Where does all the data that BEMP collects go? While most of it is used to inform understanding of the bosque ecosystem (it is in our name, after all!), some of it contributes to a larger, national database. Since October 2015, BEMP has used Nature’s Notebook, a program developed by the USA-National Phenology Network (USA-NPN), to learn about phenology. Phenology is the study of life cycle events of plants and animals in response to seasonal, climatic, or other environmental changes. This means that the cottonwoods’ golden yellow leaves in the fall, the sandhill cranes migrating, and so much more all involve phenology!
BEMP uses Nature’s Notebook on our study trips with schools from all over Albuquerque, our after-school program, and with the Rio Grande Phenology Trail (RGPT). BEMP collaborates with Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge to coordinate the RGPT, a network of sites from Santa Fe to Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge that uses Nature’s Notebook. Through this partnership, BEMP supports volunteers, students, and other community members for trainings, tours, education, presentations, and more.
On October 19, Liz Douglass-Gallagher, the RGPT coordinator, was honored to represent BEMP, Valle de Oro NWR, and the RGPT at the USA-NPN’s 10-year anniversary event in Tucson, AZ! In the morning, she visited the Tucson Botanical Gardens for introductions, brunch, and a tour of the Nature’s Notebook site at the Gardens. She met with other local phenology leaders—partners who lead volunteer groups in place-based Nature’s Notebook programs—from around the country to share stories, ask questions, and brainstorm ideas. While other programs also use Nature’s Notebook as an educational tool, many leaders shared how exciting, interesting, and unique the BEMP model of community science and education is. Liz shared, “It was such a joy to meet leaders from around the country, as well as the amazing staff of the National Coordinating Office who do so much to support BEMP and the RGPT.”
Later that day, Liz attended the symposium and reception for this event. During the symposium, there were reflections on how the USA-NPN was created, how it has grown, and how it will continue to develop in the future. Several speakers shared how they have used Nature’s Notebook data and the USA-NPN’s models in their research, particularly noting the strength of the program as “representing the gold standard of phenological monitoring” (Susan Mazer). Other speakers shared the key ways that the program helps to advance science, inform decisions, and communicate and connect the data to others—all things that fit the goals of BEMP and the RGPT!
It was amazing to hear examples of the different ways Nature’s Notebook is used from coast to coast—from wonderful education and outreach in Maine and New England through the Signs of the Seasons program to how the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians (in the area now known as Santa Barbara County) are utilizing Nature’s Notebook to help monitor and access traditional plants of the tribe. From the co-founders and executive director of USA-NPN to researchers and local phenology leaders, everyone expressed such gratitude for the work of observers who contribute data to this program. Shane Burgess, a dean, and vice-president at the University of Arizona, summed up the wonderful community studying phenology as the following: “We are standing on the the shoulders of giants… [driven by] curiosity and the ability to work together.” BEMP is so lucky to work with these curious, collaborative, innovative “giants”: students, volunteers, and community members who want to learn about, engage with, and love and protect the natural world.
If you want to learn more about this event, you can check out the USA-NPN’s recap and recording of the presentations here
. You can also learn more about the RGPT by clicking here
. To learn more about BEMP and to visit the website, click here