Citizen Science: Small Step towards Understanding the Planet

Citizen Science: Small Step towards Understanding the Planet

Today’s blog post is brought to you by Jannatul Ferdous

As a young graduate student pursuing my master’s degree in environmental sciences at SIUE, my ideas for the potential careers I could pursue upon graduation are endless. I sometimes think I would thrive as an entrepreneur—I have a number of ideas that might work in the context of a startup and I thrive working in a fast-paced, dynamic environment. Other times, I see myself working at a non-profit organization helping underprivileged communities advocate for themselves and their rights for environmental justice. Despite the number of career options I have, the one thing that I know I will do throughout my career is advocate for healthy environments. As an environmental science graduate student, I want to do what I can to ensure a healthy, sustainable environment.

One thing that has helped me realize what I would like to do with my career has been the work I have done with the Y-CITYSCI program. This program has given me the opportunity to work with youth—something that I am new to. With this opportunity, I have seen the passion that students bring to science learning. They have so many creative ideas about the environment and environmental sciences. Their ideas are so unique that I would have never been able to think of them myself. My participation in Y-CITYSCI has also introduced me to citizen science and how citizen science can be incorporated into community-based environmental education programming.

Many environmental indicators suggest that humans must take actions to improve the health of our environment. Citizen science is a means of engaging everyone in authentic science. Through this engagement, people take ownership of science, making science a process that everyone can do and participate in. Not only does citizen science allow everyone to engage in science, the data collected through citizen science projects are also powerful tools we can use to understand and protect the health of the environments in which we live.

By helping students participate in authentic science through citizen science, students are able to see themselves as scientists, as well as people who help create knowledge and make changes to improve the world. Now that I know there are options in youth environmental education programming, I see myself incorporating environmental education and citizen science education into my future career plans.