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2009 Observer Survey Report

September 1, 2010

The USA‐National Phenology Network (USA‐NPN) seeks to engage volunteer observers in collecting phenological observations of plants and animals using consistent standards and to contribute their observations to a national data repository. In March 2009, the National Coordinating Office staff implemented an online monitoring program for 213 plant species. In this pilot year of the program, 547 observers reported phenology observations on one or more plants via the online interface.

To learn more about our participants and to improve our program and our participants’ experience, we undertook a survey of individuals registered in the USA‐NPN phenology observation program. This report summarizes the results of the 2009 observer surveys.  Two populations were targeted via separate surveys:  

  1. Individuals who registered with the USA‐NPN plant phenology monitoring program via MyNPN but did not submit any data in 2009 (hereafter termed “non‐reporting participants”), and
  2. Individuals who submitted phenology observations via MyNPN in 2009 (hereafter termed “reporting participants”).

In general, all participants in the 2009 USA‐NPN plant phenology observation program seemed to have a generally good experience. When asked why they would or would not recommend the program to friends, the majority of comments were of a positive nature, and included explanations such as, “It is an interesting and fairly light duty activity”, “It’s a cool program!”, and “A way to contribute to science”. The most commonly indicated reason for not submitting observations among non‐reporters was getting lost in the registration process (14% of respondents). Another 14% of respondents indicated that they had collected observations but did not submit them online, indicating that more people may be engaged in understanding phenology than our estimates based on data submitted suggest.  

Survey participants’ suggestions for improving the program fell into several categories, including the need for a more expansive list of plants from which to pick, the ability to monitor animals, and more information on the plants, including photographs of the various phenophases to aid in identification. Participants also requested increased contact from the USA‐NPN, in the form of weekly or monthly emails or newsletters and reminders to collect and submit observations. Many of these suggestions are either already being addressed in changes being made to the monitoring system and online entry system or are planned for the future.

Publication Year 2010
Title 2009 Observer Survey Report
Authors Theresa Crimmins, Alyssa H. Rosemartin, Alexis Lincicome, Jake F. Weltzin
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Series Title USA-NPN Technical Series
Series Number 2010‐003
Index ID 70040056
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Phenology Network