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Hello Alycia,

You are receiving this message because you signed up to receive communications about upcoming volunteer opportunities as a Virginia Master Naturalist volunteer.  Please see the announcement below regarding participation in the Collaborative Science initiative.  

Michelle Prysby
VMN Special Projects Coordinator

Image of three volunteers looking at rotting log on forest floor.  Photo by Ben Raterman.
Seeking New Collaborative Science Projects

Do volunteers in your chapter have a conservation project in mind that could use some funding and expert help?  This is a call for proposals from VMN chapters that would like to do Collaborative Science projects.

Project Overview and Purpose
Collaborative Science is an initiative funded by the National Science Foundation to study how online tools can be used to help community groups plan, conduct, and evaluate conservation projects.  Chapter projects that are chosen for Collaborative Science will use online tools such as webinars, discussion forums, and modeling tools to plan and carry out their projects and conduct research to learn if they were effective at achieving the conservation outcomes.  They will receive mini-grants of up to $1,000 to purchase necessary supplies and materials for conducting the projects.  Project volunteers will be asked to enroll in the research study, participate in surveys and interviews, and use the online learning tools.   

Example Projects
Are you wondering what kinds of projects could be eligible?  Here are a few examples.

  • One VMN chapter has used the Collaborative Science framework to conduct research on which methods of Japanese stilt grass control are most effective in a long-leaf pine habitat.
  • Members in another chapter are using the framework to study the effectiveness of riparian buffers on water quality in an area impacted by cow grazing.
  • A third, multi-chapter group of volunteers is using the framework to test the effectiveness of different strategies for deterring house sparrows from using bluebird nest boxes.

Many kinds of citizen science and stewardship projects may be eligible!  Is there a park or natural area that you would like to improve?  The Collaborative Science framework will help you think through what conservation outcomes you hope to achieve, plan your activities, and measure to see if they worked.  Along the way, you will interact with scientists and natural resource professionals who can offer guidance.  

To be eligible, most of the project work must be able to be completed by August 2016.

To Apply
If a group of members in your chapter have an idea for a project that you think would fit the Collaborative Science framework, please email Michelle Prysby, VMN Special Projects Coordinator, mprysby@vt.edu.  Include the following information:

  • A brief description of the project you have in mind, including the site location and the conservation outcomes you hope to achieve (e.g., improved water quality, improved habitat for pollinators, improved regeneration of native trees and plants, etc.)
  • A brief description of the activities you think you would want to do to achieve those conservation outcomes (e.g., remove invasive species, plant buffers along waterways, plant pollinator-attracting plants, etc.)
  • A list of at least five VMN volunteers who are interested in being part of Collaborative Science.  A core group of at least five people is suggested in order to make the best use of the Collaborative Science tools and framework.  These individuals must be willing and able to work as a team to plan and conduct the project.

To be considered, we must receive your application by July 15, 2015.  We can only support a limited number of new Collaborative Science projects, so we will evaluate your proposals and choose those that fit best with the goals of the NSF-funded initiative.  If you have any questions at all or need to brainstorm ideas, please feel free to contact Michelle Prysby by phone (434-872-4571) or email (mprysby@vt.edu).  

Virginia Master Naturalist programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.