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Citizen-science networks

ENGAGE PEOPLE

Citizen Science Program

The Citizen Science Program engages individuals, in many cases with no specific scientific training, in performing or managing research-related tasks such as observation, measurement or computation. The use of citizen-science networks often allows scientists to accomplish greater research objectives by promoting the public’s involvement. In 2008, the Conservation Trust launched its Citizen Science Program with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), and with the collaboration of local universities, including the University of Puerto Rico and the Inter American University.

The Conservation Trust’s ongoing Citizen Science Program has featured six scientific research projects that have been carried out with the help of volunteers in Hacienda La Esperanza Nature Reserve in Manatí, focusing on the study of land crabs, bats, birds, coastal processes, archaeology and botany. A first research cycle concluded in 2010, with approximately 5,375 participations and more than 2,125 volunteers. The data and results obtained during its initial research projects have been recorded in internal and external CTPR databases, such as the eBird program for the bird study. For instance, the archaeological project integrated objects from locations outside the Reserve, while data from the land crab project has provided valuable information for the Hacienda La Esperanza management plan and contributed significantly to understanding this species’ population in Puerto Rico. The botanical study helped to create a phenological database in the reserve, while the investigations on bats and the coast suggested new questions under current research. Because new research projects are currently underway or in planning stages, please check the Encounters with Nature calendar for ways to actively participate on the Citizen Science Program.

For more information, click here.

To participate, click here.

Map of Life

In 2010, the Conservation Trust launched an additional citizen science program called Map of Life, which integrates active participation of individuals in the collection of ecological data around Puerto Rico, with the purpose of compiling information that will be useful in designing land use plans and conservation strategies throughout the islands. The program focuses on a regional approach, with 5 management regions identified according to the main watersheds in Puerto Rico. Currently, the Conservation Trust offers biweekly opportunities in each region for citizens to actively participate in different field protocols that measure plant, bird, reptile and amphibian diversity, water quality in rivers and dynamic coastal processes.

For more information, click here.

Summer Immersion Camps

The Conservation Trust fully understands the value of exposing children and teens to significant experiences where they may explore their connection with nature. Through its Summer Immersion Camps, the Trust provides five-day nature immersion experiences that transform the lives of participants in protected areas such as Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve in Fajardo and Hacienda Buena Vista Natural Protected Area in Ponce. The summer camps enable youngsters to temporarily leave the comfort of their homes to submerge themselves in a journey of games and discovery throughout the different ecosystems in the Conservation Trust’s natural protected areas.

For more information on Summer Immersion Camps, click here.

Training the Trainers

Aware of the valuable role that educators play in transmitting valuable information to younger generations, the Conservation Trust strengthens its educational efforts by establishing important connections with teachers all around Puerto Rico, especially in communities surrounding its protected areas and reserves. Through its Amigos Program, the Conservation Trust provides special benefits to teachers and educators, who may request educational materials at any visitor center, completely free of charge. The Conservation Trust also provides free training workshops for teachers and community leaders that introduce participants to species and ecosystems in the islands of Puerto Rico, such as the Puerto Rican Parrot and the karst region, the West Indian Whistling-Duck and wetlands, as well as our coastal ecosystems, among many others.

For more information, click here.

School Tree Nurseries

As part of the “Árboles más árboles” Program, the Conservation Trust establishes native tree nurseries, also referred to as “Biocomisos”, in public schools all around Puerto Rico, in order to help empower youth in reforestation efforts and to instill a sense of responsibility toward nature.

Through this program, the Conservation Trust strengthens its bonds with its Escuelas Amigas network, mainly composed of schools located near its protected areas. To set up the school nursery, the Conservation Trust provides the school with all necessary materials and training. The nursery is then left entirely under the care and management of the teacher in charge and his/her students. In 2007, the Luis Muñoz Marín School in Barranquitas became the first to participate in this program. Its school nursery currently yields a total of 1,200 native trees per semester, including Algarrobo, Caimito, Capá Blanco, Guamá, Guanábana, Higüero, María and Úcar.

Biocomisos have also been established in the following schools: José N. Gándara School in Aibonito, Santiago Iglesias Pantín School in Ceiba, Pedro A. Colón in Juana Díaz, Augusto Cohen in Manatí and Albert Einstein in San Juan.

Encounters with Nature

The Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico believes that in order to protect our islands’ ecosystems, we must first help people understand why it is important to protect them. Active participation in activities that reinforce the values of conservation creates a lifetime connection between the individual and the natural environment. With this in mind, the Conservation Trust has developed educational programming and campaigns that focus on active and recurring citizen participation.

Our goal: Engaging at least 100,000 participants every year in nature immersion and active participation experiences.

The Conservation Trust’s Encounters with Nature Program focuses on strengthening people’s connection with nature, as a means of fostering a sense of responsibility toward our natural environment and engaging individuals in conservation efforts. Nature Encounters include interpretative walks through the Conservation Trust’s 

natural protected areas, open houses, special events, and other activities. During the past 20 years, the Conservation Trust has catered to more than 1 million visitors.

For more information or to participate, click here.

Birding with a Purpose

Birds are considered one of the best ecological indicators of a natural area’s state of health. Bird-watching is not only a popular pastime, but also serves as an important tool to estimate environmental conditions. As part of its Nature Encounters Program, the Conservation Trust regularly carries out bird observation walks throughout its natural protected areas under the Birding with a Purpose program, in close collaboration with Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology’s eBird program. During these interpretative walks, participants learn to identify birds by their distinctive physical appearance and sounds. By entering the observations they gathered during the walk into eBird’s electronic database, participants actively contribute to achieving a better understanding of our islands’ bird communities.

For more information, click here.

Workshops

The Conservation Trust regularly offers workshops that foster a better understanding of our natural environment, promote sustainable practices, and instill a sense of responsibility and connection towards nature. A wide range of workshops include some that are free of cost, such as planting workshops and teacher workshops that provide an introduction to different ecosystems in Puerto Rico.

Other workshops are provided as part of the Encounters with Nature program, including Organic Home Garden, Anti-Viral Plants, Organic Bread-Making, and Introduction to Preserves, among many others.

For more information on available workshops, click here.