BudBurst at the Forests and Grasslands for Staff and Volunteers

USFS Staff & VolunteersThe BudBurst at the Forests and Grasslands program was developed for you – Forest Service Staff and Volunteers.

Following in the footsteps of our successful BudBurst at the Refuges program, BudBurst at the Forests and Grasslands was designed to provide staff, volunteers, and visitors with tools to observe and engage in the collection of plant phenological data at National Forests and Grasslands. 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 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 National Forest or Grassland. Why should I participate in Project BudBurst?

To demonstrate to your community how plants make your National Forest or Grassland a unique national treasure for them to experience
As someone who studies the science at a National Forest or Grassland, you are acutely aware of the unique features it contains. BudBurst at the Forests and Grasslands provides you with an opportunity to share with visitors the unique botanical features of your Forest or Grassland, which may be shaped by unique geology and/or play a role in the unique wildlife there.

To demonstrate to your community the interdependence of wildlife and plants and raise awareness of the importance of plants to your Forest or Grassland 
As a staff/volunteer scientist, you know that wildlife would not exist without the plants on which they depend. But this concept is not always apparent to general users and visitors. 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
You are probably already collecting data about plants at your Forest or Grassland for your management, research, and inventory projects. You can tailor or target Project BudBurst observations to plants of interest to your research goals. You can also access the national Project BudBurst data set and use it for your own research. A great example is the use of Project BudBurst cherry blossom data by Chung et al. 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 projects as well.

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

To help you engage visitors…
The BudBurst at the National Forest or Grassland program is a great way to help visitors become aware of key plants at your Forest or Grassland. These may be plants that are of particular importance to the wildlife or plants that are unique to your area. BudBurst at the National Forest or Grassland 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 Forest or Grassland and encourage your visitors to make observations of those plants while on the tour. BudBurst at the National Forest or Grassland appeals to visitors of all ages by providing self-guided, hands-on activities for them to learn about the impact of changing climates on plants.

Young vistorsTo help you engage teachers and their students…
As an education and outreach program, Project BudBurst was designed to help educators such as you, and your 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 Project BudBurst 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're 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 Forest or Grassland. 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 Forest or Grassland 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 BudBurst National Forest or Grassland 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 Forest or Grassland involved as a partner and help others incorporate it into their activities.

Q. Is there a cost?

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

Q. Does my Forest or Grassland have to be a partner for me to participate?

USFS staff observing plantsNo, 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 Forest or Grassland 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 Forest or Grassland to participate? Can I also participate at home?

No, you do not have to be at a Forest or Grassland 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. We have a phenology garden at our Forest or Grassland. How can we incorporate it into BudBurst at the National Forest or Grassland?

If you have a phenology garden at your Forest or Grassland, you may wish to designate some or all species in the garden as your 10 species 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, 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 National Forests and Grasslands 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.


Photos courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service.