Tree Spotters Citizen Science Program
With nearly 4,000 different kinds of plants represented in the Arboretum’s living collections, every day presents rich opportunities to see something new. If you enjoy learning about plants and their unique characteristics, you can contribute to science as a participant in our Tree Spotters program. This citizen science project opens a window into the Arboretum’s phenology: the timing of natural events, such as the leafing out and flowering of trees in the spring and changing foliage colors in the fall. Your observations will assist Arboretum scientists in their studies of the effects of a changing climate on plants. All levels of experience are welcome.
Program Information and Training Sessions
If you are interested in joining us, you can sign up for a training class this spring. (See schedule below.) Classes are free, but registration is requested. Check the Arboretum’s Monthly Calendar to sign up for an upcoming Tree Spotters training class (you only need to attend one session to participate in the program). Registered participants will receive an e-mail before the training with further information.
Tree Spotters 2018 Spring Training Schedule
- Sunday, February 25 from 1:00–3:30pm
- Sunday, March 11 from 10:30am – 1:00pm
- Sunday, March 25 from 1:00–3:30pm
- Saturday, April 14 from 1:00–3:30pm
NOTE: Classes will be held in the Hunnewell Building, but may include a brief outdoor walk, weather permitting, so please plan accordingly.
Once trained, Tree Spotters will participate in the program by visiting the Arboretum two or more times a month from March through November for a one to two hour tree-spotting session. You can do this on your own, with friends or family, or with other volunteers. You will enter your observations into your Nature’s Notebook Observation Deck (an online database created and supported by the US National Phenology Network) that allows you to see patterns across the season!
Responsibilities and Time Commitment
- Attend one 2½ hour training class;
- Visit the Arboretum two or more times a month from March through November for a one- to two-hour tree spotting session;
- Enter your observations into your Nature’s Notebook Observation Deck (an online database created and supported by the US National Phenology Network);
- Hone your skills by participating in additional workshops and educational sessions during the year;
- Provide feedback on the program by responding to occasional surveys.
Required Skills and Interests
- Ability to meet the responsibilities and time commitment above;
- Ability to work independently;
- Interest in learning more about the Arboretum’s trees, phenology, and climate change;
- Desire to observe nature closely and willingness to report observations accurately;
- Ability to walk outdoors for at least one hour (walking routes across the Arboretum will bring Tree Spotter volunteers past particular trees to observe from 11 different species).
Resources for trained Tree Spotters
Trained Tree Spotters can find our resource pages and events calendar using the sidebar to the left, or by visiting the Tree Spotters Resources page.