Biologists are enlisting the help of “citizen scientists” to help conduct a massive nature survey

Four people walking in mountains with nets

If you’ve ever wanted to be a biologist for a day, now’s your chance. A massive nature survey known as BioBlitz 2017 will be taking place on June 10, and professionals are calling on volunteers to become “citizen scientists” for a day to help out.

The survey will be taking place in parks all across Canada. Its goal? To find and catalogue the wide variety of plants, animals, and fungi that call our country home. It’s basically an attempt to get a record of the incredible biodiversity that surrounds us. And while the blitz takes place every year, for Canada’s 150th anniversary, organizers are hoping to get more people involved than ever.

The event will take place in one- to three-hour sessions, which will be led by experts who will teach volunteers the basics of surveying and species identification. Each session will be focused on a particular taxonomic group—mushrooms, for example, or birds—and will involve recording the different numbers and types of organisms observed. The goal is to record all the species in a particular area.

The BioBlitz is a great opportunity for nature lovers to get out into parks and green spaces, but it’s also an important scientific endeavour. Past events have yielded some interesting discoveries. In 2015, volunteers found a type of mushroom in B.C. that had never been recorded there before. That same year, surveyors managed to locate some little brown bats, a species listed as endangered.

Glenda Clayton, a coordinator with the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, believes that getting regular people involved in the scientific process has huge benefits. “By having people join in as ‘citizen scientists’ that day, we’ll have more eyes to observe the different species in the park and a future database for research,” she told the Parry Sound North Star. “It should be a wonderful opportunity to learn about what lives in our own backyard and maybe get some rare sightings.”

If you want to find out about volunteer opportunities in your area, you can find event maps and calendars at bioblitzcanada.ca.