Print Logo

Citizen Science


Biologist doing fieldwork

Citizen science has grown exponentially in scope and popularity since our flagship citizen science initiative began 30 years ago. Since then, our programs — including the Calling Frog Survey, the Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network, and the Illinois Odonate Survey — have been recognized as models for others, and continue to provide opportunities for passionate individuals to get involved in scientific research. Read on to discover how you can get involved in real research—no advanced degree required.

Jump To: Calling Frog Survey | Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network | Illinois Odonate Survey

Calling Frog Survey

Calling Frog Survey collage

In the 1960s, the Cricket frog was the most common amphibian in Illinois. Today, it has nearly disappeared from the northern third of Illinois, for unexplained reasons. By monitoring amphibian populations in the Chicago region, we will be able to detect population changes before it is too late as well as assess the effects of management regimes on amphibians.

In 2000, Chicago Wilderness initiated a calling frog survey as part of its amphibian biodiversity recovery plan. In 2014, the Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum became home to the Calling Frog Survey. Educated volunteers collect and submit data each spring.

Our group is comprised of ordinary citizens, citizen scientists, and formally trained scientists who share a strong environmental ethic and a love for frogs. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or a seasoned frogger; as a team we will all contribute valuable information that will help amphibians in our region. In the process, you'll find that this is a fun way to spend time with friends and family.

Click the button below to learn more or to get involved as a frog monitor.

Become a monitor for the Calling Frog Survey

Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network

Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network collage

All across Illinois, citizen scientists are monitoring butterflies and providing scientists with critical data that paints a picture of where butterflies are thriving and how populations and habitats are changing.

The Nature Museum’s Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network (IBMN) is an award-winning citizen science program to assess the long-term effects of ecosystem restoration activities on animals. These results assist land managers in more effective conservation of Illinois butterflies.

The IBMN was founded in 1987 and since then has expanded from seven sites to more than 100! Many other states have adopted our protocols for their own Butterfly Monitoring Networks.

Some butterfly monitors know a great deal about the species, but many begin with limited knowledge of butterflies. Training is provided twice a year with a winter indoor workshop and a summer field experience. There is ongoing support from network leaders throughout the year.

Sign up today to become one of the more than 150 citizen scientists who play such an important role in this initiative.

What Monitors Do

  • Conduct at least six site visits
  • Spend 1 to 2 hours walking a predetermined route during each visit
  • Learn to identify 25 butterfly species the first year and 25 more the second year
  • At the end of the season, submit data which are added to the IBMN database
Become a monitor for the Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network

Illinois Odonate Survey

Illinois Odonate Survey collage

In 1987, the Nature Conservancy created the Butterfly Monitoring Network to assess the effects of management on animals. The Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum has collaborated with this successful effort to explore the effect that habitat management has on butterfly populations. Based on this effective model, the Dragonfly Monitoring Network was created with the aim of gaining a greater knowledge of the distribution and abundance of dragonfly and damselfly species in the Chicago region and, eventually, to expand the network across Illinois and beyond.

In 2011, the Dragonfly Monitoring Network was renamed to become the Illinois Odonate Survey and was been expanded to receive information from throughout Illinois, and to include one-off species accounts. In 2017, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum became the official home for the Illinois Odonate Survey.

Click the button below to learn more or to get involved as a dragonfly and damselfly monitor.

Become a monitor for the Illinois Odonate Survey

Mobile navigation