

HerpMapper-Eastern Box Turtles

Box turtles are under threat as urbanization eliminates turtle habitat. By participating in this project, you’ll help scientists and TLC better understand box turtles distributions and habitat relationships. If you see an Eastern Box Turtle at one of our preserves, snap a picture and record the data in our Google Form. This is a remote volunteer opportunity that takes place at any of our preserves. We will offer two virtual trainings a year, but follow these instructions to get started on your own.

caterpillar on a plant - citizen science projects

Caterpillars Count!

Caterpillars Count! is a project that measures seasonal variation and abundance of arthropods. The data will be used by Dr. Allen Hurlbert at UNC Chapel Hill to determine arthropod and bird responses to climate change. We host arthropod counts from May through July at Johnston Mill Nature Preserve. Check back for updates about scheduled events!

bird in a bird box - citizen science projects


You can help TLC document bird abundance and distribution. Whenever you hike at one of our preserves, document your bird sightings on eBird. For details, tutorials, and more, check out the Getting Started section of the eBird website.

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