Thursday, January 19, 2017

U.N. Hears From Nature Abounds President On Volunteer Citizen Science Programs

Melinda Hughes, president of Clearfield County-based Nature Abounds, made a presentation at the United Nations European Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on incorporating volunteers into citizen science programs.
She spoke as a presenter to conference participants from all over the globe on December 14.
Citizen Science is the term used for when volunteer help is used to aid scientists collect data to be used in analyzing various environmental indicators such as pollution and climate change.
Hughes has managed volunteer initiatives for over 20 years and has been involved with citizen science programs since 1999. Among the citizen science programs she has managed and developed are FrogWatch USA and the PA Senior Environment Corps.
The PA Senior Environment Corps was recognized by the United Nations Environment Programme in 1999 on its Global 500 Honour Roll for the program’s contribution to protecting the environment, joining the work of individuals like Jacques Cousteau and Jane Goodall.
The PA Senior Environment Corps was originally founded in 1997 with support by DEP and other partners.  
On its 10th anniversary, the Corps had over 2,900 volunteers across the state who regularly sampled water quality at over 628 sites across the state, mentored students on environmental issues and undertook dozens of local environmental projects in 52 counties contributing over 37,400 volunteer hours annually.
Gov. Rendell ended funding for the program in 2007 even though the program was established in law on 2004.  The program was reborn with support from DEP during the Corbett Administration and Nature Abounds.
Since cofounding Nature Abounds in 2008, Hughes has also created and managed two signature citizen-science opportunities-- Watch the Wild and IceWatch USA, with the latter now with sister programs in Canada and Germany.  
In addition to presenting in Geneva about citizen-science, Hughes has also presented on the subject at conferences in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Washington DC, Oregon, and Colorado and works with others in the field from across the United States and around the globe.
While in Geneva, she also toured CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and home to the particle collider where physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe.
Click Here to read Hughes’ blog entry on her presentation and trip to Switzerland.
For information, visit the PA Senior Environment Corps webpage, Click Here to watch a video about the Center in the Park Senior Environment Corps in Philadelphia and Click Here and Click Here to watch videos about the Corps and how it makes an impact.
Hughes holds a Bachelor's Degree in Communications from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Masters of Environmental Law and Policy from the Vermont Law School.  She resides in the DuBois, Pennsylvania area.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Nature Abounds website.

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