Citizen Science

Across Chicagoland and around the globe, scientists are making careful observations of the natural world. These observations teach them about migration patterns and diversity in our ecosystems. When compared to historical data they help to paint a picture of what effects habitat changes and climate change are causing. However, there is a lot of ground to cover when it comes to researching the natural world.


Researchers are not the only ones who make careful observations about our environment. Whether you realize it or not, you likely make many observations about the world around you. Maybe you watch the birds coming and going with the seasons or take notice of the wildflowers coming up in the spring, these seemingly simple observations provide invaluable information for researchers. Citizen science programs provide a great opportunity for people to use their everyday observations to contribute to scientific research.

Citizen Opportunities

We have many opportunities to participate in citizen science programs at Lake Katherine. From observing the changes that seasons bring to identifying the wildlife you see, everyone has an opportunity to contribute. Read more below or stop by the nature center to learn how to get involved!

Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanic Garden Atlas of Life

Hosted at iNaturalist, our Atlas of Life project's purpose is to document the flora and fauna found within our site. The data collected allow us to gauge the success of our continued restoration efforts and will guide us in future restoration. Just as importantly, it is an opportunity for visitors to share observations with each other and to learn about wildlife in the area. The site even has tools to help you identify species you are not familiar with. Learn more about our project and how you can contribute.

Project FeederWatch

During the winter months, from November through early April, Lake Katherine participates in Project FeederWatch. By providing information about the birds we see at our feeders, scientists can learn more about bird populations and their winter ranges. You can try out what it's like to participate by observing our feeders and then decide if you want to become a participant at home. Learn more about the FeederWatch program.

Project BudBurst

Project BudBurst is a citizen science project focused on documenting when seasonal changes happen to different plants -known as the study of phenology. From spring to fall, this can include plants leafing out, blossoming, producing fruit, leaves changing color or being discarded for the winter. In early 2013, Lake Katherine became a Garden Partner with Project BudBurst. With our diverse collection of plants, we are a perfect place to watch plants change through the seasons.

Illinois Odonate Survey

Lake Katherine participates in the Illinois Odonate Survey, which collects information about dragonflies and damselflies across Illinois. Each spring, beginner classes are offered to teach you how to identify different species. After training, you can pick a site you would like to study. Each time you visit the site, you record what species you see and how many. Together, data from across the state is combined to give us valuable information about dragonfly and damselfly populations in Illinois. Learn more about the Odonate program.