Project Budburst: Five years and thriving!

The latest observations submitted to Project Budburst scroll through this box on the website like a ticker tape.

A quick look at the Project BudBurst ‘tickertape’ (right) tells me that in the past week first needles are appearing on Douglas-fir in Oregon City, OR; first flowers have been spotted on flowering dogwood in New Smyrna Beach, FL; sweetgum leaves are starting to unfold in Bakersfield, CA; and the common dandelion is making its appearance throughout the country. This continually updated, ticker-tape-like feature on our home page – Recent Reports – makes it easy to get a sense of what our observers around the country are seeing as many plants start to become active in response to the pending change in seasons. Recent Reports has become my very favorite feature to check out daily. It is rewarding to know that we are part of an active community dedicated to learning more about the stories plants can share with us.

A lot has changed in the five years since Project Budburst got underway. A quick stroll down memory lane is a good reminder that we started with a simple web site, data base, and very limited resources. We did not lack for people who brought a dedicated passion to make Project BudBurst succeed.

So, here we are, with spring 2012 marking our fifth year of full operation. It was not always easy as funding was never a sure thing. Moving to NEON in 2010 was a turning point for Project BudBurst and its community. NEON has provided us with a foundation and has encouraged us to expand to meet the needs of our growing and dedicated community. Best of all, the Project BudBurst data is being used in both scientific and educational applications!

A graduate student and his mentor log an early Project Budburst observation in Boulder, CO. Photo by Carlye Calvin

A graduate student and his mentor log an early Project Budburst observation in Boulder, CO.

In 2012, we’re expanding, with new features such as online courses, a Cherry Blossom Blitz, and an updated mobile app.

Just last month, we opened the first Project BudBurst online course for K-12 and informal educators and have two more offered before June. All online courses are already full. The online courses are part of the new NEON Citizen Science Academy that will be offering five online courses by summer 2012.

If cherry blossoms signal spring for you, check out the new Cherry Blossom blitz. From March 20 – April 30, while people are enjoying the showy flowers, we want them to report what their cherry trees are doing. This campaign is an easy way to get many people involved in citizen science by recording a single, simple observation of a familiar plant. What’s more, many people’s observations of the same plant at the same time in different conditions and locations across the entire country provide an especially useful data set for scientists.

Photo by Ashley Bradford

Your local cherry blossom festival is a fine place to observe plant phenology. Photo by Ashley Bradford

Finally, we’ve been working with UCLA’s Center for Embedded Networked Sensing on the next version of our Android mobile phone app, which is now available. The iPhone app is in development and coming soon. Smartphones support data collection in the field and make it easy for the person on the run to share their observations quickly and accurately.

Happy Birthday to Project BudBurst and the community that makes it possible. This is going to be the best year ever for PBB and its extraordinary community of observers and partners. To get a peek at the folks who are keeping us updated on Douglas-fir in Oregon City; flowering dogwoods in Florida; and dandelions everywhere, check out our new Community Attribution page. Project BudBurst would not be celebrating any birthdays or milestones without the dedication of our committed observers. Thanks to all for making this 5th year possible. I will end this blog with a Haiku for the Project BudBurst Community:

Five years watching plants
Timing of flowers and leaves
Our Community!