Fermilab seeks “Citizen Scientist” volunteers for prairie study

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BATAVIA, Illinois – Members of the public are invited to become “citizen scientists” and help ecologists track prairie restoration at the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory with the Prairie Quadrat Program. Participants in the program, which is free and begins this month, will learn how to identify prairie plants, map a prairie plot and help Fermilab ecology experts track restoration progress.

“This program gives citizens an opportunity to take ‘real science’ data while exploring the Fermilab prairie, walking through plants six to eight feet tall,” said Sue Sheehan, Fermilab’s Education Program Leader.

Participating citizen scientists spend about two hours collecting information in the prairie and then enter the data into a Web site scientists use to monitor the prairie’s condition. Participants can come once or multiple times during the summer to observe changes in the prairie; they can also continue to track the prairie for years to come. The volunteers will get to hike and explore parts of Fermilab’s preserve that are not normally open to the public.

This is the second year the Fermilab Education Office is offering this program. “We are looking forward to seeing returning as well as new volunteers this summer,” Sheehan said.

Most of this summer’s sessions are geared toward adults and children ages 14 and up. A special session for children entering the 4th grade and above will take place in July. There are a total of seven outings throughout the summer. All sessions are free of charge.

A complete schedule of sessions and registration information can be found athttp://ed.fnal.gov/programs/quadrat/.

Fermilab is a national laboratory funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy, operated by Fermi Research Alliance, LLC.