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Science as Leisure

Liz Marchio

I am a trained ichthyologist interested in what gets people interested in natural history, biological sciences, and science careers. My passion is to find out what fuels curiosity for the natural world.

Biology-related serious leisure activities can impact people's interest in ecology, biology, and natural history. Do these activities promote biological understanding? If so, how does that progress and to what level does it progress to? 

If you're interested in a starting a dialogue, please feel free to contact me. If you're curious about how I got here, my story can be found on the About Me page.


Citizen Science: Be a Squirrel Monitor

Citizen science is a way for people with no special training to participate in activities that promote exploration and discovery.

Most of the activities that have a citizen science component available are activities that people are doing with their leisure time anyway. One of the most popular citizen science initiatives is which allows birdwatchers to report their sightings (more on that site later)!

I will be posting citizen science (cs) programs/opportunities periodically so you can see all the awesome data people just like you collect in their own backyard! Literally! 

The first cs program I'd like to tell you about is Project Squirrel ( This program is out of Chicago but they collect data outside of Chicago too! It started in 1997 and have 1000+ people participate so far. That's not a whole lot for a cs program, I think they need some help! 


If you see grey or fox squirrels in your yard, on campus, or wherever you may be you can add data to Project Squirrel! Below are the ways you can participate. This information was taken directly from the Project Squirrel website:

  • Record Your Squirrel Observations
    • Become a Citizen Scientist. Click here to tell us about squirrels near you. You can submit a single observation but, if you can, make at least four observations per site per year. If you are in an area where it seems like there should be squirrels but aren’t, please report that too.
  • Share Your Squirrel Stories
    • We will post your stories and observations as appropriate on this site. Click here to read what other people have seen. Click here to submit a story.
  • Share Your Squirrel Photos
    • We will post your squirrel photos as appropriate on this site. Click here to see what other's photos. Click here to submit a photo.


I hope you take a minute to check out this citizen science opportunity.This could be a great project for someone who is at home constantly and can't get out much (elderly, home bound, home schooled kids, etc.). 

I'd like to thank my Aggie students in RPTS 301 for finding this citizen science project! 

As always, feel free to comment! 

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