Susannah Lerman: Connecting Urban Dwellers with Nature Through Their Yards


When you look at your yard, you probably see some grass, a few flowers, maybe a bird or two.  Susannah Lerman, 2010 Fellow and 2011 Leadership Grant recipient, sees a huge opportunity for wildlife habitat with little or no investment. Lerman began her career wanting to work with species in remote areas, but she soon realized that cities offer the best opportunities for educating people about nature. Now she finds ways to increase citizen participation in increasing wildlife habitat and reconnect people with nature, particularly in urban areas.  She partners with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and heads their Neighborhood Nestwatch project in Springfield, MA, a citizen science project to study nesting populations of common backyard songbirds in the yards of 100 volunteer families across western Massachusetts.
Creating Urban Habitat for Birds with Switzer Fellow Susannah Lerman


Brett Thelen and Brad Timm: Measuring Effectiveness of Citizen Science on Amphibian Conservation with “Salamander Crossing Brigades”

2004 Fellow Brett Thelen, Science Director for Conservation at the Harris Center for Conservation Education, and 2008 Fellow Brad Timm, Post-doctoral Researcher at UMass Amherst, spend rainy spring nights on dark roads, working with citizen volunteers who are helping amphibians reach their increasingly threatened vernal pool habitat by preventing cars from running them over.  But how effective is this work in preserving the amphibians themselves? A Switzer Network Innovation Grant of $10,000 to Thelen and Timm seeks to answer this question, and the results could have implications for other citizen science projects.

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