WOODSTOCK - On Saturday, July 20, nature enthusiasts of all
ages met and worked with professional naturalists at Marsh Billings
Rockefeller National Historical Park (MBR), in Woodstock, during
the first-ever Vermont Atlas of Life Field Day.
Vermont Atlas of Life is an ambitious project, launched this
past January by the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, that seeks to
use crowd-sourcing to build an interactive map of all plant and
animal species in the state. By making use of iNaturalist, a
popular online service that allows observers of nature to share and
collectively organize their sightings, the Vermont Atlas of Life
relies on data generated by "citizen scientists" - anyone, with or
without training, who joins the project online and contributes data
on animals and plants that they see around them.
"One of the most amazing things about the nature of Vermont is
how little we know," said Kent McFarland, senior conservation
biologist for the Vermont Center for Ecostudies. "The atlas will
generate excitement, discoveries, and greater understanding of
biodiversity across the state."
So far, the Atlas has contributed to special initiatives,
including invasive species occurrences and spring wildflower
blooming. There are nearly 14,000 observations already in the
The Center for Ecostudies hopes to mobilize a growing network of
citizen scientists by partnering with the National Park to host an
Atlas of Life Field Day. VCE naturalists led several walks through
MBR's woodland to demonstrate how anyone, from school children to
seasoned professional birders, can make research-quality
observations and record their findings in the iNaturalist database
- a process that can be done from any computer or smartphone after
downloading a free app and creating an iNaturalist account.
Citizen scientists make important contributions to the research
of professional scientists, and those who attended the Field Day
had an opportunity to do so by focusing their attention birds,
insects, and plants.
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park is located
off 54 Elm Street in Woodstock, Vt. For more info call