Water, Trees & Bees: Citizen Science

Urban Roots Conservation youth interns have been busy bees this summer collecting data for a variety of citizen science projects. Using a range of data collecting techniques, the youth were able to contribute to studies examining water quality, trees and bees!

The University of Minnesota Extension’s Wasp Watchers Program, which collects data for scientists monitoring the spread of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer, was one of the great learning experiences for youth interns. The project involved observation of a ground nesting solitary wasp called the Smokey Winged Beatle Bandit (Cerceris fumipennis). This wasp hunts the wood-boring beetles, captures and paralyzes them, and returns to its ant-like nest to feed the beetle to its larva. If Emerald Ash Borer is within a one-mile radius of the nest, there is a good chance the wasp will catch it, informing observers of the beetle’s proximity. Youth observed the wasp’s nests found in unused ball fields, waited for them to return with a captured beetle, then netted the wasp and collected the beetle for lab identification!

Making good use of the insect nets, we also surveyed for bumblebees at our worksites and found three different species; the two spotted, black and gold, and common eastern bumblebee.

Throughout the summer, interns also participated in the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Citizen Stream Monitoring Program. Youth evaluated water quality by making qualitative observations on how the stream looked, measuring water temperature, and then measuring water clarity using a tool called a secchi tube.

The interns learned so much while contributing to scientific research and enjoyed the break from pulling invasive plant material!

Gao Sheng using net

Isaiah with Beetle