Become a Museum Citizen Scientist

Museum researchers need your help! We offer a wide variety of citizen science projects developed by our staff that welcome your participation as a citizen scientist. Document dragonflies, identify monkey blood cell types, or classify galaxies by browsing the list of Museum-based projects on our Current Projects page.

NC Climate Change Challenge | Citizen Science Adventures

Hands holding the Earth on a dark background.

Welcome to the North Carolina Climate Change Challenge!

The NC Museum of Natural Sciences is embarking on a year-long climate change challenge and we want you to join us! Thanks to generous support from the Burroughs-Wellcome Climate Change and Human Health initiative, we are offering North Carolinians a series of quarterly, climate-focused science experiences. Each quarter, Challenge participants will:

  • CONTRIBUTE to authentic climate research by collecting data for a focal citizen science project.
  • LEARN about climate change and how it impacts the natural world and human health through lectures, public forums and events.
  • HAVE FUN getting out into the natural world.
  • EARN equipment and custom badges created especially for our participants as a thank you for your participation.
  • BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION by helping researchers learn more about climate change impacts on the natural world that lead to meaningful change.

Participation is open to anyone in North Carolina, and we will have both virtual and in-person opportunities for you to get training in the citizen science projects, meet leaders from each citizen science project, hear from researchers who do related work, and discover how climate change impacts human health.

Note: While this program welcomes people of all ages as participants in the citizen science projects and as attendees at the virtual lectures, our interest form and all trainings and lectures will be aimed at adults.

Ready to get started?

Complete our short NCCCC interest form and we will be in touch soon with more information!

Season 1: Phenology with Nature's Notebook

July 15–October 14, 2022

Phenology is the study of the timing of biological phenomena. In a tree, for example, scientists track the timing of leaf out, flowering, fruiting and leaf fall. The timing of these "phenophases" can tell us a lot about our climate. If we track many individuals of many species over many years, we can start to see how our climate is changing over time.

Nature’s Notebook aims to gather information on plant and animal phenology across the U.S. for use in decision-making on local, national and global scales that will protect our environment from the impacts of climate change. The project asks participants to collect data in a systematic way across the 1000+ species the project monitors so that they can compare observations across regions and form a comprehensive picture of climate change impacts nationwide. To participate in this project, you will make repeated observations of a species or multiple species and report the phenophases observed to Nature’s Notebook.

Season Schedule:

Nature’s Notebook Training

Virtual: August 4, 7–8pm and August 23, 11am–noon

In-person: August 13, 10–11:30am at Prairie Ridge Ecostation

Project Leader Lecture (Virtual)

Erin Posthumus, National Phenology Network, September 7, 7:00-8:00pm

Local Scientist Lecture (In-person)

Dr. Allen Hurlbert, UNC Chapel Hill, September 29, 7:00-8:00pm at Prairie Ridge Ecostation

Climate Change Forum:
Virtual: September 28, 7:00-8:00pm

In-person: October 1 10:00am-12:00pm at Prairie Ridge Ecostation

Human Health Connection (Virtual)

Date TBD

Season 2: Local Change with ISeeChange

October 15–January 5

Details coming soon!

Season 3: Precipitation with CoCoRaHS

January 5–April 1

Details coming soon!

Season 4: Biodiversity with the City Nature Challenge

April 1–June 5

Details coming soon!

Year-end Celebration

June, date TBD

Citizen Science Adventures

Citizen Science Adventures is a series of online videos and discussions intended to introduce you to a citizen science project and help you participate on your own from home. Visit the Prairie Ridge Facebook page on Mondays for a new video that teaches you how to participate, then try the project out for yourself. Return on Friday afternoon to discuss what you observed and learned and gets answers to your questions in our live discussion. Note that you are welcome to view the videos and participate in the projects at any point outside of the times posted below.

We currently have the following Adventures available:

Lost Ladybug Project


Monday, April 20, 2020 – Video Release

Join Chris Goforth to learn about ladybugs! The video covers how to collect and submit your data, how to find and photograph ladybugs, and how to identify the common species of North Carolina.

Friday, April 24, 2020, 2:30-3:30PM – Live Discussion

Bring your ladybug photos, stories, and questions about the project to our live chat! Leslie Allee of the Lost Ladybug Project will join Chris Goforth (Citizen Science) and Bonnie Eamick (Prairie Ridge) for a lively discussion about ladybugs and citizen science. Register to get the online meeting link.

Important Links



Monday, April 13, 2020 – Video Release

Join Melissa Dowland to learn about birding for science! The video walks you through how to make bird observations, identify the birds you see using the Merlin Bird ID app, and enter and submit your data to eBird.

Friday, April 24, 2020, 2:30-3:30PM – Live Discussion

Let’s talk birds! Join the Museum’s Melissa Dowland (Teacher Education), Brian O’Shea (Ornithology), and Chris Goforth (Citizen Science) to share your birding stories and get answers to all of your bird, eBird, and citizen science questions.

Important Links

  • eBird: Learn more on the project homepage
  • eBird Smartphone App: Submit your data from your phone with this free app, available for Apple and Android
  • Merlin Bird ID: This free smartphone app for Apple and Android is a great tool for identifying birds you see
  • Quick Guide to eBird: This guide will walk you through how to use the eBird smartphone app or website to submit your bird data
Project Squirrel

Project Squirrel

Monday, April 6, 2020 – Video Release

Join Chris Goforth to learn about how to document your neighborhood squirrels for Project Squirrel! The video covers how to collect and submit your data and how to tell Eastern Gray and Fox Squirrels apart. It also includes some cute squirrel footage!

Thursday, April 9, 2020, 2:30-3:30PM – Live Discussion

Bring your squirrel photos, squirrel stories, and questions about the project to the Prairie Ridge Facebook page! Chris will be available to respond immediately to comments, live chat style.

Important Links

Globe Observer Clouds

Globe Observer Clouds

Monday, March 30, 2020 – Video Release

Chris Goforth is back with a new project – and this one has you looking upward to report the clouds you see to NASA! Watch the video to discover how NASA uses the data to train their satellites, some tips for identifying the different types of clouds, and learn how to use the Globe Observer app to submit your Clouds data.

Friday, April 3, 2020, 3:00PM – Live Discussion

Online location will be announced on the Prairie Ridge Facebook page on Friday morning.

Important Links

Natures Notebook

Nature's Notebook

Monday, March 23, 2020 - Video Release

Join our Head of Citizen Science, Chris Goforth, to learn how to document signs of spring as a citizen scientist for Nature’s Notebook. She’ll share a video on the Museum’s Facebook page that will introduce the project, demonstrate how to collect data for a native tree species, and walk you through how to enter the data with the free Nature’s Notebook smartphone app. Come back here for valuable resources and links that will help make your first Nature’s Notebook observation a success!

Friday, March 27, 2020, 3:30PM – Nature’s Notebook Live Discussion

Online location will be announced on the Prairie Ridge Facebook page on Friday morning.

Important Links

Tree Identification Resources

  • Ask a Naturalist – Ask the staff at the Museum’s Naturalist Center for tree identification help
  • iNaturalist – This free app has built-in image reconigtion software to help you figure out our tree’s species
  • Plants by Field Guide – A free app that will identify your trees from a photo, available for Apple and Android.

Upcoming Adventures:

  • April 13: eBird
  • April 20: Lost Ladybug
  • April 27: e-Butterfly