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Community Science#

Why Community Science?#

City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Community Scientists help answer research questions that benefit local natural areas.

There are two types of Community Science at Natural Areas:

  1. Self Guided
  2. Natural Areas Sponsored

Specific volunteer training is required for each type of Natural Areas sponsored community science activity. Applicants will be emailed training dates as they occur throughout the year are also posted here: 

  • The next Community Science trainings are yet to be scheduled.

Community Science vs. Citizen Science- What's in a Name?

The word citizen was originally included in the term citizen science to welcome amateur or retired scientists into data collection projects. Today, the word community is more welcoming and inclusive for our volunteers. 

Read the volunteer job description


Self-Guided Community Science#

Natural Areas promotes Self-Guided Community Science. No volunteer application required. Explore the opportunities below and get involved!

Your sightings contribute to hundreds of conservation decisions and peer-reviewed papers, thousands of student projects, and help inform bird research worldwide.


Every observation can contribute to biodiversity science, from the rarest butterfly to the most common backyard weed. We share your findings with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to help scientists find and use your data. All you have to do is observe.


Looking for a way to be virtually connected to the community, get outside AND make a difference? The Pick It Up FoCo Challenge is on! While you are out on a run, hunting for teddy bears, or walking your dog, consider picking up litter too. Find a spot to pick up litter right outside your front door. The best and most impactful place to start is in your neighborhood. Stop litter before it gets to the river! Use the Litterati app to help collect data about single-use plastics to inform decision-makers while the community discusses how to keep plastics out of the environment.

Pick It Up FoCo

Monarch populations across North America are in serious decline. To preserve and protect populations in western states, we need to better understand where monarchs and their milkweed host plants occur in the landscape. Your help is critical in collecting data to better inform conservation efforts in the Western U.S.

Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper

Amphibian Monitoring#

Amphibian Monitors are volunteers who, in pairs, are assigned survey sites along the Poudre River corridor to visit and record observations three times annually. These volunteers must have a dedication to learning frog vocalizations and be comfortable volunteering at night: shifts start half an hour after dark. 

Biodiversity Monitoring#

Everyone is invited to help gather information about wildlife in Fort Collins as a Community Science Biodiversity Project volunteer this spring and summer. It’s a great way to get outside and enjoy the city’s natural spaces as volunteers will be looking for birds, butterflies and bees. This important scientific data will increase understanding of “a connected open space network accessible to the entire community that provides a variety of experiences and functional habitat for people, plants and animals” as called for in the Nature in the City Strategic Plan. Free, no previous experience is necessary.

Training will be in May of 2023. Surveys will be done over the summer. Volunteers must be 18 or older (children can accompany adult volunteers), and must commit to the two hour training session and to completing six surveys. The Community Science Biodiversity Project is sponsored by City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department’s Nature in the City Program and Colorado State University’s Extension Office.

  • Bird Monitors conduct "point count" surveys for birds between 6:00-10:00 a.m. They will spend a five minutes listening and looking for birds from a list of 15 species.
  • Butterfly Monitors collect butterfly data using the "Pollard walk" method between 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. They will walk along a line and use butterfly nets to capture, identify, and release butterflies from a list of 10 species.

Camera Checkers#

  • Camera Checkers are volunteers who regularly hike Bobcat Ridge to service twelve remote wildlife cameras. New camera checkers will accompany experienced volunteers to learn the locations, logistics, and procedures.