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Citizen Science

daily weather mapIllustration: A daily weather map, compiled from telegraph reports from citizen scientists, is displayed in the Great Hall of the Smithsonian Institution Building or Castle (1858).

Since its founding, the Smithsonian has relied on the curiosity, enthusiasm, and dedication of citizen scientists.

From James Smithson’s explorations as a “Gentleman-Chemist” and Joseph Henry’s weather telegraphy to 21st century projects such as the Encyclopedia of Life, the Smithsonian is engaged with citizens of the world in increasing human knowledge.

Learn more about what you can do to help.

Neighborhood Nest Watch

Be a biologist in your own backyard! Neighborhood Nest Watch participants help answer questions related to the survival of bird populations.

Find out more about the Nest Watch Program »

Smithsonian Transcription Center

Make Smithsonian scientific collections more accessible for researchers around the globe by transcribing historic records in botany, entomology, and astrophysics.

Find out how you can volunteer »


Place “camera traps” in your community to assist researchers in answering questions about mammal distribution and abundance.

Learn how you can participate »

Global Amphibian Bioblitz

Share your photos of wild amphibians with other citizen scientists as part of the Global Amphibian Bioblitz. Smithsonian scientists, herpetologists, and naturalists around the world are working with to document the distribution and conservation status of every known amphibian species and we need your help!

Sign up as a member of iNaturalist »


Young citizen scientists increase observation skills by intensively examining an area of one cubic foot.

How much life can you find? »


Use this electronic field guide to learn about tree species and contribute to biodiversity research.

Learn more about the Leafsnap app »

Encyclopedia of Life (EOL)

Become an EOL community member and share your biological data, photos, observations, and questions with the world.

Lend your expertise »

Virginia Working Landscapes

Virginia Working Landscapes (VWL) is a program of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute that promotes conservation of native biodiversity and sustainable use of working lands through research, education, and community engagement. Each year we train citizen scientists to monitor wildlife (birds, plants, pollinators, salamanders, mammals) throughout 15 counties in Northern Virginia.

Learn about becoming a VWL citizen scientist »