Training Citizen Scientists: Bioblitz for Loretto Schools Service Week

New Pioneers was thrilled to partner with the Loretto Community to facilitate a half day bioblitz program during their Loretto Schools Service Week in early June 2024. Student representatives and educator chaperones from Nerinx Hall (St. Louis, MO), Loretto Academy (El Paso, TX), and St. Mary’s Academy (Denver, CO) spent one full week engaging in service and learning about the Loretto Community at their Motherhouse - and part of their time was dedicated to continuing the tradition of conducting a bioblitz program on the Loretto Motherhouse property alongside New Pioneers.

This year, New Pioneers’ Executive Director, Julia, facilitated the program with the support of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, and focused bioblitz efforts on the area of Badin Pond and the nearby pollinator fields.

For those unfamiliar, a bioblitz program is a citizen science experience in which a group of people explores a specified area, seeking to track and record all species in that area within a certain time frame. The Loretto bioblitz was so impactful, in part, because bioblitz programs have happened in the same area with similar groups for the past few years, allowing the Loretto Community to monitor species biodiversity over time. This program is called a “citizen science” experience because it brings normal, untrained citizens to the forefront of scientific monitoring so that more data can be collected and recorded.

Of the experience, one chaperone shared: “We were able to identify a lot of different insects, plants, species, and aquatic species. We were tracking them, and I believe that tracking them will allow us to see a change over time”. One learner shared: “We really enjoyed it because we got to be one with God’s creation and appreciate all of its beauty … It was really nice to catch butterflies in the pollinator fields, [to] find turtles in the pond.”, and one learner summed up the experience by sharing:

“I think [that] this project was really important, and it was super fun … It taught us more about what we can do in nature. Climate change is a big thing right now, and this taught us how we can take care of our Earth.”

Many thanks to the Loretto Community for partnering with us to lead this meaningful and impactful project!

Thanks to our generous partners!

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