Keep Quiet and Observe

Eaten Pine Cone

This is a pine cone which has been eaten by a squirrel. This a sign that a squirrel lives in the area.

Whether you are searching for invasive garlic mustard or looking out for squirrels, or participating in any other citizen science project the ability to stick to your task and stay focused is important. For those of you who are unfamiliar with citizen science projects, citizen science is an opportunity for anyone from amateur to professionals to participate in various  science projects. These projects include finding plants and animals, venturing into the forest, or just staying in your backyard. Dodging poison ivy, and odd mushrooms. Along with the skill of staying quiet and keeping your volume at a minimum. All these are skill which are important to finding plants and wildlife in the forest. These are skills that I didn’t learn until I came back from the forest not being able to complete my task.

I started my citizen science project looking for the invasive plant: Garlic Mustard. According to the Global Garlic Mustard Field Survey garlic mustard is considered a weed because it grows at an alarming rate and disrupts the nutrient balance in the forest by using up nutrients that could go to the native plants. At first we had learned things about garlic mustard including their shape, color, and size. Once we could identify the plant, finding it was easy. On our second day of trying this project out we learned that this project required us to come back in the summer and continue our project. I was almost sure that no one in my group wanted to come back to campus in the middle of summer so we chose another project.

Squirrel Nest

This is a squirrel nest on campus. Another good way to locate wildlife would be to find their unique nests.

After finding out we couldn’t do the garlic mustard watch we chose to do a project called Project Squirrel. The goal of this project was to find and identify squirrel species which would help researchers understand why species live together in some areas and are alone in other areas. We inspected many areas around campus including Washtenaw Community College’s hardwood and pinewood forests while trying to take notes. However, because of our loud behavior, any animal around left immediately. From this I learned that rushing out into the forest was not a good idea if you don’t know what to look for.

There were many things I learned from making mistakes in our projects which from now on will help me complete my task and find squirrels. Some of which include keeping quiet, having patience, and knowing what to look for. Now with project squirrel I will find a good spot in the forest and just wait for animals to come while taking notes. This is a new experience for me and I think I will do better now that I have gained knowledge.


“Global Garlic Mustard Field Survey.” Global Garlic Mustard Field Survey. Global Invasions Network, n.d. Web. 20 June 2014.

“Home | Project Squirrel.” Project Squirrel. University of Illinois Chicago, n.d. Web. 20 June 2014.








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