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November 6, 2018

“American Spring LIVE” Launches with Three-Day Conference

In late April and early May 2019, Nature will be presenting American Spring LIVE, a three-night live television and online event highlighting spring’s arrival in a variety of iconic locations across North America. The program will be the among the most ambitious in Nature’s long history. Last Thursday through Saturday, the project formally launched with WNET hosting a three-day conference at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York.

Community Engagement staff (Amanda Granger, Maggie Bower, and Jasmine Wilson) at Cornell Ornithology Lab

In addition to depicting how animals and plants respond to winter’s end, American Spring LIVE will encourage viewers to take an active role in the study of seasons and our changing climate by participating in an array of citizen science projects. Citizen Science facilitates the collection, submission, and analysis of data by the general public, working in collaboration with professional scientists. From counting birds in their backyards, to monitoring the budding and blooming of spring flowers, to tracking the arrival of monarch butterflies in their communities, viewers will be provided with tools and resources for contributing information to ongoing scientific studies.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, WNET’s Community Engagement team is managing an ambitious national station engagement initiative in support of the project. Ten PBS stations in communities nationwide will be developing local companion productions, hosting large-scale family events, providing face-to-face training sessions for viewers to participate in the featured citizen science projects, and launching multiplatform promotional campaigns.

Dr. Karen Purcell of Cornell University teaching participants how to Celebrate Urban Birds

The three-day Ithaca conference brought together WNET staff, project advisors, members of the production team, representatives from the ten partner PBS stations and their respective science partners, and team members from the six citizen science projects which will be featured in the series. Conference participants received comprehensive instruction on the citizen science projects, as well as ideas on how to roll them out in their local communities; developed an understanding of the scope and scale of American Spring LIVE, and participated in coaching/advisory sessions focused on strengthening their local work and reaching diverse audiences.

In addition to being home to two of the projects which will be featured on the program, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is the birthplace of citizen science, and one of the world’s leading research centers focused on birds and other wildlife. It is housed in the Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity in Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary. Approximately 250 scientists, professors, staff, and students work in a variety of programs devoted to the lab’s mission: interpreting and conserving the Earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds.

Dr. Rick Bonney of Cornell University describing how Citizen Science can save the world

Dr. John Fitzpatrick, Director, Cornell Ornithology Lab; Dr. Rick Bonney, Cornell University; Fred Kaufman, Nature Executive Producer

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