Citizen science is the practice of public participation and collaboration in scientific research to increase scientific knowledge. Through citizen science, people share and contribute to data monitoring and collection programs. Usually this participation is done as an unpaid volunteer. Scientists may create a citizen-science program to capture more or more widely spread data without spending additional funding. They often work with community groups that are already collecting such information, such as birders or weatherbugs, to expand their studies and databases.
The Elkhart River Restoration Association thrives on citizen scientists. Due to lack of funding, it is essential that interested voluteers would come to test the biologial, chemical, and physical attributes of a particular water site. Helping to analyze the health of a stream or other body of water helps round out data on the particular streams to get a better view of what is needed to improve the overall health. Community-based groups, interested volunteers, amateur scientists, students, and educators of all skill levels are welcome to join and promote new ideas to advance our understanding of the world. Volunteers have varying levels of expertise, from kids in their backyards to members of high school science clubs to amateur astronomers with sophisticated home equipment. Modern advances in technology make citizen science more accessible today than ever before. The success of any citizen science project depends on the establishment of a well-devised monitoring program and the dedication of its volunteers.