Giving Back through Citizen Science

Remember those days of university when you joined outside groups to pad your resume with activities to become more well-rounded? You were practicing giving back because you were investing yourself in those non-work activities. But now that you have that job, and perhaps family and probably working to move to the next level, it is important not to let those activities drop, but continue to find ways to give back to your community and world.

You don’t need to wait until you’ve “made it” to practice this. By maintaining a balance and giving back all the way through your career, you’ll find that your life has more purpose and that it provides a balance even while pursuing that next career position and acquiring and saving for your future.

But what if you don’t have much time? Is it possible to still give back in a meaningful way? The answer is of course and one way I’ve found to do this is through the concept often called Citizen Science. This is the opportunity to collect and provide data to a network which can then be aggregated into powerful databases of information which can provide valuable information for researchers and others.

The simple way I do this is through a program called the CoCoRaHS network, which stands for Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow network. This program allows me to record and report precipitation and only involves about 5 minutes of my day on my way to work in the morning. While collecting one data point each day is interesting for me to tell how much rain or snow we received, adding up to 10,000+ data points each day becomes really powerful data. Information at this level is used by the National Weather Service, other meteorologists, hydrologists, emergency managers, city utilities (water supply, water conservation, storm water), insurance adjusters, USDA and more so the information really does have value.

While weather is my own interest, you may have other interests such as space and intelligent life (SETI@Home), cancer research (CancerResearchUK), or perhaps developing an application to assist workers after a disaster. Regardless of your choice, make it something that is personal to you, but don’t forget to give back. It doesn’t take much, and it will help balance all those other work-related activities

Posted in Science.