Here’s what’s on tap for Citizen Science Month at UF/IFAS

Youth take part in a bioblitz as citizen scientists. Photo courtesy UF/IFAS photography.

Scientists need help from residents, and that is what Citizen Science Month is all about.

This national observance, held nationally in April, highlights the importance of how consumers engage in science by partnering with scientists on a variety of projects that help monitor, count, identify and even make new discoveries.

At the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), faculty scientists, Extension agents and students have plenty of projects on their hands that need help from residents and businesses throughout the year. Citizen science projects can take many forms that include participating in community surveys, identifying wildflowers and wildlife through mobile apps, fishing out invasives from local waterways and much more. There are plenty of opportunities for youth and adults to select.

“We value the work of citizen scientists to help us develop better policies and recommendations that make your world and home a better place,” said Kimberly Moore, professor of sustainable horticulture and associate director the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center (FLREC). “We encourage citizens to engage and share their experiences with us through citizen science activities to develop better recommendations that improve the lives of residents.”

Not sure where to look for activities? Start with the local UF/IFAS Extension office in your county. Check out their website, call or drop in to see what’s on their calendar of events. Here is a short list of citizen science options.

Calling Florida homeowners and land managers statewide

A team at UF/IFAS FLREC seeks input from homeowners and land managers to help reduce water pollution and promote water conservation. Take the Landscape Water Use Survey to help scientists understand how the average citizen views water and water conservation in the landscape by reporting your irrigation habits in the landscape and how you learn about water conservation. Scientists will use this information to develop online training videos to continue to make improvements in water conservation messaging.

Need your eyes Charlotte County.

Volunteers with Eyes on Seagrass in Charlotte County are eager to collect data, and the information they gather is invaluable. A bonus? The data are valid. Their collection methods were developed in close collaboration with UF/IFAS scientists to ensure the data can be utilized in assessments by natural resource managers. Seagrasses provide many benefits. As examples, they act as a food source and a habitat for many commercially and recreationally important fish species. They also enhance water quality, stabilize shorelines and sequester carbon and nitrogen. Click here to learn more about Eyes on Seagrass. To register for the Southwest Florida Eyes on Seagrass program, contact Kate Rose at For the Panhandle program, contact Rick O’Connor at

If you love wildflowers, then this is the citizen science project for you. Learn all about them and how they benefit our environment. Photo courtesy Adobe stock.

Wild about wildflowers in St. Lucie County?


Calling all interested Master Gardener Volunteers, Master Naturalists and interested members of the public in St. Lucie County. Your agents at UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County need your help. Wildflowers are beneficial in many ways. Learn about these beauties at the “UF Extension Wildflower Bioblitz” on April 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. This event is hosted by Ken Gioeli, a UF/IFAS natural resources Extension agent in St. Lucie County.

During this bioblitz event, participants will use iNaturalist to catalog the wildflowers on site. Plan to venture out on unmarked, sometimes rough, trails and learn about native wildflowers on the UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County campus. Participants must install the iNaturalist app on personal mobile phones prior to meeting , to join the project “UF Extension Wildflower Bioblitz 2024.” UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County is at 8400 Picos Road, Fort Pierce. Registration is required at a cost of $5. For additional information, email .

Are you a boater?

You can help UF/IFAS keep Florida’s coastal waters clean with your input.

Florida Sea Grant wants to hear from boaters to gauge their understanding of boating activities and practices. More specifically, they want to know what and where additional sewage disposal resources are needed from boaters while traveling the waterways of the Sunshine State through an online survey. This survey, also available in Spanish, is for anyone who boats in Florida for recreation only, regardless of whether they own or rent a watercraft. The survey is part of a larger needs assessment that aims to determine the recreational boating community’s current level of knowledge, attitudes and behaviors regarding sewage waste management. Click here to learn more about this citizen science project. You can also contact Florida Sea Grant at (352) 562-1134 or by e-mail Victoria Gambale at

Like fishing? Help round up invasive fish.

Florida’s southwest waterways are home to numerous invasive freshwater fish species. They are growing in abundance. Scientists believe they may be causing detrimental changes to the native fish communities. Help reduce these nonnative invasive fish numbers at the 2024 Southwest Florida Invasive Fish Roundup, April 25-28, hosted by the Southwest Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas (CISMAs). This event is held to raise public awareness about the potential negative impacts of releasing invasive fish into Florida waters, and to encourage anglers to target these invasive species. The roundup will also gather data about invasive fish distribution and abundance that can assist with future management. Prizes will be awarded. For more information and to register, click on this link.

Help keep shorelines healthy and restoring those in need.

Shoreline monitoring and habitat restoration need the eyes and attention of citizen scientists. Vincent Encomio, Florida Sea Grant Extension agent for Martin and St. Lucie counties, leads a shoreline monitoring and habitat restoration project in southeast Florida. He is working with University of Central Florida on a Florida Sea Grant-funded project to collect shoreline data. The data is being used to develop computer models for planning living shoreline restoration projects.

The program has volunteer workdays for adults and youth. He typically works with youth through 4-H, summer camps, and schools. He also works on community-based shoreline restoration projects with adults and youth volunteers, ranging from oyster to shoreline vegetation plantings. Shoreline monitoring and restoration activities are occasional and typically project dependent. For more information, email

South Florida, join the City Nature Challenge.

The race is on to support biodiversity in a big way. Cities in ​Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties have partnered as the South Florida team in the City Nature Challenge (CNC). Don’t live in South Florida? Other municipalities have set up their own teams like Alachua and Polk Counties. Kicking off April 26 at 12:01 a.m. CNC runs through May 1 at 11:59 p.m. Now in its ninth year, the City Nature Challenge is a global event that calls on current and aspiring nature and science fans, people of all ages and education backgrounds, and community scientists to observe and submit pictures of wild plants, animals and fungi using the free mobile app iNaturalist. Looking to see if your county or city has set up a team? Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office to find out. Participation is easy.



By Lourdes Mederos,


The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.  |  @UF_IFAS


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Posted: April 4, 2024

Category: UF/IFAS
Tags: Boating, CISMAs, Citizen Science, Citizen Science Month, City Nature Challenge, Climate Change, Environment, Environmental Horticulture, Family, Florida Sea Grant, Fort Lauderdale Research And Education Center, Institute Of Food And Agricultural Sciences, Landscape Water Survey, News, SoFLo City Nature Challenge, Southwest Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas, Southwest Florida Invasive Fish Roundup, UF Extension Wildflower Bioblitz, UF IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research And Education Center, UF/IFAS Extension, UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County

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