Like you, we here at the USA-NPN's National Coordinating Office are reeling from the new reality we find ourselves in. We hope that you and your loved ones are well and weathering the upheaval as you are able. On the professional front, we realize many of you are facing cancelled programming and conferences, shifts to working at home, new homeschooling duties for your children, and for some, the loss of your jobs. Our hearts go out to you.

During all this uncertainty it is a small comfort to look out the window and see that nature soldiers on. Signs of spring are everywhere, a reminder of what connects us to one another in this Network. Know that our Nature's Notebook infrastructure and other phenology data products remain unchanged and will be there for you when you need.

Below, we offer some resources to try to help make these unprecedented times a little easier. Remember that your health and that of your families and communities come first. While we are grateful if you are able to safely continue your Nature's Notebook programs during this time, always follow the guidelines for your area related to self-isolating and sheltering in place.
We are all in this together,
What's new at Nature's Notebook and USA-NPN
Nature's Notebook Crash Course
Education Coordinator LoriAnne Barnett will offer a one hour crash course that will cover:
  • How to get a group set up in Nature's Notebook
  • How to engage participants remotely
  • Which activities and curriculum might be most relevant to your particular learning environment
  • How to move scheduled Nature's Notebook trainings online.

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020 at 12 pm PDT / 3 pm EDT. We will post the recording on our YouTube channel .

Password: 056653
Your Questions, Answered
We've been receiving a lot of questions about how to manage your phenology programs during these difficult times. Here are some suggestions:

My staff/volunteers don't have access to our observation site anymore, what should we do?
We have to accept that there will be some gaps in data during this time - that is ok! If you are determined to continue to collect data, and it is safe and you are allowed to do so, here are some options:
If your Nature's Notebook site has been closed to the public, then your volunteers will not be able to make observations. Are staff still working on site? Consider having them take photos of your plants and send them to volunteers to enter the data from home, or hang onto the photos to enter at a later date.

If sites are totally inaccessible, or if you are in a location with a shelter in place order, consider whether you or your volunteers have similar species at your home. You can register these new plants or animals at a new personal site. While these are not the same individual plants, they will still contribute valuable information on your species of interest for your area. It will also help you and your volunteers keep up the habit of making observations, not to mention give you a reason to spend time outside!

What will happen to my group/data if we have to stop collecting data for the next several months?
We will maintain your group and all of its associated data in our system. We never delete data collected by Local Phenology Programs unless there is a problem with your data that you have alerted us to.

How can I keep engaging my volunteers remotely?
Check out LoriAnne's tips for moving programs online in our new LPP Forum. It might be a great time to have your observers take our Observer Certification Course , Basic Botany and Intensity Quizzes , read through and take the quizzes in our Botany Primer , or make a Phenophase Photo Guide by taking photos of plants at their homes.

Consider doing a social media campaign to have volunteers document signs of spring out their windows, or start a phenology-related book club.

Also, check out VolunteerPro's Guide for Managing Uncertainty with Volunteers.

Do you have any tips on how to juggle all this online communication?
We use Editorial Calendars to keep track of what content we want to send to different audiences, and when. The Nonprofit Marketing Guide has some great resources on how to create one.

Do you have any activities to do with my kiddos while we're stuck at home?
Yes! We have lots of activities and lesson plans on our Education page . Filter by indoor, outdoor, grade level, and more. Also check out Theresa Crimmins' recent Op-Ed in the Arizona Daily Star about doing citizen science at home during the current public health crisis.

And don't forget to tune into LoriAnne's webinar next Tuesday (details in previous section) for more tips.
Leadership transition at USA-NPN
We are pleased to announce that Theresa Crimmins, former Associate Director, is now the Director of the USA-NPN. After 12 years growing and leading the network, Jake Weltzin has taken a new role at the US Geological Survey as the Acting Senior Science Advisor for its Ecosystems Mission Area.

Theresa says "it’s an exciting new role for me to play in this organization I’ve been a part of for over a decade. I look forward to working with the entire Network to support management, advance science, and communicate broadly and inclusively about the value of phenology!"

Check out Theresa's recent presentation on current activities of the USA-NPN and where we are headed next.

Recent happenings in the field of phenology
Early spring is in the news
We are seeing record breaking early spring leaf out across the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and parts of the Northwest. The USA-NPN data are showing that leafing and blooming is  up to three weeks earlier  than average in many locations, allergies are getting  a head start , and cherry blossoms are  blooming early  in Washington DC. Finally, don't miss USA-NPN Director Theresa Crimmins' thought provoking piece in  The Conversation highlighting the consequences of early spring.

Especially for Local Phenology Leaders
LPP Highlight: Nature's Timekeepers
Lake Superior is among the fastest warming lakes in the world. Nature’s Timekeepers seeks to better understand the impact of Lake Superior on shoreline plant phenology and to engage the local community, scientists and educators in a discussion about climate change. Citizen scientist “timekeepers” monitor phenology of wood species weekly at nature trails located at different distances from the lake in Duluth, MN.

Launched in 2019 as a collaboration between UMN and Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center, the program was designed by volunteers and funded by an American Society of Plant Biologists BLOOME grant and the National Science Foundation. Last year, they offered two training sessions for volunteers and hosted a K-12 continuing education workshop on phenology. In the coming years they plan to increase their social media presence, install signs at sites and build their volunteer base.  

Highlight courtesy of Jessica Savage, LPL of Nature's Timekeepers; Photo: E. O’Connell
New Forum for Local Phenology Leaders
We have a brand new Forum for our Local Phenology Leaders to allow you to ask questions and share ideas, lessons learned, and best practices with other Leaders. We hope that it will become the go-to place for our LPLs to get the information they need to create sustainable long-term phenology programs.

LPP observations are critical!
Back in 2009, we never envisioned that Local Phenology Programs (LPPs) would become such a vital part of Nature's Notebook . The number of records quickly outpaced those coming from individual observers, and now our LPP members contribute nearly double the number of records as backyard observers! We are grateful to all of you whether you are observing individually or as part of a group.
Related resources
Falling leaves and needles phenophase
The National Ecological Observatory Network ( NEON ) and the USA-NPN are currently assessing if the phenology monitoring protocol for falling leaves and needles needs to be adjusted for the Deciduous broadleaf, Drought deciduous broadleaf, Semi-evergreen broadleaf and Deciduous conifer functional groups.

We would greatly appreciate if you could please fill out a  survey   to let us know how and why you use or will use these data!

Spring indices and native trees and shrubs
In a recent study published in  International Journal of BiometeorologyGerst and a team that included staff from the USA-NPN and Dr. Mark Schwartz from University of Wisconsin Madison evaluated how the Spring Indices could be used to predict activity across 19 deciduous species. The extent to which the models predicted phenology varied by species and with latitude, with stronger relationships revealed with the Bloom Index than the Leaf Index.

The relationships revealed by this study can serve as a yardstick to assess how future changes in the timing of spring will impact a broad array of trees and shrubs.

Short-term insect pest forecasts
In 2018, the U.S. National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) released a suite of ‘Pheno Forecast’ map products relevant to science and management. A new paper by Crimmins and colleagues in a special issue of the  Annals of the Entomological Society of America   describes the utility of these products that were developed for 12 species of insect pests for improved decision-making efficiency.

Photo: David Cappaert,
Erin Posthumus
Outreach Coordinator
LoriAnne Barnett
Education Coordinator