MeadoWatch Featured in High Country New, Mother Jones

Hi MeadoWatchers!

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the cool Autumn whether, even if that involves cloudier days and the all familiar drizzle.

lenticular clouds

Over the summer I had the privilege of hiking the Reflection Lakes trail with Jane Hu, an independent journalist located here in Seattle. She contacted us because she was interested in the role citizen scientists play in scientific research specifically, in our case, research related to climate change. From her hike, Jane was able to gather enough information, from myself and a few willing and eager MeadoWatchers along the trail, to produce an excellent piece about MeadoWatch and how the data we are collecting helps researchers evaluate how ecosystems can (and will) change as a result of climate change.

Shared below are a couple of links to the article that feature quotes from myself and Janneke as well as fellow MeadoWatchers: Karen Sy, Dan Paquette, Elly Adelman, Pat Cirone, and Dana Davoli. I hope y’all enjoy!

Volunteer Scientists Study Flowers to Battle Climate Dread:

https://www.hcn.org/issues/50.18/climate-change-volunteer-scientists-study-wildflowers-to-battle-climate-dread-mount-rainier-national-park

https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2018/10/volunteer-scientists-study-flowers-to-battle-climate-dread/

All the Best,

Joshua and your MeadoWatch Team

 

 

 

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More than a Snapshot

“What do you like most about having the opportunity to visit Mt. Rainier every week?”, a friend asked when checking in on how my summer was going.

My answer? Being able to see The Park evolve with the seasons. Being able to see Mt. Rainier National Park’s many moods.

IMG_0225

I don’t enjoy being a tourist. Anywhere. I don’t enjoy having to rush around a city or, in this case, a national park. Trying desperately to soak up everything in a few days or a few hours. I’m don’t like the idea of only seeing a snapshot of a place; only being able to see a location at one moment in time. I don’t like it because I’m not experiencing the true soul of a place. Sure, visiting Seattle on a dry, sunny, July weekend is an ideal experience for some people; just like a sunny day at Mt. Rainier National Park during peak wildflower season is the the bedrock of thousands of family vacations.  And rightly so, these are beautiful experiences that I wish all could enjoy, but they don’t give you a feeling of either location’s true essence.

Some of my favorite data collection experiences this summer were cold mornings in late June when snow still covered the ground, or cool mornings in early September when a steady drizzle gave me no choice but to use the lab’s write in the rain clipboard. The early mornings at Reflection Lakes, just after sunrise, when the trail was cloaked in dense fog and the only living things I encountered were bears or families of elk grazing in the meadows. They were the mornings at Glacier Basin when I entered a clearing and was promptly greeted by Mt. Rainier’s glowing facade as it reflected the morning sun.

I loved being present to see glacier and avalanche lilies mark the beginning of summer as they peeked through the snow and at the end of summer as fruit and seed phenophases dominated the meadows. I loved the process of becoming familiar with the trails and our plots. I loved not feeling like a tourist.

I think these experiences are one of the main things we all enjoy about MeadoWatch and one of the things that keep many of you coming back year after year. Yes, this amazing program gives you the opportunity to participate in climate change research. It allows you collect wildflower phenology data and hike with your close friends. It gives you the opportunity to make a difference. These are all things I cherish about MeadoWatch. But, at the root of it all, it gives you the chance to feel at home in a place of immense beauty, it gives you the opportunity to be a little closer to nature, it gives you a chance to see more than just a snapshot.

Today marks, the official end of the MeadoWatch 2018 season and I want to thank you all for such an incredible experience.

Thank you to everyone who donated before the season began. Thank you to everyone I interacted with via email and social media. Thank you to everyone I ran into on the trails and everyone that shared their stories for our volunteer highlight blog posts. Thank you to the NPS employees I met this summer. Thank you to everyone I had the privilege of hiking with this summer; including the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program and the Mercer Slough Pacific Science Center. Thank you to my pal Adrienne for telling about this opportunity and thank you to Meera and Janneke for giving it to me.

I decided to attend the University of Washington, sight unseen, for graduate school because I believed the city of Seattle and the University would present me with opportunities to realize my dream of a career in the field of environmental policy. Without a doubt, this is one of those opportunities and I’m incredibly grateful for everyone that made it such an unforgettable experience.

All the Best,

Joshua Jenkins

 

 

 

Volunteer Highlight: Elly Adelman, Pat Cirone, and Dana Davoli

Hi MeadoWatchers!

The weather is changing, our focal species are well past their peak, and there are only two blog posts left; it is amazing how quickly this summer has progressed. This week brings an end to our Volunteer Highlight series. The final installment is a special one because it features three of our fellow MeadoWatchers!

I would like to introduce Elly Adelman, Dana Davoli, and Pat Cirone!

Elly, Pat, and Dana2
Photo Taken by Jane Hu

 

Q: How many years have you been with MeadoWatch and how did you find out about the program?:

Pat Cirone: One year. Through a friend who is a meadow rover.

Elly Adelman: This is my first year with MeadoWatch.  I found out from my friend, Judi Schwarz, who was already a Mt Rainier volunteer in another program before she joined MeadoWatch

Dana Davoli: This was my first year doing MeadoWatch. My friend Judi who has been doing volunteer work at Rainier for years told me about it. Unfortunately, she got sick as we were starting on the trail that day and couldn’t join us. 

Q: What is one thing you can’t be without on a hike?:

Pat Cirone: Water

Elly Adelman: In addition to the usual essential items (water, food, emergency kit, clothing), I like to bring binoculars for spotting birds.

Dana Davoli: Hard to pick just one but obviously the essentials – water, food, good boots and a hat.

Q: What do you like most about being a part of MeadoWatch?:

Pat Cirone: Learning about plant phases; becoming more aware of phenophases

Elly Adelman: I enjoy being part of a compatible team doing citizen science together. I appreciate that we are supporting a longitudinal study on climate and climate change, all while hiking scenic Mt. Rainier trails.

Dana Davoli: It feels great to be a part of a citizen science effort that deals with the impacts of climate change. It has also changed the way I look at flowers now. I don’t just look for flowers but rather all the stages.

Q:   What has been your most memorable moment while on a MeadoWatch hike?:

Pat Cirone: Recognizing the amazing display of seeds and seed pods as well as the flowering phase of plants

Elly Adelman: Being on Mt Rainier with friends doing citizen science

Dana Davoli: One was the bear we saw even though it was very far away. I also really enjoyed meeting you and the writer you had with you. It was great to know that the program will get some press. 

We are incredibly grateful for Dana, Elly, and Pat’s willingness to share a little bit about their MeadoWatch experiences! Thank you to everyone that devoted their time and/or money to MeadoWatch and an additional thanks to all of the MeadoWatchers that shared their stories for inclusion in blog posts. It goes without saying that this program would be nothing without your efforts!

Be on the look out for our final blog post next week!

All the Best,

Joshua and Your MeadoWatch Team

 

MeadoWatchers: Who Sticks Around?

“How many volunteers signed up for orientation? How many actually attended? How many collected data? How many MeadoWatchers came back for another year of the program”

These are a few of the questions we ask ourselves in order to gain a better understanding of how well we are attracting and retaining volunteers.

This summer, I spent some time compiling data to gain information about Volunteer Retention: “What percentage of first year MeadoWatchers return for another year?” Data Collector Retention: “What percentage of first year MeadoWatchers that also collected data returned for another year?” and Volunteer Attrition: “In a given year, which percent of volunteers move on to the next “step” of the MeadoWatch process.” The question we want to answer: “Are we doing a good job of attracting and retaining volunteers?”

Answering these questions allows us to evaluate various aspects of our program and provides us with key insight on things we should improve or maintain.

Recently, I’ve posted blogs that highlight the humanity of MeadoWatchers, but this week I thought I would share a snapshot of the MeadoWatch story in data form. What you see below was compiled in Excel and represented visually using the web-based infographic application “Piktochart.” I hope you find it interesting!

*Because of record-keeping and the fact that MeadoWatch 2018 has not ended yet, I’m only able to present you with with Volunteer Attrition data for 2016 and 2017.*

Volunteer Retention Infographic

volunteer-attri_31337299

 

Volunteer Highlight: Martha Scoville

Hi MeadoWatchers!

This week’s Volunteer Highlight features Martha Scoville (L). I ran into Martha and fellow MeadoWatcher, Stephanie, a few weeks back on the Glacier Basin trail. It was a warm day, not lacking in biting flies and mosquitoes, but both of these amazing MeadoWatchers took the time to stop and have a brief conversation with me.

MeadoWatchers, I’d like to introduce you to fellow MeadoWatcher, Martha Scoville!

Martha (L) Stephanie (R)

 

Q: How many years have you been with MeadoWatch and how did you find out about the program?

Martha: My husband and I have been Meadow Rovers at Sunrise now for 14 summers and in the process of attending annual orientations and training we were aware of various Citizen Science opportunities at Mt. Rainier. When I learned about a new program called MeadoWatch, I was hooked as I have always enjoyed learning the names and identifying mountain wildflowers. MeadoWatch would be a chance for me to enhance my identification skills as well as participate in a broad data gathering effort that would give me a way to contribute to documenting effects of climate change.

Q: What is one thing you can’t be without on a hike?

Martha: Is water too obvious an answer for what I absolutely need on a hike? I am astounded by how many people I meet on the trail without any!!

Q: What do you like most about being a part of MeadoWatch?

Martha: I love the process of hiking the same trail over time and never having the same experience twice. It’s a chance to experience Mt. Rainier in all her moods.

Q: What has been your most memorable moment while on a MeadoWatch hike?

Martha: The most memorable moments always involve the sighting of a wild animal and right after Stephanie and I met you on the trail that day, I spotted a dash of an elongated brown, low slung, furry creature dart across the trail ahead of me. I caught my breath, watched it stop, turn, and look at me with it’s little perky pointed ears and sweet little face – a Fisher! As many know, they were reintroduced in the Park only two years ago. And this is why my favorite summer days are spent at Mt. Rainier.
Thanks for sharing, Martha! I too love the process of hiking the same trail over time and never having the same experience. Watching the flowers go through their phases and experiencing Mt. Rainier and all of her moods. Truly something beautiful to behold.

I hope to run into some of you on the trails in the future. Happy hiking MeadoWatchers!

All the Best,

Joshua and Your MeadoWatch Team

 

Volunteer Highlight: Paul Chandanabhumma

Hi MeadoWatchers!

In this week’s volunteer highlight I would like to introduce you to fellow MeadoWatcher, Paul Chandanabhumma!

Paul

Q: How many years have you been with MeadoWatch and how did you find out about the program?:

This is my first year with MeadoWatch.  I heard about it from a friend who really enjoyed being part of it a few years ago.

Q: What is one thing you can’t be without on a hike?:

As much as I’d like to name all 10 hiking essentials items, I’d say it’s the MeadoWatch pamphlet!  It’s tricky to tell the plants apart when they aren’t in bloom and I can’t survive without your detailed photos and descriptions!

Q: What do you like most about being a part of MeadoWatch?

As a community health PhD student, I enjoy this grounded approach of doing research that literally takes me to the field and putting my botanical knowledge (I’m a plant nerd) into practice!  Finding myself in spectacular natural surroundings also gives me time to reflect on my work, and hopefully make a meaningful connection between wildflowers and public health work one of these days.   

Q: What has been your most memorable moment while on a MeadoWatch hike?:

On my first Reflection Lakes hike I came across a marmot trying to cross the higher part of trail that had a snow patch on it.  Once I approached it, the marmot decidedly took a defensive approach of lying on top of the snow patch directly in front of me!  I had to take a little detour around him so I wouldn’t disturb its relaxing posture.  It was hilarious, photogenic, and memorable at the same time. 

Thank you, Paul for sharing a little bit about yourself and your MeadoWatch experiences! Thanks for helping make MeadoWatch the incredible program it is!

As always, happy hiking and data collecting, MeadoWatchers. I hope to run into some of you on the trails next week!

All the Best,

Joshua and Your MeadoWatch Team

Volunteer Highlight: Deb Naslund

Hi MeadoWatchers!

MeadoWatch is nothing without our amazing volunteers. One of my favorite aspects of collecting data on MeadoWatch hikes is the opportunity to run into the very people that make MeadoWatch the amazing citizen science program it is.

Last week, while hiking the Reflection Lakes trail, I was brainstorming new ideas for blog posts that would create more of a community feel within the MeadoWatch program. I believe it is safe to say we all share a love for this program, the environment, and wildflowers but many of us know nothing about the other MeadoWatchers we have so much in common with. After running into Deb Naslund, and speaking with her briefly, I had an idea; to foster a greater sense of community I will start highlighting the volunteers I run into on the trails. So here is our first volunteer highlight.

MeadoWatchers, meet fellow MeadoWatcher, Deb Naslund!

Deborah Naslund

Q: How many years have you been with MeadoWatch and how did you find out about the program?

Deb: I started volunteering with MeadoWatch in 2013.  I was still working at the time, so this program was the perfect amount of commitment for a busy schedule – one day of training, two days out in the mountains.  Honestly, I thought I should be paying you all for the opportunity!  I can’t remember how I heard about the program.  

Q: What is one thing you can’t be without on a hike?

Deb: I just can’t go out without some kind of plant id materials. Depending on how far and/or how long I’m planning on hiking, I may just bring the Washington Wildflowers app on my phone or go all out with multiple books on the flora of the area! 

Q: What do you like most about being a part of MeadoWatch?

Deb: I love subalpine and alpine meadow ecosystems.  When I was in school, eons ago, I did my research on nutrient cycling in subalpine meadows, just to have an excuse to spend time there.  I enjoy helping, in this small way, with your research expanding our understanding of the potential impacts of climate change on these delicate areas.

Q: What has been your most memorable moment while on a MeadoWatch hike?

Deb: My most memorable moment on a MeadoWatch hike came in 2013 or maybe 2014, when a couple of hikers stopped to ask me what I was doing. Of course, I immediately launched into my usual overly enthusiastic explanation. But, this couple took a genuine interest in what we were doing and asked several insightful questions. As I was about to hike on, clutching, as usual, my copy of “Flora of Mount Rainier National Park” by David Biek, the woman turned to me and said, pointing to her companion, “You know, David wrote that book…”. Oh my! I had just been talking about Mt. Rainier wildflowers with David Biek himself! My only regret was that I didn’t have the presence of mind to ask him to sign my book right there on the spot.  

Thank you, Deb for sharing a little bit about yourself and your MeadoWatch experiences! I’m sure I’m not alone in saying your story about David Biek is amazing. Thanks for helping make MeadoWatch the incredible program it is! Don’t forget to check back in next week for our next volunteer highlight!

As always, happy hiking and data collecting, MeadoWatchers. I hope to run into some of you on the trails next week!

All the Best,

Joshua and Your MeadoWatch Team