How to discover life and involve students and the public in the process

Building on thoughts from a small retreat

11-12 March, 2006
Athens, Georgia

Organized by
The Polistes Foundation

Lonicera japonica
Illustrated by Cheryl Reese

Lonicera japonica Thunberg
Japanese honeysuckle
an invasive species to North America

Updated: 25 March, 2006


At the retreat we considered ways to coordinate biodiversity studies more productively. We focused on several associated but independent research and education initiatives that could employ students and citizen scientists to survey national parks and local areas of interest.

Here we consider possible ways to organize the efforts of the newly formed ATBI Alliance, an outgrowth of the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory in Great Smoky Mountains National Park; the Smithsonian Institution's recent Biodiversity Science and Education Initiative; bioblitz and similar events run by numerous organizations, such as the one planned for New York's Central Park by Ed Wilson and his colleagues; Discover Life in America, which coordinates the study in the Smokies, and Discover Life the website, developed by The Polistes Foundation and its partners to help study and share information about nature.

Retreat participants support working toward a better organizational framework to cross-pollinate and coordinate biodiversity projects. We encourage others to join this dialogue. We recommend using an international foundation to share expertise with schools and citizen scientists to identify species and study nature. Below is a draft mission statement, outline of a showcase project that will develop ways to coordinate activities across efforts, and recommendations on how to proceed. To send feedback or join us, please contact any of the individuals listed below.

Mission statement

The following is a possible joint mission statement to be considered and amended by participants:

Showcase project

We propose to develop a multisite, showcase project to test methods by which participants can learn, work together, and share information. We recommend that this pilot project include the following:

Action items


Name Institution E-mail Phone Since
Peter Alden Nuttall Ornithological Club 978-369-5768 21 March, 2006
Stella Guerrero Cedar Shoals High School 11 March, 2006
Mike Irwin University of Illinois 217-333-1963 11 March, 2006
Dan Kjar Georgetown University 202-687-2424 11 March, 2006
Ashley MacDonald University of Georgia 706-542-6676 11 March, 2006
Albert Meier Western Kentucky University 270-745-6525 11 March, 2006
John Pickering University of Georgia 706-542-1115 11 March, 2006
Dov Sax University of Georgia 706-542-0971 11 March, 2006
Peter White North Carolina Botanical Garden 919-962-6939 12 March, 2006
Ed Wilson Harvard University 617-495-2315 22 March, 2006

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