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Benefits of Citizen Science

Increase data collection and impact

I will always be impressed with the amount of high quality data that Earthwatch volunteers have collected with us over the past decades. In the face of continual bad news about increases in extreme weather events, rising sea levels, massive extinctions, and loss of our favorite habitats, it is important to continue the hard work of documenting and protecting the amazing diversity that lives on through the consequences of human impacts.

Dr. Lee Dyer Earthwatch support: 1998-PRESENT

Citizen science enables participants to make a direct contribution to research, increase their scientific understanding, and immerse themselves deeply afield in learning about environmental issues. These opportunities provide personally transformative experiences. Additionally, citizen-scientist participants can help researchers to maximize the amount of data collected on a project. Partnering with Earthwatch also can enable researchers to have broader impacts with their science (e.g., education, local community engagement and support).

Earthwatch is a world leader in supporting team-based, researcher-facilitated citizen science. Since 1971, we have supported research projects that produce rigorous, relevant, and impactful science, address global change, and actively involve citizen-scientist participants. In designing their research, prospective Earthwatch-supported PIs must consider citizen-scientist participant involvement a priori. Earthwatch participants (aka, volunteers) must meaningfully contribute to research by collecting field data under the direct supervision of scientists and their professional field technicians.

Participants do not need previous research experience or skills. Earthwatch staff prepare participants for the field using materials developed by the PI and our organization, such as the project’s web content and briefing document. Here is a sample briefing document.

PIs and their staff are responsible for training participants upon arrival to the field.



Earthwatch refers to a group of participants fielding on a project as a team. We recruit the following types of participants for teams:


We recruit participants through our website, our Field Research Expedition Guide, and outreach campaigns. Participants primarily come from North America and Europe and are enthusiastic about science.  PIs can set physical fitness requirements. Participant per-capita payment funds the project.


Earthwatch partners with nonprofits and corporations to create opportunities for staff professional development. Professionals may field through their employer on a team as an individual or as a team entirely composed of professionals.  Facilitators support teams of professionals.


Earthwatch also recruits special-interest groups to participate on select research projects. This may include groups from zoos, university alumni or a high school class (with teacher chaperones).


Earthwatch recruits teens (ages 15-18) to participate on select research projects. With researcher approval, teens can field with a guardian, or in a facilitator-supported team, entirely composed of teenagers.

Earthwatch works with PIs to determine their project’s goodness-of-fit for teens, groups, and/or professionals.

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