I love Daily Post education reporter Frank Reddy's blog, "Frank's Place." In his last blog, I learned more than I could ever want to know about yellow-bellied sapsuckers. In fact, before I read his blog, I didn't even know there was such a bird. I thought it was just a nasty name Gabby Hayes hurled at bank robbers in Roy Rogers movies way back when actors weren't allowed to use real cuss words.
But what interested me even more were the links Reddy included, like the website www.allaboutbirds.org posted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It lists about a dozen citizen science projects anyone can participate in, like a real scientist doing real research. OK, so you don't get paid for it like a real scientist would. But my master's degree in science and math education, which never landed me a job, does keep my appetite whetted for science and statistics.
The categories include various projects like Celebrate Urban Birds, Pigeon Watch and Breeding Bird Atlases. For real pros, there is even a category called Cam Clickr for people with nest cameras which has brought in over 600,000 images. But the coolest project of all is the Great Backyard Bird Count which runs from Feb. 15-18. All you have to do is create an account and for at least one of those days count birds in your backyard for at least 15 minutes. That's it! That's all it takes to be a scientist -- and a statistician.
See, I was thinking about Gwinnett County statistics and how for 10 years straight we ranked first worldwide for raising money for Relay for Life. And how every year Gwinnett Parks and Recreation brings in a top nationwide prize in at least one category. We can be proud that the Boy Scouts Northeast Georgia Council, which serves Gwinnett County, is the only council in America to be recognized as a Quality Council for 28 consecutive years and that as of BSA's Centennial year of 2010, Gwinnett produced more Eagle scouts than any other place in the world. Those stats are hard to keep up with, but I was happy to read Caitlin Hutchinson's recent Daily Post story about Brian Dalrymple, Gwinnett's newest Eagle Scout, helping us to stay at the head of the pack.
The above mentioned took lots of work and dedication, but we also claim some no-brainer accolades like the Gwinnett County Public Library winning the Books for Dummies contest in 2011 just from having their patrons click on the Dummies Web site.
So here's where I'm going with this. Gwinnett County has a population of about 800,000. If only one percent of us participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, that would be 8,000 people logging in to this study, which would probably make Cornell University sit up and take notice. Teachers? Scouts? Bird watchers? Think we can make this fly?
Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.