Jeanette Pirlo1, Molly Phillips1, Libby Ellwood2, Jennifer Bauer3, Austin Hendy4

1Florida Museum Of Natural History, Gainesville, United States, 2La Brea Tar Pits & Museum, Los Angeles, United States, 3University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, United States, 4Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, United States


Natural history collections (NHC) preserve the biodiversity of the Earth through systematic collection by scientists, both professional and avocational. Community scientists, and the science that they conduct, are a vital link for the growth, research, and preservation of NHCs. Community scientists are members of the general public that collect and analyze data of the natural world. This is usually done through a collaborative project with professional scientists, but it does not stop there. Community scientists can be avocational scientists that collect NHC specimens independently such as fossils, plants, and occurrence data. These personal collections aid NHCs through donations of actual specimens, location information, and more. Donation of time and resources also advance NHCs. Many NHC have a thriving volunteer program where community scientists work to prepare and curate specimens as well as coordinate educational and outreach programs. Other community scientists donate their resources through access to their land for collection of specimens further enhancing NHCs. Traditionally, community scientists have been those with ample free time to allocate to collecting data. As we work to move the needle in broadening participation in STEM, there has been increased effort to make community science more inclusive. Some of these efforts include providing training through workshops on proper collection and curation with avocational scientists and focusing on communities that have traditionally been marginalized, like rural and inner-city communities, including K-12 classrooms. Moving forward, it is imperative to reach out and work with native communities, honoring their traditions and collection techniques to further diversify natural history collections. This session will highlight successes and challenges posed for incorporating community scientists into our natural history collections and together we can discuss a path forward into the future. We welcome abstract submissions spanning community science projects to how community scientists have improved NHCs.

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