AMES, Iowa -- To help the state’s wildlife populations continue to thrive, Iowa State University Extension has established the NatureMapping Program. Started in 1999, the program teaches citizens how to collect information on common wildlife species.
“There are not enough professionals, time or funding to conduct an inventory of all the nation’s flora and fauna,” says Jim Pease, Extension wildlife specialist and director, Iowa NatureMapping. “One way to achieve the needed inventory is to involve an interested public in helping us.” Wildlife professionals use the information to establish management plans for the state’s wildlife.
Workshops are being held throughout Iowa this year. The next will workshop will be held Saturday, May 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Muscatine County Environmental Learning Center and Discovery Park. The park's address is 3300 Cedar St., Muscatine.
The program provides hands-on environmental education. “Involving the public in ‘finding the pieces of the puzzle’ is what NatureMapping is all about,” says Jason O'Brien, coordinator, Iowa NatureMapping. “Trained NatureMapping volunteers are a vital link in wildlife management efforts in Iowa. Currently, we are concentrating on amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds of Iowa.” He added that the goal is “to keep common wildlife common.”
“Citizen involvement to date shows that Iowans are dedicated to protecting and enhancing our state’s wildlife,” O’Brien says. Since its inception, hundreds of people, representing schools, businesses, agencies and other community groups have been trained. To date, tens of thousands of species reports, representing hundreds of Iowa species, have been entered into the Iowa NatureMapping database.
“Volunteers can provide much needed data by recording wildlife observations around their home and feeders, when hiking, canoeing, or doing other wildlife-related activities. School participation can vary depending on the size and scope of the projects chosen,” Pease adds. “It can fulfill a valuable service to their community, while engaging students in a related project of data collection and analysis.”
For registration information, contact O’Brien at (515) 294-6440, at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the NatureMapping Web site at www.extension.iastate.edu/naturemapping. There is a $30 cost for each workshop, which includes materials and lunch.