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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — This Earth Day, in the time it takes to order a cup of coffee, you can help scientists document life on our planet.

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A Florida Museum visitor works to digitize a “Notes from Nature” entry, which helps transcribe museum records. ©Florida Museum photo by Kristen Grace

With its “Take a Note for Earth Day” online challenge, the Florida Museum of Natural History, in collaboration with the Notes from Nature project, is encouraging citizen scientists to transcribe one museum specimen label for Earth Day, Sunday, April 22.

Throughout the weekend, April 20-22, participants are encouraged to post their work on social media with #takeanote to share their contribution with others.

On Earth Day, Florida Museum visitors will also have the opportunity to complete the “Take a Note” challenge at the Notes from Nature table from 1 to 5 p.m.

“’Notes from Nature’ is simply a way to connect our collections and the scientists – who manage and work on them – with volunteer citizen scientists who are generous enough to help us enhance scientific value and use of those collections,” said Robert Guralnick, an associate curator in the Florida Museum informatics division.

Museums worldwide house an estimated 10 billion specimens, each with a label containing valuable biological data. But many labels are handwritten. Digitizing these labels enables scientists to use them to answer key questions about biodiversity and the environment and how these have changed over time.

21157 Earth Day I Noted Sticker_FNL“These specimens have been collected over the last 200 years and are one of our most important resources for understanding where organisms have been in the past, how they have changed over time and which areas are most critical to protect,” said Julie Allen, a postdoctoral associate in the Florida Museum informatics division. “If it takes three minutes to transcribe one specimen label, it would take one person 342 years working 24 hours a day to transcribe all of the specimens in the U.S. alone. That’s why we need the public’s help.”

“Notes from Nature” is a National Science Foundation-funded online platform. Project partners include the California Terrestrial Arthropod Database, Florida Museum, Florida State University, New York Botanical Garden, Southeast Regional Network of Expertise and Collections and University of Florida.

For more information on the Notes for Nature project, visit www.notesfromnature.org. For more information on the campaign, visit www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/event/earth-day-2018.

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Writer: Jessica Finkel, 352-273-2032, PRintern@flmnh.ufl.edu
Source: Julie Allen, juliema@floridamuseum.ufl.edu, Robert Guralnick, 352-273-1980, rguralnick@flmnh.ufl.edu
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054, pramey@flmnh.ufl.edu