AUG 01, 2017 4:52 PM PDT

Adventurers turned scientists collect crucial environmental data

Have you explored the great outdoors recently? Hopefully you just nodded, and hopefully you enjoyed your time being one with nature. If you did, you probably care about protecting our environments and perhaps you wish you could do more, other than recycling and hanging your laundry and taking short showers. Well, here’s your opportunity.

Adventure Scientists is an organization that provides a critical solution to a big problem: getting more data from hard-to-reach places. If you like traveling to remote corners of the world, you could team up with scientists and researchers to help gather and provide key data and samples that can spur conservation research. Founded by Gregg Treinish, an avid outdoor explorer himself, the organization has already matched more than a thousand adventure volunteers with over a hundred scientific organizations. In 2016, adventurers donated over 28,000 days in the field collecting data.

Gregg Treinish in the field  Photo: NG Creative

National Geographic chronicles some of the projects that adventurer volunteers worked on: “Mountain climbers discovered Earth’s highest known plant life on Mount Everest, bringing back samples that researchers are using to help farmers grow crops in extreme conditions. Kayakers sampled waters north of Seattle for harmful algal blooms. Continental Divide Trail thru-hikers collected grizzly bear DNA to help researchers understand how the animals move between protected areas. Hundreds of roadkill observations from bikers identified hotspots of risk for animals. Hikers collected data on pikas, a key indicator species for climate change, and helped scientists learn about the Olympic Peninsula's pine martens, whose numbers have plummeted in recent years. An adventurer making first descents in remote Hawaiian canyons helped a biologist search for new plant species. Rowers returned from the Arctic Ocean bearing plankton samples. Skiers checked glaciers for ice worms to better understand how organisms survive in unforgiving environments.”

The idea for this bridge of scientific and outdoor communities came from Treinish’s own experience. “While being able to live my double passion for the outdoors and biology was fulfilling, I also felt a desire and obligation to have an even greater impact on the world and give back to the places,” he said. Treinish has hiked extensively in the Andes Mountains and completed the entire Appalachian Trail. He was awarded Adventurer of the Year in 2008 by National Geographic.

Treinish is adamant that anyone can help make a difference with this project even if you’re not an epic explorer. “We’ve worked with school kids, teachers, military veterans, and families on vacation. No matter what their skill level in science or the outdoors, they can make a valuable contribution.”

So what happens after you collect the data, you wonder? Well, part of the organization’s goal is to enhance what’s called “citizen science” and that involves making science more available to the public. After data is gathered for any project, it is open source accessible to NGO’s, governments, businesses, universities, and researchers. The hope is that these entities will use the research to enact positive policy change and take to heart the message that the public cares about our environment.

Sources: National Geographic (1) (2)

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
NOV 29, 2019
Earth & The Environment
NOV 29, 2019
Caribou conservation: is it enough?
Caribou are one of the mystic animals of the Northern hemisphere, large ungulates known for their branched antlers and tales of pulling Santa’s sleig...
DEC 31, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
DEC 31, 2019
Growing a Better Lab-Based Meat
Meat consumption has risen around the world in the past few decades, and demand is still increasing....
JAN 06, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 06, 2020
Every River Leap a Proboscis Monkey Makes Could be its Last
Leaves are one of the most essential components of a proboscis monkey’s diet, and in some cases, getting to the tastiest leaves means taking an enorm...
JAN 16, 2020
Neuroscience
JAN 16, 2020
Early-life Stress and Pollution Lead to Cognitive Impairment
Children exposed to high levels of stress at home from early on and high levels of air pollution while still in the womb are more likely to develop attenti...
JAN 19, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 19, 2020
Flying Foxes Must be Careful of Crocodiles When Hydrating
Flying foxes absolutely despise the Sun, and with that in mind, it should come as no surprise to anyone that they look for shade whenever possible. One pro...
JAN 27, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 27, 2020
This Octopus Emerges From the Water in Search of Food
Most octopuses live and breathe underwater, just like the vast majority of other marine animals. But this octopus endemic to Australia has a special abilit...
Loading Comments...