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Training and Leadership: Quick Start Guide Part 4

Guide to Building a New York Phenology Project Monitoring Site



  • Host a training session with visuals such as a PowerPoint or other presentation, samples of your plants, handouts, and species identification cards.



  • The introductory presentation should introduce your project, New York Phenology Project, National Phenology Network, species you will monitor, your datasheet and how to establish a Nature’s Notebook account.


  • Head to the site and share a meal or snacks together.


  • Actually collect data at the site. Each participant should have a datasheet to record phenophases. Encourage participants to ask questions about datasheets, species identification, and phenophase descriptions. Practice more than you think is necessary.


  • Follow up through email within a few days and check in regularly.


  • Host another training in a few weeks and again in another 6 weeks or so.


  • Have a potluck or gathering around a favorite plant phenophase or something of that nature to retain excitement levels about the subject and continue to build community.



  • It is necessary to have a site administrator that works at the site (or a really dedicated volunteer that agrees to take on that role) who will collect the same data that participants are gathering and host/organize events. Over time, you can identify and “groom” participants for leadership roles.


  • Continue to solicit participant input and be willing to change plants, locations, or volume of data collected to meet your participant needs.


  • Be a community builder. Not just formal trainings but potlucks and other social events are important, too.


  • Create mechanisms for participants to submit photos or social media posts.


  • Have all documents in one location – maps, data sheets, information guides, photo guides. These can be hosted on NYPP's website or your own or both.


  • Provide ongoing feedback to participants:

    • Check their data (as well as your own) to ensure data quality and accuracy.

    • Clarify tricky phenophases in training, emails, newsletters, and/or social media to help build participants’ skills and accuracy.

    • Give summary presentations at the end of the season to show how much got done and what needs improvement.


  • Be “visible” – be available to receive participant feedback and answer their questions.


  • Be “invisible” – give credit to others and boast of their accomplishments. Celebrate their participation as often as possible.


Other Quick Start Guides ... 

Questions to Ask: Quick Start Guide Part 1

Before You Launch: Quick Start Guide Part 2

Choosing Species to Monitor: Quick Start Guide Part 3


Complete Quick Start Guide (to view or download)

Photo: Jay Diggs

Photo: Jay Diggs

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