Friday, February 25, 2011

Project BudBurst Moves to NEON--An update from the Director

Generally, when we think of moving, the chaos and confusion of packing boxes, strapping tape, and moving vans come to mind. In my college days, bribing friends to help in the process usually involved my paying for the pizza.

Turns out the process of moving Project BudBurst from UCAR (its original home) to NEON was quite a bit different than any past moves I had been involved in. Even though no boxes, tape, or vans were involved, the move went without a hitch.

For starters, Project BudBurst is entirely Internet-based and after the web gurus at UCAR and NEON sent and tested files and code, the actual move of electronic files was rather anticlimactic. We are excited all the same, especially as we look forward to seeing the many aspects of the move that will benefit both NEON and Project BudBurst.

Project BudBurst will remain familiar to our many loyal and dedicated volunteers. The enhanced web site will mostly retain its distinctive look and feel, participation will still be open to all and the data will be freely available. We will continue to work with our ongoing partners, including those at the Chicago Botanic Garden, who will co-manage Project Budburst with NEON.

A peek behind the scenes reveals that the move does offer many benefits and opportunities to Project BudBurst, NEON and communities associated with both projects. The move to NEON offers stability and long term opportunities for PBB; as a somewhat recent start-up, PBB previously depended on grants and awards to keep it going. Given that the eventual success of Project BudBurst is long-term data collection, trying to survive on short-term grants was not sustainable.

Part of the work NEON’s education department has been undertaking as it ramps up to its programming is to study successful citizen science projects to learn what would be most useful to its stakeholders. Project BudBurst will serve as NEON’s prototype citizen science project and a testbed for future citizen science efforts conducted by NEON. NEON is able to learn from Project BudBurst while providing the program a long-term home. The proverbial match made in heaven!

Project BudBurst is comprised of a network of people across the United States who monitor plants as the seasons change. The project is designed to engage the public in the collection of important ecological data based on the timing of leafing, flowering, and fruiting of plants (plant phenophases). Project BudBurst participants make careful observations of these plant phenophases. The data are being collected in a consistent manner across the country so that scientists can use the data to learn more about the responsiveness of individual plant species to local changes in climate locally, regionally, and nationally. Project BudBurst began in 2007 in response to requests from people like you who wanted to make a meaningful contribution to understanding changes in our environment, and thousands of people from all 50 states have participated.

Participants in 2011 will notice some enhancements to the project’s data collection systems. We have spruced up our web site and added some new features that will be rolled out in the next few months. For example, our partners at UCLA’s Center for Embedded Network Sensors are creating a mobile phone application for the Android smart phones. This means that our volunteers can report their observations in the field. It will also allow for photos to be uploaded as part of the reporting process. We are developing new Field Journals to make collecting data easier. And, just for fun, we have added a weekly plant haiku. So when you have a chance, check out Project BudBurst in its new home at NEON.

And while moving Project BudBurst may not have required boxes and vans and bribing friends, several of us did celebrate this timely move with pizza. Some traditions are worth preserving!

Endnote: The Project BudBurst team would like to take this opportunity to our early supporters and funders who kept this project going in the pilot years. They include: US Bureau of Land Management; LM, US Fish and Wildlife Foundation; USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station; US Fish and Wildlife Service; US Geological Survey, NASA, and the National Geographic Education Foundation.

1 comment:

  1. Very well written post ! It is great to know tat budbrust project has moved to neon. I wish that you people will work great in collaboration with NEON. Wish you best of luck !!