Using their backyards as laboratories, participants in the Signs of the Seasons program help scientists document the local effects of global climate change. Hundreds are trained to observe and record the phenology (seasonal changes) of common plants and animals living in their own communities — a citizen science project that fills a gap in regional climate research. Volunteers across Maine and now New Hampshire record the growth of milkweed, the nesting of robins, and more. The goal is to build a rich, detailed record of the region’s seasonal turns, a resource too costly to build without a network of citizen volunteers. The collected data are made available to our collaborating scientists and resource managers.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine Sea Grant coordinate the Signs of the Seasons program in partnership with the USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN), Acadia National Park, Schoodic Education and Research Center, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine Maritime Academy, Maine Audubon, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, and climate scientists and educators at the University of Maine. Current participants include Master Gardners, 4-H Youth Groups, and coastal groups affiliated with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine Sea Grant, as well as other groups and individuals across the state in all 16 counties.