The Alaska Herpetological Society (AHS) is committed to promoting the use of citizen science in the study of amphibians and reptiles in Alaska. Not only do citizen science programs provide an excellent opportunity for education and outreach, but they can also result in valuable data that supports the research and management of species. It is our hope that citizen science can help us to improve our knowledge of amphibian and reptile diversity, distribution, abundance, health and population trends in the state - subjects that are currently lacking baseline data.
(Photo of Adam Perry of Petersburg with his award winning Long-toed Salamander Cake!)
AHS is engaged in two ongoing partnerships that offer both youth and adults the opportunity to learn about Alaska's Herpetofauna while contributing valuable scientific data. The first is a state-wide partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) to provide educational programs and field excursions in Alaska communities that are in proximity to national parks. The communities tentatively scheduled for inclusion are McCarthy, Slana, Nebesna, Copper Center, Glennallen, Kobuk, Ambler, Shungnak, Kobuk, Eagle, Circle, Minchumina, and Healy. Other communities can be included upon request!
The second citizen science program organized by AHS is the establishment of a long-term amphibian monitoring program for the students of the Petersburg High School. We are excited to have obtained a grant through the Alaska Forum on the Environment and the Community Environmental Education Stewardship through Youth Involvement program! The student monitoring is being integrated with AHS' Stikine Long-term Amphibian Monitoring Program (SLAMP) and provides an excellent opportunity for students to engage in meaningful science in their home communities.
AHS has also engaged students in past programs with great success. In 2012, AHS partnered with Say Yes to STEM in Schools (SYSTEMS) program to offer amphibian guest lectures to rural K12 students. Our staff traveled to the communities of Wrangell, Klawock, Craig, and Metlakatla to visit classrooms and to work with students. We were well received in each of the schools and the students were excited to share their previous observations of amphibians on local landscapes!
More recently, AHS partnered with the Girl Scouts of Alaska and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to develop "CampPhibian", a four-day amphibian sampling adventure in the Stikine-LeConte Wilderness. We traveled to SLAMP's Twin Lakes site with five scouts, USFS staff and AHS volunteers to conduct a systematic inventory. This experience provided the scouts with a hands-on experience like none other in the state!
FROGS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU THINK!