KEY LARGO, FLA. – REEF is proud to introduce Citizen Science Saturday, a new monthly program created to engage Florida Keys residents and visitors in diverse hands-on citizen science projects while providing a way for the public to connect with nature. Each Citizen Science Saturday event will begin with a presentation from a guest speaker at REEF’s Interpretive Center. Following the presentation, participants can join a hands-on field experience to collect data as citizen scientists.
The goals of Citizen Science Saturday are to increase environmental awareness and stewardship, protect and study fragile Florida Keys habitats, and foster a sense of community. Each month, REEF will collaborate with a different non-profit organization, recreational outfitter, or government agency to offer a wide variety of citizen science projects, either in the water and on land. By working with a new partner each month, REEF will give community members the chance to learn about and assist a variety of organizations in collecting information to assess the health of marine and land habitats of the Keys.
In February, REEF partnered with Florida Public Archaeology Network to offer the first Citizen Science Saturday program, a Submerged Heritage Monitoring Scouts workshop and dive. The program’s 40 attendees learned how to monitor at-risk archaeological sites during a two-hour training session. 28 participants then joined a dive trip to photograph and document changes at a nearby artificial reef site. The next Citizen Science Saturday is a training to identify stony coral tissue loss disease, followed by a dive trip to conduct coral surveys. The program will be held on May 4, and is organized in partnership with the University of Florida IFAS Extension and Florida Sea Grant.
Upcoming program topics include seagrass monitoring, fish identification surveys, and bird watching.Citizen Science Saturday classroom lessons are free to attend, but registration is requested. The hands-on water and land-based components of the program have varying costs associated with participation. The programs are open to any interested Florida Keys residents and visitors.
Organizations interested in partnering with REEF to conduct a Citizen Science Saturday program should contact Brittany Parker, REEF Education and Operations Program Manager. For information about Citizen Science Saturday and other upcoming events at REEF, visit www.REEF.org/events.