John Brandauer (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Series: Civic Science In Wisconsin

The pursuit of knowledge about Wisconsin's flora and fauna is not just the province of professional researchers. Public participation in science has woven itself into Wisconsin's history of naturalism and conservation, an important complement to work in the state's research universities and regulatory agencies. People around the state have volunteered their time to help with everything from monitoring invasive insect pests to observing Wisconsin's bat and bird populations. People who participate in civic or citizen science have the opportunity to develop a closer connection with the natural world, and a chance to develop greater understanding of and consensus around environmental issues. Wisconsinites who aren't scientists in their daily lives also can and do undertake all sorts of projects to help address environmental challenges, from building rain gardens to fostering habitat for monarch butterflies.
 
There are many steps an individual can take in backyards and around communities that can help revive pollinating insect populations, including conservation and promotion of healthy habitats.
The Monarch butterfly is a vital pollinator across much of North America. But the species is facing some of the same environmental pressures afflicting other insect pollinators, and the number of monarchs overwintering at sites in Mexico is declining precipitously.
A strategically placed rain garden can mitigate excess water and add visual interest to a property.
Energy conservation starts at home. With a few modifications to existing landscape design, an average backyard can become an energy conservation tool.
Cindy Mischnick was a driving force behind the La Crosse Seed Library, the state's first that allows patrons to "check out" seeds to plant in their gardens.
A U.S. Geological Survey study recommends timely removal of fallen leaves from streets as a way to improve urban water quality.
Fall is a great time to harvest and sow milkweed seeds. For the monarch butterfly, milkweeds are essential for survival.
Property owners who are battling with the invasive buckthorn in their woods and are determined to take action should consider applying herbicide in the next few weeks.
Pollinators play an integral role in the biological world.
Summer in Wisconsin can often be quite hot and dry, interrupted only by intermittent rains. Drier weather conditions means homeowners feel they need to water the plants in their yards.