the ACS. She noted that Nancy Blount, who was in attendance, taught her how to be a PR chair.

Conrad explained that her background had nothing to do with citizen science originally. She started working with a small community, and the people had more questions than she could answer. She realized that they needed a support network of people to tap into and she helped create the network. That interaction completely altered the research she was doing. She said she shifted from being an “effluvial morphologist” to doing the community-based monitoring work.

Science Cheerleader

Workshop participant Neil Gussman mentioned the citizen science effort Science Cheerleader.12 He said the effort was created by Darlene Cavalier, a former Philadelphia 76ers’ cheerleader, who is now involved with many citizen science groups.

Changes in Parent Attitudes

Mike Rogers asked the speakers how the attitudes of parents toward science have changed over time and what the activities are that interest students the most.

Woodall said that in the 19 years that she has been involved in outreach, she has noticed that more and more parents are becoming appreciative of the outreach activities the local sections offer. Parents, as well as students, are beginning to tie the outreach activities they do into the curriculum at school.

“When we started, there wasn’t as much chemistry being taught, and it wasn’t as relevant, it wouldn’t be as relevant as it is in the curriculum now. So I think over a period of time, our outreach efforts are being tied in more with the curriculum at school, and the kids are seeing more of it at school, and what we are doing is helping more in the classroom than it ever has before,” Woodall added.

Rogers added that his impression is that there is a lot of interest from parents, “Even sometimes if the students aren’t interested, the parents—and I think more today than they might have been in years past—there is a genuine interest there.”

Woodall said she thinks that “one of the reasons that parents are becoming more interested now is because they are seeing that they are going to have to push their children into careers now even more than ever before. They see that need more than ever, and they are going to have to push their children earlier. They are getting out there and getting more active with their children.”

Youth Involvement

Andrea Twiss-Brooks, University of Chicago, asked Conrad if there are youth groups or children involved in any of her community monitoring efforts. She noted that she saw mostly adults in Conrad’s talk. She said she knew of groups in the United States that use youth groups and students for simpler biological or environmental monitoring.

Conrad replied that the pictures she showed did not represent all the volunteers she works with. She said that although the majority of groups she works with are typically 18 or 19 years old and older, the network does have a program working with school groups, as well as summer camps.


12For more information, see the Science Cheerleader website at (accessed April 13, 2011).

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement