We hope that you all continue to be well and that you are finding chances to get outside to enjoy nature's spectacle this spring. We know that quite a few of you are prevented from accessing your Local Phenology Program observation sites and we understand your frustration! We are inspired by many Local Phenology Leaders and observers who are finding creative new ways to continue tracking phenology by setting up sites at their homes to observe the species that they can't access.

If you aren't able to get outside to observe, we have ideas below for online activities to keep up your phenology observation skills. You can also check out our new Nature's Notebook Community Forum to glean ideas of how to connect with your volunteers remotely, create a 2019 phenology report, add new signage to your sites, and break the ice with fun activities at an online training!
What's new at Nature's Notebook and USA-NPN
Nature's Notebook mobile app course
Our Observer Certification Course provides instructions to help you get started using Nature's Notebook , or provide a refresher if you need one! We've just released the second module which provides step-by-step instructions on how to use the Nature's Notebook mobile app. You will learn how to use the app to set up your account, create sites, add plants and animals, and enter and review observations. Please note that you will need to be logged into your Nature's Notebook account to take the course.

Phenology Trail Dashboards
Phenology Trails are collaborations of partners working toward a shared goal to better understand phenology of focal species. To learn about one of these, the Rio Grande Phenology Trail, check out this great video created by Nature's Notebook observer Crockett Howard.

Our new Phenology Trail Dashboards provide real-time results of the Trail's phenology data via a number of different visualizations including phenology calendars, curves showing peak in activity, and metrics of observer activity. The Dashboards allow comparisons of plant and animal activity across partner locations. We currently have two Trail Dashboards available for our US Fish and Wildlife Service Phenology Trails:

Pesky Plant Trackers campaign
Pesky Plant Trackers is a new campaign tracking phenology of invasive wild parsnip and Japanese knotweed in the Midwest and Northeast regions. The data will be used by researcher Rebecca Montgomery of University of Minnesota to help predict activity of these species and improve treatment.

Recent happenings in the field of phenology
Phenology helps control invasive species
In order to better target the timing of control of invasive Vebesina enceliodes , a team of staff and volunteers at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge began collecting phenology data to identify how much time they had in between when the plant starts to grow and when it drops its seeds. After a year of data collection with Nature's Notebook , the team determined the number of days they could allow between treatments and adjusted their schedules accordingly. This study demonstrates the potential for data collected by volunteer scientists to inform ecological restoration.

Photo: Ann Humphrey, USFWS
Robins now migrate 12 days early
Authors of a new study in Environmental Research Letters found that since 1994, American Robins have been migrating about 5 days earlier per decade. Robins use local environmental cues to know when to keep moving north, such as snow melt, which has allowed them to keep pace with the shifting seasons. What is still unknown is whether there is a limit to this behavioral flexibility with further changes in climate.

American Robin
Especially for Local Phenology Leaders
LPP Highlight: Couturie Forest Phenology Trail
Couturie Forest is 60 acres of bottomland hardwood forest in the heart of New Orleans. The New Orleans City Park started using Nature's Notebook in 2019 to track the phenology of 10 native species. Staff installed signs along the Phenology Trail for easy identification by the many walkers, joggers, dog walkers, and bird walkers who frequent the Park; 37 observers have participated so far. Couturie Forest is part of the regional Gulf Coast Phenology Trail which aims to document changes in phenology of plants and animals from Louisiana to Alabama.

Couturie Forest staff hope to also engage local teachers in tracking phenology with their classrooms, including a pre-school that is housed right in the Forest. The Trail has been incorporated into the local Master Naturalist training program, and they plan to tap into the 50 students who graduate every year to build a team of trained volunteers to give phenology tours and recruit new observers.

Even though not everyone who sees the signs registers to become a Nature's Notebook observer, regular forest users have appreciated the new signage that teaches them the names of native tree species!    

Highlight courtesy of Lindsay Kirsch, LPL of Couturie Forest Phenology Trail
PhenoChampion 2019 Winners: Earthwise Aware
PhenoChampions are Local Phenology Programs that go above and beyond to engage their volunteers in long-term phenology programs. The 2019 winner is Earthwise Aware , a conservation non-profit in Massachusetts. This group created a beautiful and detailed Phenology Report  with results from their data collection. They have also submitted multiple annual impact statements to track their progress toward meeting their goals. Well done!

Observer at Earthwise Aware site, Photo: Claire O'Neill
Newly certified LPLs
Congratulations to our newest cohort of Certified Local Phenology Leaders ! These Leaders are ready to implement their long-term phenology programs at locations across the country.

  • Mitchell Robinson, MS
  • Jeff Baker, OH
  • Alec Garfield, NC
  • Natalie Reder, OH
  • Sarah Hooghuis, VT
  • Dani Carroll, AL
  • Christine Melvin, UT
  • Claudia Whitney, IA
  • Pam Rimer, AZ

Interested in our online Certification Course? Upcoming courses include a 3-week summer short course in July and a full 10-week course in September. Sign up to get notified when the applications open.

Related resources
A chance to give your input
The European Geosciences Union is compiling information from the phenology community about your commonly used data sources, tools, and needs. The survey will help EGU understand the great diversity of our phenology community and guide their future work.

New Handbook of Citizen Science
The Handbook of Citizen Science in Ecology and Conservation is the first practical and comprehensive manual for setting up a citizen science program. Check out the chapter on Nature's Notebook authored by USA-NPN staff - From tiny acorns grow mighty oaks: What we have learned from nurturing Nature’s Notebook.

Phenology happenings in Colorado
Need a chance to escape for a few minutes? Take a (virtual) walk by listening to Boulder Open Space plant ecologists tell you about the phenology happening along the McClintock trail. Volunteers are tracking multiple species of plants there this spring.

Erin Posthumus
Outreach Coordinator
LoriAnne Barnett
Education Coordinator