Become a citizen scientist

2 Apr 2024
3 min read
Volunteer scientists test water purity

In today’s world there’s a lot of information about things that have been going wrong for the environment. From global warming to air pollution, environmental stories aren’t always happy ones unfortunately.

A lot of people are contributing to projects that have the potential to change things.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to be positive about. Whether you care on a national, local or international scale, there are ways you can get involved and mitigate feelings of helplessness and make positive contributions to what’s happening in our world.

British birds - robin


The RSPB run the Big Schools Bird Watch, it’s an amazing initiative which runs from the 8th January to the 19th February annually and it encourages schools and school children to monitor which birds visit their school grounds.

It’s a way of engaging children with the natural environment and while it’s targeted at schools, the good news is there are plenty of other projects you can get involved in as a citizen scientist.

Citizen science projects

The UK centre for ecology and hydrology has a specific page set up with lots of ways you can get involved:

There are apps you can download where you can contribute findings and let scientists know what you’ve seen. From monitoring pollinating species to looking at dunes to monitoring algae blooms and doing butterfly counts.

There are apps where users can upload sewage releases and log water quality too so your inner scientist can come alive by simply downloading a few apps.

Online opportunities

There’s lots of ways you can help the environment here:

From organisations to initiatives you can take part in, don’t be afraid to google things you’re interested in and contact the relevant organisations to see if they have any volunteering opportunities.

Nature volunteers

DEFRA have got an Asian hornet watch app too – they’re an invasive species that don’t belong in this country so there’s some serious work that you can contribute to too.

The work done by volunteers is incredibly important too and has a huge impact too.

People making a change

Last year, around 16,000 volunteers helped to digitise 5.2 million weather observations from the early 1900s in just 16 days. The volunteers digitally transcribed 130 years of handwritten rainfall observations meaning the Met Office records were able to go back a further 26 years to 1836.

Spring Water Watch is another initiative encouraging people to spend 15 minutes watching their local waterway and recording pollution, water quality and wildlife:

The Wildlife Trust is another great resource to look at if you want to volunteer and donate some time to helping the natural world.

They have both national and regional monitoring programs that rely entirely on volunteers to make them work: From national shoreline monitoring to regional reptile, hedgehog and mammal tracking programs.

The British Ecological Society has a page dedicated to citizen science projects too – both ones you can take part in and international ones you can learn about that are changing the way nature is recorded across the globe.

It’s easy to feel disconnected with nature and helping the planet sometimes.

Make your voice heard

We often hear words like climate change next to words like big oil. We think corporations and governments are the only ones who can potentially make seismic changes and sign accords to limit the impacts of living in a warming world with huge global emissions, but the fact is, a lot of people are contributing to projects that have the potential to change things.

If you have the time, becoming a citizen scientist can be hugely empowering. And the big opportunity is to vote for leaders who fully support climate action and tell your friends and family why that is so important.


The information in this article was correct at the time of writing and is provided for guidance only. Please see the full disclaimer in our terms and conditions.

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