#CitSciNZ: The Citizen Science Association of Aotearoa NZ turns 3!

Introductory catch ups at the beginning of each meeting remain an important feature. These not only strengthen our internal network but keeps everyone abreast of what activities are underway/planned as well as potential opportunities for collaborating on new cit sci initiatives.  

We’re now 3 years old and our 8-member committee continues to represent a cross-section of citizen science doers, movers, shakers and thinkers across the country. We’re based at universities, government agencies, run our own consultancies and work for community-led organisations. Our combined projects involve a diverse range of people: school children and their teachers, community volunteers, tangata whenua, farmers and landowners in urban and rural settings. Each of our (mostly) monthly meetings starts with a round up of who is doing what. This strengthens our network – many, many ideas are sparked through making connections.

CSAANZ was established in 2019 to provide grassroots leadership for citizen science in Aotearoa. We are part of an international network of Cit Sci Associations spanning Europe (with individual country organisations e.g., in Austria and Denmark), USA, Asia and Australia. It’s a dynamic space and many more associations are evolving in other countries around the world. Growing a not-for profit community organisation with a group of volunteers takes time, but over the last year we’ve made some impressive progress. Reflecting back to 2018, one of the main gaps identified during a national Cit Sci symposium was to develop a ‘Citizen science working group’ and to develop an ‘information hub’. Establishing CSAANZ as community-led charitable trust opens further opportunities (e.g., for seeking operational funding and resources to run events), while our new website will grow toward filling the info hub function.

What we achieved in 2021 – 2022

Like any organization, we’ve had to spend time building up our infrastructure. This means tackling the basics like setting up a bank account, and developing important policies to guide e.g., how we use images with people in them and personal information gathered from the membership form. The latter gives new members an opportunity to help build a CSAANZ skills register which goes toward cementing the organization as a hub for cit sci projects, resources and practitioners around Aotearoa.

Our website www.citsci.nz is up and running and provides information on projects, resources and membership. It includes a White Paper which is a snapshot of how we currently understand citizen science in Aotearoa, summarises what’s happening in this space, and maps a pathway forward for CSAANZ as a citizen science leader in Aotearoa. Committee member Sally Carson from the Portabello Marine Lab on the Otago Peninsula (University of Otago) contributed the first of what will be a series of guest blogs highlighting cit sci projects and other initiatives. The post describes Shark Spy, funded through the Participatory Science Platform. To facilitate finding posts, a series of tags have been developed – these are integral to a tag cloud, a visual feature that will showcase the diversity of blog post themes. 

CSAANZ Foundations, Pathways and Outcomes, 2022 – 2027

The first of our quarterly newsletters has been posted out to our extensive networks. It’s very comprehensive covering membership and how to join, the internship position, a run-down on the White Paper, our featured cit sci project and of course, how to get in touch with us. We’ve also developed a funding proposal for a part time coordinator, acknowledging the need for a paid position within CSAANZ to deliver core networking functions in keeping with our kaupapa e.g., key communication and workshop/events coordination. At the same time, we’ve put a list of tasks together for an internship to share the administrative and communications activities so the executive can focus on moving CSAANZ forward (e.g., …writing further funding proposals). 

Where to from here?

It’s easy to make a giant wish list! Given we don’t have a big team of staff we’ve summarised our priorities for the next year as:

  • strengthening CSAANZ infrastructure and capacity 
  • growing membership and outreach activities
  • developing a further funding proposal to support a skilled intern 
  • enhancing networking opportunities. At this stage these could be online or if there is enough support, in-person events

For further information and to become a member, get in touch with citscinz@gmail.com

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