Citizen science projects
Record a bird sighting. Help clean up a shoreline. Volunteer alongside scientists and help collect information that helps us better understand the species of our park.
Spend a day with our teams and learn more about our park’s ecosystems and their inhabitants – and the challenges that they face. All of the data collected helps our park scientists to better manage this special place in our changing world.
Whether its taking biological inventories, species monitoring other specific research, there are activities for all ages and abilities!
Volunteers receive free park admission that day. See all our events on the volunteer opportunities page. For more information or to register for any of our projects, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 403-859-5133.
Citizen science projects
Come be a lepidopterist for a day or two! Join butterfly experts and Parks Canada staff to catch, identify and learn about butterflies.
- No experience necessary. Just a willingness to learn about and catch butterflies.
- Be prepared for a full day outside. Bring water and clothing for changeable weather
- If you have them, bring a camera, butterfly net and field guides
- If you are bringing your own butterfly net, before you come be sure that it is completely clean of all debris including seeds.
- Drive to counting locations within Waterton Lakes National Park
- Run and catch butterflies, unharmed, with nets
- Bring butterflies in the net, to count leaders for identification and then, under direction of count leaders, release them unharmed
Third weekend in December
You'll be surprised at how many different birds can be seen in the start of a Waterton winter; from 12 different species if the weather is really bad on to 38 or more in better weather. Oh, and it's just not birds, we also list the mammals and the tracks that we see. Ninety-two different bird species have been recorded here in winter. So there's always the allure of the rare one or two that no other Alberta location gets on their count!
- If a beginner, we will suggest a few common birds to learn, provide tips and suggest a count route
- Ability to identify at least some birds by sight and call. Record sightings and submit data to the count organizer
- Be prepared for a full day outside and able to find you own way in the park
- Well in advance of the count, review the online instructions and sign up for a count route(s) on the online map
- Travel through the selected area of the park looking for birds and mammals
- Record your sightings: species and number of each on count day and/or species seen count week, which is three days before and after count day
- Submit the record sheet in-person or by email within two weeks of the end of count week.
Information on bird watching in the park:
- See our bird watching page.
May training. Summer volunteer schedule
For the outgoing and meticulous, this project combines being a citizen scientist and a habitat hero! It’s all to help the park’s aquatic ecosystems. Eco Ambassadors assist Parks Canada’s Aquatic Guardians with some tasks during the busiest times of the summer season at the park’s most popular recreational waterbodies.
- Enthusiastic about aquatic ecosystems
- Outgoing and friendly, while strictly maintaining physical distancing
- Complete quality visitor experience training (a full day) and project orientation provided virtually by Parks Canada
- Able to sign up for some three-hour shifts during the busy hours of the summer weekends and holidays
- Own cell phone and transportation
- Observe and record watercraft to assist with the park’s survey
- Report illegally-built rock dams to the Aquatic Guardians
- When the opportunity arises, provide friendly information and reminders to visitors about Waterton’s new watercraft regulations, the harmful effects of aquatic invasive species and rock dams, and what visitors can do to help
- Use safety equipment provided and follow safety procedures
First Saturday in May, second Saturday in September
Don’t let wind blow that litter away! Park volunteers team up with Awesome Adventures to scour Waterton’s shorelines for litter at popular lake shores as part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.
It is a citizen science project, too. We count and record the type of trash as we pick it up and send the data to the national coordinator. That data “played a key role” in the federal government’s Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution report, which helped form its October 2020 announcement that six single-use plastic items will be banned by the end of 2021. The data is also used in the park to track trends and inform operations.
- Able to perform repetitive, light physical labour (bending over, picking up)
- Comfortable working along the shoreline at the edge of a lake, including supervising your own children there
- Interested in working in small, physically distanced teams that count and record each piece of litter picked up
- Be Prepared for a half-day outside along the shoreline, including rubber boots and a spare change of socks and pants, just in case
- Hike along shorelines to pick up and bag litter or collect litter from the divers as they bring it out to the shoreline
- Long-handled litter pickers, garbage bags and dish gloves or water resistant gloves provided by the park
Download the free iNaturalist app to your mobile phone and become a self-guided citizen scientist. Record the species (big or small) you see and their location - don't forget to snap a picture too! The data collected helps scientists better understand and protect our environments. This app doesn't require cellular data or wifi, which makes it easy to use in every corner of our park.