Listen, measure, track: Visit the new Citizen Science exhibit at the Eco Experience

St. Paul, Minn. — What is a Citizen Scientist? Citizen Scientists are volunteer data collectors. In collaboration with professional scientists, they observe and record information about the natural world like weather, wildlife, plants and so much more.

Why is Citizen Science so important? The demand for environmental data is growing and Citizen Scientists contribute to large-scale, long-term research by collecting much needed data on a variety of topics. They help communities, decision-makers and scientists better understand and respond to environmental conditions. In return, volunteers learn a lot, get involved in local conservation efforts, and have fun in the process! By volunteering, you’re helping others and yourself too! Studies also show that volunteering can lead to improvement in mental and physical health.

Did you know that in Minnesota there are dozens of programs that train and support thousands of Citizen Scientists? In fact, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency was one of the first states in the nation to have a citizen water monitoring program and it currently has more than 1,300 volunteers that measure the clarity of their favorite lake or stream throughout the summer. Stop by and learn about this program and many others from their knowledgeable staff and volunteers.

At this exhibit fair guests can practice being a Citizen Scientist by:

  • Learning three different frog and owl calls and putting their newly learned skills to the test.
  • Using a Secchi tube to measure water clarity and evaluate the health of a stream.
  • Learning the unique characteristics of Monarch butterflies and distinguishing them from look-alikes.

Fair guests will also have the opportunity to meet staff and volunteers from Citizen Science programs in Minnesota. On Tuesday, September 1 (2 p.m.), Shannon Martin and Laurie Sovell from the MPCA will unveil how citizen scientists are helping Minnesota’s waterways in their presentation, “Citizen Science: Minnesotans Monitoring Lakes and Streams” on the Sustainability Stage.

Also, on Friday, September 4 (2 p.m)., don’t miss “Using Monarch Citizen Science to Save Our State Butterfly” on the Sustainability Stage. Fair guests can learn how volunteer citizen scientists are helping to save Minnesota’s disappearing monarch population. Presented by University of Minnesota Monarch Lab.

A full schedule of the free presentations on the Sustainability Stage can be found at