Source: NOAA

To celebrate Citizen Science Month, NOAA highlighted some of the dedicated participants who help support citizen science projects across the nation. The excerpt below celebrates two high school students who volunteer with the Hudson River Eels project.

One of the best aspects of citizen science is that, for many projects, you can participate at any age! Our next two volunteers are high school students in New York that contribute to the Hudson River Eels project. Through the project, hundreds of people come together each spring to monitor the annual migration of juvenile American eels as they move from the Atlantic Ocean into the Hudson River. Volunteers catch eels using specialty nets and carefully weigh them before releasing them upstream. Over 1 million eels have been measured since the project began in 2008. Check out some online resources including virtual classroom presentations and informational videos about the project. Eva Lagdamen and Benjamin Sankar discuss how they have been introduced to not only the academic world that surrounds marine life, but also the community they have become a part of.

Why do you participate in this project?

Eva: I took part in this study because I wanted to research just about anything that had to do with marine life for my science research project. I’ve always enjoyed the ocean, and through literature, I became aware of the various negative consequences that anthropogenic activity was having on marine life. I wanted to be a part of anything that helped with that investigation, and this project provided the ideal way for me to explore one of my passions.

Benjamin: I participate in the Hudson River Eel Project through my high school’s science research program. In choosing my area of interest as a sophomore last year, I decided that I did not want to be confined to a lab setting. The Hudson River Eel Project seemed like the perfect choice for me as I can easily and actively participate in a field setting within my community.

What has been the highlight of your work as a citizen scientist?

Eva: The highlight of my work as a citizen scientist is learning from other volunteers who participate in the Eel Project. Through this endeavor, I have met many wonderful individuals who all share my passion for aquatic life. 

Benjamin: The highlight of my work as a citizen scientist would definitely be catching 2,187 eels in one day! It was not only a record catch for the Furnace Brook site, but it was really great to add such an interesting data point to the data set. It also contributed to a more interesting results section for my poster presentation.

Has your participation affected you? How have you benefited from being involved?

Eva: My involvement has had a significant impact on me. I got to experience field work firsthand, which is something that typical high school students don’t get to do. I’ve benefited greatly from being a participant in this project since I get to learn while having fun. When the weather doesn’t cooperate on some days, you have to act quickly since things can occasionally go missing. When things go wrong during sampling, I’ve learned to adapt to a variety of situations.

Benjamin: My participation has led me to appreciate the value of the participation of the community in a project like this. The continuity of this project, as well as that of my personal project, would not be possible without the continuous participation of the community; I am thankful for their involvement.

To learn more about citizen science and the other projects highlighted this month, click here to read the full article on NOAA’s website.