Community BudBurst for Staff and Volunteers

Lake Katherine Group
Photo courtesy of Lake Katherine Nature Center, Illinois

Community BudBurst was developed to meet the needs of individual organizations that want to engage their visitors, staff, and volunteers in a national citizen science program about plant phenology. Community BudBurst partners, receive customized resources about 10 plants of interest to their organization. Staff, educators, volunteers or visitors then use these customized resources to track the phenology of plants at a particular location(s) or around a town, city, or region.

You can use your Project BudBurst materials as a staff member, educator, or volunteer to engage families, students, or adult visitors in plant phenology, to provide a citizen science opportunity through your organization, to engage visitors in understanding climate change, and much, much more.

Below you will find some questions and answers to help you better understand how to participate in Project BudBurst, either as an individual contributor or through our Community BudBurst partner program.

Do you have a question not on our list? Send us an email at and we'll be happy to answer it for you!

Q. I am a staff/volunteer scientist. How can I utilize Project BudBurst?

To supplement the data you collect for your inventory, monitoring, research and management projects
Scientists can tailor or target Project BudBurst observations to plants of interest to their research goals. For example, Dr. Richard Primack of Boston University developed the New England Leaf Out Project (NELOP) to track the first leaf dates for 11 deciduous tree species in New England. NELOP worked with Project BudBurst to develop a partner page so that Project BudBurst participants could be encouraged to help collect data about these trees to assist the lab with their research. You can also access the national Project BudBurst data set and use it for your own research. If you recruit or train volunteers to assist you with your research pursuits through Project BudBurst, your participants may also become interested in other research projects you conduct as well.

Q.I am a staff/volunteer educator/outreach specialist/interpreter. How can I utilize Project BudBurst?

To help you engage visitors…
Community BudBurst is a great way to help visitors become aware of key plants for your organization. These may be plants that are of particular importance to wildlife or plants that are unique to your area. Community BudBurst is also a great way to encourage visitors to make return visits and perhaps encourage more participation in your organizations activities. If you are giving a talk or walking tour to a group of visitors, consider passing out Single Report forms for a few of the plants of interest and encourage your visitors to make observations of those plants while on the tour.

Jefferson County Parks Trails
Photo courtesy of Jefferson County Parks, Colorado

To help you engage teachers and their students…
Project BudBurst was designed to help educators and their students reach educational objectives and outcomes. Students can also use Project BudBurst protocols to develop their own inquiry based investigations. All of the activities on theProject BudBurst educator pages are aligned with national education standards (science, math, and geography). Project BudBurst focuses on making scientific observations and we provide content on plant life cycles, ecosystem interactions, phenology and climate change. By participating in Project BudBurst, students are part of a continental scale ecology research effort where scientists are using their data. Students can also access Project BudBurst data from their My BudBurst page to do their own analysis. We invite educators to share their stories of Project BudBurst in their classroom at

To help you engage families…
From Regular Reports to Single Reports to our BudBurst Buddies program, there is something for everyone with Project BudBurst. Parents and kids can choose plants to monitor together and visit their plants multiple times throughout the season to see what they are doing. Or, if the family is just passing through, they can use Single Report forms to make observations of plants while walking around your location. Participation in Project BudBurst is a fun way to get families engaged with the plant world around them.

Q. What kind of time commitment does it take to participate?

You and your organization can be involved in Project BudBurst as much or as little as you wish. The amount of time it takes for you to make a Single Report of a plant is just a matter of minutes. Becoming a Community BudBurst Partner takes a bit more time and is a great program to incorporate into your outreach and research programs. You may even be the person who gets your organization involved as a partner and helps others incorporate it into their activities.

Q. Is there a cost?

There is no monetary cost to become a Community BudBurst partner. A little time invested by your staff or volunteers at whatever level works for your organization, is all it takes to get started.

RMNP Volunteer
Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Q. Does my organization have to be a partner for me to participate?

No, you can make observations of plants and submit them to Project BudBurst on your own using any of our existing resources. We certainly hope your organization can be a partner and take advantage of all of the wonderful resources being a partner has to offer, but even if partnership isn't an option, you can still participate.

Q. Can I also participate at home?

Yes, you can participate at home, at work, in the schoolyard, at your local botanic garden, on vacation, or wherever you find plants of interest.

Q. We have a phenology garden. How can we incorporate it into Project BudBurst?

If you have a phenology garden, you may wish to designate some or all plants in the garden as your 10 plants of interest. You can provide staff, volunteers, or visitors with Project BudBurst observation forms and direct them to the garden to make observations. Volunteers may choose to monitor one or more plants throughout the season using our Regular Reports protocol, while visitors can use our Single Reports protocol to observe what is happening on the day they visit. Learn more about Regular and Single Reports

Q. How does Project BudBurst work with the USA-National Phenology Network (USA-NPN)?

Project BudBurst is part of the broader USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) and they operate as complementary programs, supporting each other's efforts. The programs are both Internet-based and have complementary protocols that appeal to different audiences, maximizing participation and increasing awareness of the importance of phenology across the nation. We are exploring ways to share data collected through Project BudBurst to the databases maintained by the USA National Phenology Network to maximize the use and application of phenology data collected through these two programs.

Q. How can Project BudBurst help our climate education programs?

It is often difficult to find ways of making climate change a personal experience. Project BudBurst makes climate change more tangible and empowers individuals from all walks of life to make a valuable contribution to our understanding of climate change through observations of plants. Project BudBurst allows everyone the opportunity to observe the timing of plant events such as leafing, flowering, and fruiting and provides them with a tool to observe how the timing of those events can change over the years.

Q. How do we use the Project BudBurst mobile phone app?

The Project BudBurst mobile phone app is a great tool to use if your visitors have access to smart phones. Learn more about our app for use with Android smartphones.