PRI provides opportunities to participate in and learn about citizen science, in which anyone can collect data to contribute to scientific research.

Visitors to the Cayuga Nature Center can collect data on tree phenology—observations about the timing of seasonal changes in plant life such as buds breaking, flowers blooming, and leaves changing color— along our Tree Phenology Walk. Shifts in the timing of these seasonal events can be indicators of climate change. PRI staff submit these observations to the U.S.A. National Phenology Network, where researchers can access the data for their studies.

PRI and the 4-H Youth Development program at Cornell Cooperative Extension have developed a curriculum on weather and climate for upper elementary and secondary school youth: Tracking Climate in Your Backyard. Curriculum modules are available on our website. This curriculum complements participation in The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS), a citizen science project that asks participants to record precipitation in their backyard and upload the data to be shared nationally. The data collected by citizen scientists fill gaps situated in between National Weather Service weather stations, and are used by scientists, weather forecasters, water managers, engineers, insurance industry researchers, and others. Visitors to the Museum of the Earth can view a CoCoRaHS rain gauge which PRI uses to collect precipitation data for this project.

PRI has also run citizen science projects in paleontology, including the Mastodon Matrix Project, Devonian Seas, and Fossil Finders. For the Mastodon Matrix Project™ participating groups sorted fossils from sediment from several mastodon excavations in order to development collections and inventory the fossil fauna and flora from the sites. Devonian Seas and Fossil Finders, the latter in collaboration with colleagues at Cornell and the University of Georgia, involved teachers and their students in documenting marine fossil faunas from some classic middle Devonian localities in Central New York. Though these projects are not currently active, publications for educators and education researchers from these projects are available by request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

PRI’s Citizen Science programs have been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Park Foundation.