Each season it is the duty of the AmeriCorps interns to work on a service project either individually or as a group with an organization outside of the Teton Science Schools. During the fall l worked with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation and Jackson Hole Nature Mapping. Nature Mapping is a simple wildlife observation system that has been incorporated into the Jackson Hole area at various levels. To be a Nature Mapper, one must record specific observations of wildlife that are seen anywhere in Jackson Hole. When wildlife is seen, the species, quantity, GPS location, sex and other information are recorded. This information goes into the master Nature Mapping database. Through Nature Mapping we can have a better idea of the numbers and species of wildlife in Jackson Hole. At Teton Science Schools we incorporate Nature Mapping everyday into our field days with residential school groups.As part of our field day with school groups, if we see any wildlife or sign of wildlife we can use Nature Mapping as a way to report what we see. By filling out a simple observation form with all of the information about the wildlife sighting we can be a part of the Nature Mapping project and help monitor the wildlife of Jackson Hole. All field instructors at Teton Science Schools are trained in Nature Mapping and help teach students about animal identification and using a GPS in order to record all of the required information. After our field week we will compile any Nature Mapping data into the master database. Through this project, our students that come to TSS contribute to a greater science project that is going on in Jackson Hole.
Another part of Nature Mapping is Project Backyard where numerous community members record observations of wildlife around their homes. By getting many participants around the valley involved in this project, wildlife can be monitored and counted frequently and throughout a larger area. Project Backyard allows regular citizens who are not certified “scientists” to participate in a scientific project that is helping wildlife in the Jackson Hole area. In that way, Nature Mapping is a citizen scientist project incorporating many people in the Jackson Hole Valley. It is becoming an essential part of wildlife monitoring because in many residential places the Wyoming Game and Fish Department cannot survey wildlife because of safety and human disturbance.
As part of my service for Nature Mapping and the Wildlife Foundation I created two GIS maps of Osprey Nest data in Jackson Hole. One map represents the known nests in the area, while the other map depicts the productivity of successful nests. This data is just a small portion of the projects that the Wildlife Foundation and Nature Mapping have going on in Jackson Hole.
Nature Mapping and the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation have on-going projects that are helping to monitor the wildlife of Jackson Hole while incorporating local participation at many levels.