BioBlitz in the Pioneer Valley: Experiential Learning for Novice Naturalists

BioBlitz 2016 Spotlights Citizen Science and Biodiversity in Hampden County

Organized by Elms College, BioBlitz 2016 offers an important opportunity to engage in citizen science in Chicopee! Designed to identify and record as many species of living things as possible, the BioBlitz provides experiential learning opportunities for novice naturalists!

The local landscape is filled with so much life, to locate and identify it all would take the work of many – luckily, that’s exactly what a bioblitz is for! On Saturday, April 30th, Elms College hosts BioBlitz 2016 at Memorial State Park in Chicopee from 9am-3pm. Pairing the knowledge and expertise of scientists, naturalists, and college students with that of children, families, and community members, the event is equal parts citizen science, community service, and community collaboration, and offers unique experiential learning opportunities as a result.

Used in locations far and wide but originating here in Massachusetts, the BioBlitz is a community event used to identify and record any and all species of life found in a specific geographic area. The purpose of such events is to gather information about the populations that locations can support, and to assess the health of an outdoor space. An additional use for BioBlitzes is to educate, allowing citizen scientists to learn about the complex ecosystem in which they live.

Funded by the Massachusetts Geographic Alliance, BioBlitz 2016 will focus on identifying all living creatures: insects, birds, mammals, and even plants, and will, as a result, lead to the identification and categorization of hundreds upon hundreds of species of living things. Participants of any age can engage in powerful experiential place-based learning related to species diversity, interconnections in nature, animal tracks and sign, and seasonal changes by lending a hand at BioBlitz 2016. Participants with a preexisting interest in wildlife biology, entomology, ornithology, or even herpetology will be in their element at the event – but even folks who don’t think they know much about their surroundings can learn, explore, and contribute to studies of the local landscape.

Participants are asked to register online before the event, and should specify what their background is and the level at which they’d like to be involved so as to be utilized in the best way possible. Memorial State Park is located at 570 Burnett Road.

[Photo credits: (c) Sienna Wildfield]

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