Ryan Chrouser and his son

Ryan Chrouser’s extensive contributions toward documenting Wisconsin’s dragonflies and damselflies has earned him a 2020 Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Award. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

MADISON, Wis. – An Eau Claire man who has photographed and reported an astonishing 14,000 dragonflies and damselflies, the longtime bat monitoring coordinator for a Manitowish Waters nature center and others are among recipients of the 2020 Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Awards.

Since 2005, these awards have recognized individuals and groups making tremendous strides in volunteer involvement in scientific research and monitoring. The awards are given by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Network, a collaboration of more than 190 projects and groups promoting citizen-based monitoring.

The DNR’s citizen-based monitoring coordinator, Eva Lewandowski, said that volunteers and staff who partner with them are crucial to collecting information about Wisconsin’s plants and animals, lakes, rivers, wetlands and other natural resources.

“Our 2020 award recipients embody the spirit of the citizen-based monitoring community,” Lewandowski said. “They contribute not just their time, but also their creativity, perseverance, and boundless energy to monitor and protect Wisconsin’s natural resources. They have made profound contributions to local and statewide monitoring efforts.”

The award winners, the category in which they are being recognized, and brief descriptions of their contributions follow. More detailed accounts can be found on the Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Network website.

Waukesha County Conservation In The Parks, Citizen-Based Monitoring Program Of The Year

The Conservation in the Parks program engages Waukesha County volunteers to monitor wetlands, birds, bumble bees, snakes, dragonflies and more in county parks. The information they collect is used to help manage the parks. In 2019, its first full year, 382 volunteers spent 2,402 hours monitoring. One of the most exciting findings was the presence of the federally endangered rusty patched bumble bee in three separate parks.

Ryan Chrouser, Outstanding Achievement In Citizen-Based Monitoring

Chrouser, an Eau Claire resident, has made a profound impact on monitoring Wisconsin’s dragonflies and damselflies. President of the Wisconsin Dragonfly Society, Chrouser has submitted over 14,000 observations of dragonflies and damselflies to DNR’s Wisconsin Odonata Survey since 2002. He gives talks and leads field outings about dragonflies for the public to promote the society and survey.

Heidi Conde, Outstanding Achievement In Citizen-Based Monitoring

Conde, also of Eau Claire, has stepped up in a big way to fill the need for volunteers for nighttime wildlife surveys. Starting with owl surveys in 2005, she has since expanded her efforts to include surveys for nightjars, frogs and birds, participating in at least 106 wildlife surveys over the years. In the 2019 season alone, she completed 36 surveys.

Licia Johnson, Outstanding Achievement In Citizen-Based Monitoring

Johnson, a staff member of the North Lakeland Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters, coordinates and trains volunteers who monitor for bats by recording their calls using specialized acoustic equipment. In 2019, volunteers she worked with conducted 67 bat surveys. Johnson leads over 20 bat education programs for schools and community groups each year and also is involved in citizen-based monitoring of monarchs, birds and amphibians.

Sue And Bob Volenec, Outstanding Achievement In Citizen-Based Monitoring

The Volenecs have been pillars in their local citizen-based monitoring community since moving to Lake Mills a few years ago. They monitor water quality at two streams in Jefferson County and visit local schools to teach children about the importance of streams. The pair participated in the recent Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II by kayak, the Annual Midwest Crane Count, kestrel nest box monitoring and the Christmas Bird Count. They also monitor bats and aquatic invasive species.

Mike Reese, David N. Redell Award For Lifetime Achievement In Citizen-Based Monitoring

Reese is the first person to receive two individual Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Awards: An Outstanding Achievement Award in 2008 and the Lifetime Achievement Award this year. With his son, Reese created the Wisconsin Butterflies website more than 15 years ago with a detailed guide to each of the state’s butterflies. The site serves as a centralized location for butterfly observers to report their observations, which Reese vets. He also leads butterfly counts for the North American Butterfly Association and vets data from across the Midwest. Reese played a crucial role in the recent Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II as director of volunteers and county coordinator for four different counties. He observes bumble bees, tiger beetles and robber flies.

Read more about Wisconsin’s history of citizen scientists and the Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Network in A First Rate Record of Participation in the Spring 2019 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

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