CANTON Stark County is rife with educational programs and volunteer opportunities. Stark Parks is one of the organizations that welcome volunteers for a number of their naturalist programs and other areas of helping residents enjoy the beauty of the many parks throughout the county.
Stark Parks is currently holding classes throughout the next several months to certify frog watchers. It’s a part of a national initiative to encourage the collaboration between citizen science volunteers and scientists. The citizen scientists gather research data for the naturalists and scientists to analyze.
Co-instructor Allison Terlacher said Stark Parks is one of the chapters of FrogWatch USA which is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) flagship citizen science program.
"The program began in 1998 and has collected over 20 years of data through was we are training the volunteers tonight when collecting information about the frogs and toads in our area," Terlacher said. "The data our volunteers collect is highly meaningful because it focuses on animals that indicate change in the environment. Frogs and toads are part of the group that can indicate a change in a locale’s environment."
The participants in the classes receive instructions on how to listen and observe, how to record findings and how to identify the different sounds frogs and toads make. They received a thumb drive with recordings of each of the frogs they will be looking for and recording data.
Participants could also sit for a test to receive certification from FrogWatch USA so that their findings could be part of a national database. Volunteers get a written test and an audio test that they have to get 80 percent on each to pass.
"The volunteers don’t have to take the test to become certified, but their findings only get sent to FrogWatch USA if they are certified," said co-instructor Samantha Clyde. "People are welcome to come to the class just to learn about the frogs and toads in the area and how to identify the different varieties. We provide a list of sites that the volunteers can go to find the amphibians or people can learn to listen and identify the frogs in their own backyard."
The instructors said they hope to have sites in every park where people can go to listen and identify frogs and toads. Signs will be put up in the areas designated as an observation site.
There are two locations in Sippo Park in Perry Township and two in the Quail Hollow Park in Hartville. For more information about the FrogWatch volunteer program at Stark Parks, visit the website at www.starkparks.com and look for training dates on the event calendar.