BudBurst at the Refuges for Staff and Volunteers

Patuxent Staff Photo

The BudBurst at the Refuges program was developed for you – Refuge Staff and Volunteers. The roots of the program grew through conversations with hundreds of Refuge biologists, botanists, and volunteers at the National Conservation Training Center, the Friends Academy, Regional Meetings, and the Envisioning the Future Conference. Below you will find some questions and answers to help you get going and learn about how to participate in this natural partnership, either as an individual contributor or through our BudBurst Refuge Partner program.

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

Q. I am a staff/volunteer scientist at a Refuge. Why should I participate in Project BudBurst?

To illustrate to your community the interdependence of Refuge wildlife and plants and raise awareness of the importance of plants to your Refuge

As a staff/volunteer scientist, you know that the wildlife at any Refuge would not exist without the plants on which they depend. But this concept is not always apparent to general users of the Refuge. You can use Project BudBurst as a tool to illustrate how wildlife and plants are connected.

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 at the Refuge. 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 volunteering for other Refuge projects as well.

Q. I am a staff/volunteer educator/outreach specialist/interpreter at a Refuge. Why should I participate in Project BudBurst?

To help you engage visitors…

The BudBurst at the Refuges program is a great way to help visitors become aware of key plants at your Refuge. These may be plants that are of particular importance to the wildlife of your Refuge or plants that are unique to your area. BudBurst at the Refuges is also a great way to encourage visitors to make return visits and perhaps encourage more participation in your Friends group. 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 at your Refuge and encourage your visitors to make observations of those species while on the tour. BudBurst at the Refuges appeals to visitors of all ages by providing self-guided, hands-on activities for Refuge visitors to learn about the impact of changing climates on plants.

Key Deer Photo

To help you engage teachers and their students…

As an education and outreach program, Project BudBurst was designed to help educators and their students reach educational objectives and outcomes. Students can use Project BudBurst protocols to develop their own inquiry based investigations. All of the activities on the Project 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 interaction, 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 PBB in their classroom at budburst@chicagobotanic.org.

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 plant multiple times throughout the season to see how they are doing. Or, if the family is just passing through on a road trip, they can use Single Report forms to make observations of plants while on a Driving Tour of your Refuge. 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 Refuge 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 at your Refuge is just a matter of minutes. Becoming a BudBurst Refuge 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 Refuge involved as a partner and helps others incorporate it into their Refuge activities.

Q. Is there a cost?

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

Stone Lakes Staff Photo

Q. Does my Refuge 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 Refuge 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. Do I have to be at a Refuge to participate? Can I also participate at home?

No, you do not have to be at a Refuge to participate and 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. How does Project BudBurst work with the USA-National Phenology Network (USA-NPN)?

Project BudBurst and Nature's Notebook are both part of the broader USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN), and they operate as complementary programs, enthusiastically 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 BudBurst at the Refuges 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 like to make a valuable contribution to our understanding of climate change through simple observations. 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 PBB mobile phone app?

This is a great tool to use as many of your visitors have access to smart phones. Learn more about our app for use with Android smartphones.

Photos courtesy of Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge (top), Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge (middle), and Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (bottom)