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2011-01-06

GVTC supports data collection for CNC 'citizen scientists'

Contributed

Scientists working with the Cibolo Nature Center will soon have a tremendous boost in their capacity to upload and analyze scientific data, thanks to the state-of-the art Internet connection donated to the nonprofit conservation education group by GVTC Communications.
In 2008, GVTC extended its fiber optic network to the Cibolo Nature Center. As a result, the organization is connected with the fastest Internet speeds available in South Texas, allowing CNC personnel to download and upload vast amounts of scientific data efficiently through its growing Citizen Science program.
GVTC covered the $50,000 cost to build and connect Cibolo Nature Center with its fiber network. The communications company also provides the center free Internet, cable television, telephone and security monitoring valued at $6,000 annually.
"Volunteer citizen scientists are at the core of our research efforts," said Ben Eldredge, CNC's director of adult education and the Citizen Science program. "We have a small staff and simply could not conduct the amount of research that we do without these volunteers."
Citizen scientists collect and record data on wildlife populations and their movements, working under the guidance of the Cibolo Nature Center Research Group and in cooperation with Texas Parks & Wildlife, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Texas Forest Service and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
"Our research program provides environmental survey techniques to citizen scientists who collect ecological data and store it with the Cibolo Nature Center," Eldredge said. "This data is used to assess land-management practices and their impacts on biological diversity. Our survey techniques are also useful to local landowners who want to conduct their own surveys."
He added, "Our goal is to share the most effective land-management techniques with local landowners, urban planners and members of the public who want to protect wildlife habitat."
Once the data storage system is up and running, citizen scientists, landowners and conservation partners will be able to easily and quickly upload data from wildlife surveys and use the system to analyze the data.
CNC volunteer citizen scientists participate in ongoing and seasonal wildlife studies. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Eldredge at 830-249-4616 or ben@cibolo.org or to visit www.cibolo.org


Pictured: Cibolo Nature Center volunteer citizen scientists Jane McAuliffe, left, and Julie Troilo enter scientific data into the CNC's database.

Photo courtesy of Cibolo Nature Center