What you can do!
Hands on, in the field participation in conservation projects that will have impacts on coastal communities for years to come. This could be considered the best educational program possible for learners of any age. Citizen Science is a term used for projects or ongoing programs of scientific work in which individual volunteers or networks of volunteers, many of whom may have no specific scientific training, perform or manage research-related tasks such as observation, measurement, or computation. There are several ongoing conservation projects at the Conservancy that can utilize citizen scientists, and there are many more of these opportunities on the way!
Members of the BHI community have assisted the Conservancy’s research in many ways. One such method has been to place bird feeders in their back yard in order to keep a watchful eye on our painted bunting populations. Community members also venture into the forest to help collect information on the types of species found there. Students from UNC-Wilmington come to the island to help with larval oyster population monitoring, dune and erosion measurements, and with the monitoring of water levels in our underground aquifer. Teens enrolled in C Patrol this past summer assisted with sea turtle monitoring, collection of species data in the forest, and monitoring of our bird populations. Community members on Bald Head Island have been actively involved in conservation projects since the founding of the BHI Conservancy in 1983.
This long-standing community involvement adds a level of excitement to the opening of the Barrier Island Study Center. The study center not only provides a space for more in depth research, but will also attract new researchers and students to the island, allowing for even more opportunities for the community to participate in studies. Best of all, these new projects will allow volunteers to not only see the many natural wonders of our island first hand, but to witness the positive impact their efforts can have in protecting these wonders. Because of this personal experience that citizen science creates, the education department will assist the conservation department in developing citizen science opportunities. We will strive to involve volunteers, C Patrol, and Conservancy Camp in as many different conservation and research projects as possible. This will provide a two-fold benefit. We will receive assistance in the labor-intensive process of data collection. At the same time, participants will gain a personal experience with the environment, and will have a sense of ownership. They will know that they have contributed to the ongoing conservation efforts put in place to protect our island, along with coastal communities in general.
Want a chance to do your part? Be on the look out for new and continuing ways to participate as a citizen scientist with the BHI Conservancy! Sign up for new educational programs, or offer to become a citizen science volunteer. There is sure to be a wide variety of new opportunities developing at the Conservancy throughout the coming years!