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Outreach Tip of the Month – Self-Motivated Projects

If you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.  -David Viscott

If you’re having a hard time coordinating a project with an organization, or are feeling nervous about getting in front of a crowd to speak, there are still lots of outreach projects for you to work on!  Sometimes being your own leader can inspire you to lead others – so try a self-motivated project, like a plant collection, photography portfolio, or nature journaling project to get your inspiration flowing.

Another great example of a self-determined outreach project…that is also a national “group” project…is the annual Great Backyard Bird Count!  You can participate by yourself, or get together a group of friends, to hang out in your own backyard with some binoculars, identifying and counting birds.  To participate, you count the birds you see in a minimum of 15 minutes (or as long as you want) during the designated timeframe – the next Count is the 20th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, and will be held February 15th-18th, 2019.

You can submit photos for their annual photo contest and much more – check out the official website here:  http://gbbc.birdcount.org/

For more details and specifics, check out the National Audubon Society’s informational page here: https://www.audubon.org/content/about-great-backyard-bird-count

There’s also an amazing bird ID app called Merlin to help you ID those birds – it’s put out by the Cornell Lab.  For more info about the app, click here!

If you want to count birds anywhere, anytime, and still record them for an outreach project, you can use eBird, a real time, online birding checklist program, where you can record the birds you see and identify, and upload them to the website to document your discoveries.  Submitting your entries not only earns you outreach points (for the time you spend observing/identifying birds), but also broadens the web of information scientists can use to help understand birds’ migrational patterns, feeding trends, and more!  Check out eBird here: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/about/

Even if you are not a birder, there are lots of ways you can get out there and find a self-motivated project to work on: you could sketch the wildlife you see on a camping trip, write a letter to your local legislator, or write and submit an article about your experience at WLA to your local newspaper.  Other examples might be submitting a blog post for the NextGen blog (click here for the submission form), putting up an unmanned trifold display in your science classroom or local library, sending me some nature photos to post to our Facebook page, or creating a new trifold display for other unmanned trifold presentations – use your imagination as your inspiration, and don’t be afraid to get creative!