Fermilab’s Prairie Quadrat Program Allows “Citizen Scientists” to Track Restoration Progress

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BATAVIA, Illinois – “Citizen scientists” can take part in ecology research at the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory beginning this month with the Prairie Quadrat Program, coordinated by the Fermilab Education Office. The Prairie Quadrat Program, which is free and open to the public, will teach participants how to map a prairie plot, identify prairie plants, and help Fermilab ecology experts track restoration progress.

“We are trying to restore the land back to its original condition before the pioneers,” said Mary Hawthorne of the Education Office. “This program will train ordinary citizens to help us.”

Participating “citizen scientists” may choose to document plants on their plot just once, or a few times per season; or they may “adopt” their plot and track its progress for years to come. Volunteers will enter their data into a website used by scientists to monitor the prairie’s condition. Quadrat participants will get to hike and explore parts of Fermilab’s preserve that are not normally open to the public.

“This is an excellent opportunity for people to share in Fermilab’s stewardship project,” said Fermilab Education Office Director Marge Bardeen.

Some of the free sessions will be geared toward groups of children and families, offering additional activities to keep children interested and occupied while parents “work their quad.”

There will be a total of 11 outings in May, June, July, and August. A complete schedule of outings and registration information can be found at http://www-ed.fnal.gov/data/life_sci/citizen/.

Fermilab is a national laboratory funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy, operated by Universities Research Association, Inc.