It was my great honor this last fall to attend a conference in Austria about citizen science, in which the participants explored current citizen science programs involving the Konrad Lorenz Research Station.
The beauty of the Austrian Alps was our backdrop as we delved into what makes a great program for citizen scientists. The workshop, organized by the University of Vienna, had a huge variety of people from many fields, but I was the only person from the United States and the sole person involved in an arts organization. The organizers chose a diverse bunch of folks from many backgrounds, which sparked new inventive ideas as we worked together.
One of the things I am most inspired by is the unification of art and science. Artists and scientists are both great observers of the planet, asking questions and recording the beauty and oddities of our world.
One day we went to the nearby game park; it was there that I first met the famous Greylag Geese. Meeting the geese felt like I was meeting these rock stars of science, the same flock of 200 descended from Konrad Lorenz’s original flock
; With these geese he studied pair bonds and the imprinting that happens when a gosling hatches from an egg. At the park, I sat to draw the geese as they soaked in the sun in the morning light. Drawing them helped me really see them.
The experience inspired me to draw the land around me, and to also plan how I might bring home a citizen science project. As with any travel, one grows exponentially, but this trip inspired me to help my community observe with the eyes of artists and scientists. Thanks to some dynamic geese and some great Austrian scientists, I will soon begin a community project cataloguing species using observational art. I hope to help others see our Maine wildlife, as I saw the geese that morning in the October sunlight. Stay tuned!
Serena Sanborn, is the Education and Outreach Coordinator of Waterville Creates!