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Welcome to our ongoing effort to catalog citizen science and other public participation in scientific research (PPSR) projects for UC California Naturalists and other citizen scientists.  We invite you to browse the listed projects or enter key words (like birds, youth, invasive, coast, Alameda, etc.) in the search box above to find projects in your area. It's a great way to stay involved and keep developing your skills as a natural scientist!

A vast majority of the information in the database was gathered from project websites and may be out of date. We encourage you to contact projects directly to get involved and learn about most recent opportunities. If you work with a listed project and would like to add to, update, or correct the information we have, please email cghdixon@ucdavis.edu. Also, please consider filling out the "PPSR perspectives" survey. Click here to access the survey, which will help guide this project in the coming year.

If you know of a project not on our list, please go to the "tell us about a project" link on the left so we can list the project here. Thanks for your help!

Special thanks goes to the National Science Foundation Informal Science Education program and the Stephen J. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation for supporting this database of projects.

Great Sunflower Project

  • Organization Name
    SFSU Department of Biology
  • Organization Website
  • Partners
    N / A
  • Contact Name
    Gretchen LeBuhn
  • Contact Email
  • Contact Phone
  • Other Contact Information

    Great Sunflower Project
    The Polistes Foundation
    133 Washington St.
    Belmont, MA 02478

    Phone: 617-484-6490
    Fax: 617-484-6428
    E-mail: weickkd@aol.com

  • Project Purpose (taken from project materials)

    We know that pollinators are declining in certain wild and many agricultural landscapes. However, little is known about urban pollinators. While the loss of these pollinators is important, it is more important to understand what effect these losses have had on pollinator services.

    By finding a way to track and value the goods and services provided by natural ecosystems, we will find a future in which conservation is not a luxury but a guiding principle of daily decision-making throughout the world. The data you collect from your sunflower will be a start. It will provide an insight into how our green spaces in the urban, suburban and rural landscapes are connected as well as shedding light on how to help pollinators. What we need are innovative strategies to maximize the benefits of our wild and semi-wild habitat remnants. The Great Sunflower Project is the first step.

  • Participant Activities

    Our project is going to use data collected by people like you to produce the first real map of the state of the bees. You can help. Plant a sunflower! Tell a friend! We've made it easy. Plant a seed or two, spend 15 minutes watching your flowers twice a month and send or input your data. Plant, Watch, Type. That's it.

  • Data Entry
    • Website
  • Other Participant Activities
    N / A
  • System Studied
    • Plants
    • Invertebrates
  • Geographic Scope
  • Region
    N / A
  • Location
    urban backyards
  • Location - Map
    SF State University 1600 Holloway Avenue . San Francisco . CA 94132
  • Time Commitment
    • Other (see Other Information below)
  • Volunteer Qualifications


  • Volunteer Training


  • Cost to Participant

    5$ or minimal

  • How will the findings be used?

    We know very little about bee activity in home and community gardens and their surrounding environments, but we are certain that they are a crucial link in the survival of native habitats and local produce, not to mention our beautiful urban gardens. Our local pollinator populations require our understanding & protection, and to answer that call we need to determine where and when they are at work.

    With enough citizen scientists collecting data, we can learn much more, much faster, about the current state of bee activity.

    Individual data is collected and reported back to participant and there is a map of all the sitings so far at http://www.greatsunflower.org/2010-map 

  • Other Information

    Each bee sample is taken for 15 minutes at each flower for multiple days through sun flower blooming season.

  • Photo
  • last update:
    N / A

If you work with this project and would like to add to or update the information below, please email cghdixon@ucdavis.edu.

If you know of a project not on our list, please go to the "tell us about a project" link on the left so we can list the project here. Thanks for your help!

This database is focused on projects in California focused on the environment. For opportunities outside California, as well as national projects that don't have a California-specific components, check http://www.birds.cornell.edu/citscitoolkit/projects.