I was the head Project Coordinator for a large-scale citizen science camera trapping wildlife survey, Candid Critters. North Carolina’s Candid Critters (NCCC) Project was a three-year (2016-2019) wildlife survey that recruited the help of citizen scientists to set trail cameras (i.e., camera traps) across the state. In conjunction with NC State University, NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), NC Museum of Natural Sciences, eMammal, and NC Cardinal Libraries, Candid Critters fostered a network of citizen scientists from a variety of backgrounds and collected 2.1 million camera trap photos from cameras run at 4,500 locations in all 100 North Carolina counties. The goals of the project were 1) to engage the public in science and 2) collect data on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) recruitment, coyote (Canis latrans) occupancy, and the distribution of multiple species across the state.
In the three-year span of the Candid Critters Project, we inspired a passion for science in unreached rural communities and provided guidance to more than 500 citizen science volunteers. We conducted education initiatives over multiple platforms, and gained over 1,800 followers on the project’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram page. We created numerous educational webinars, blogs, and seminars that taught wildlife science to high school students at GreenSTEM, Envirothon, and multiple public libraries across North Carolina.
Candid Critters has answered large-scale ecological questions with citizen scientists, and we have published a paper discussing the project’s protocol so other researchers can learn from our successful endeavors and refrain from making the same mistakes. We have also developed a Tableau visualization that provides species-specific results, seen below.