Citizen Science Workshop

October 21, 2017 - 9:00am to 12:00pm
Iowa Memorial Union, Illinois Room

Citizens can and DO make contributions to science!

A free public workshop to learn about ways to get involved.

  • Local citizen science initiatives
  • Practical ways to participate in global research
  • Local and national environmental monitoring initiatives


RSVP on Facebook event page

RSVP on University of Iowa Events Calendar




9 a.m.            Keynote Address: “Citizen Science, Making a World of Difference”

Kris Stepenuck, Extension Assistant Professor of Watershed Science Policy and Education, University of Vermont


10 a.m.          Panel Discussion: “Citizen Roles in Environmental Science in Iowa”

Mary Skopec, Executive Director at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory Regents Resource Center

Carol Sweeting, City of Iowa City Public Works Information and Volunteer Coordinator

Dave Ratliff, Johnson and Iowa County Watershed Coalition project leader, IOWATER trained volunteer

Shawn Hawks, Director of the Iowa Raptor Center


11 a.m.          Floor discussion with speakers, panelists, and additional volunteers

                     Opportunities to volunteer for citizen science projects


Speakers and Panelists

Shawn Hawks, MS, is Director of the Iowa Raptor Center and Coordinator of the Iowa Raptor Project. He grew up in Northwest Iowa and received his bachelor’s degree from Upper Iowa University, double majoring in biology and conservation management, and his master’s in zoology from North Dakota State University. He has worked on a variety of bird-related research projects throughout North America and from 2010 to 2015 was a research biologist with HawkWatch International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of raptors. At HawkWatch, Shawn helped start citizen science monitoring and survey projects, and he’s bringing that knowledge to projects here in Iowa.


Dave Ratliff, citizen water monitoring volunteer, has a strong background in electronic engineering and computer technical and network support and has owned and operated a computer company in Iowa City since 1976.

He formed the Johnson and Iowa County Watershed Coalition, and is involved in teaching junior high, high school, and college students about the water and watersheds around them.


Mary Skopec, PhD, is Executive Director of Iowa Lakeside Laboratory: Regents Resource Center. Lakeside Lab is an Iowa Board of Regents campus dedicated to education of post-secondary students, research on aquatic systems and terrestrial landscapes, and community engagement on environmental topics. Prior to joining Lakeside Lab in December of 2016, Dr. Skopec worked with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in a variety of roles including directing the statewide water quality monitoring program, the beach monitoring program, and IOWATER (citizen-based water quality monitoring). 


Kristin Stepenuck, PhD, is Extension Assistant Professor of Watershed Science Policy and Education, University of Vermont and Extension Leader for Lake Champlain Sea Grant Program. As the Extension Leader, she oversees Extension and outreach activities to promote healthy coastal ecosystems, resilient communities, and an environmentally literate populace across the Lake Champlain Basin.

Kris came to the University of Vermont after 14 years coordinating volunteer stream monitoring for the State of Wisconsin. Her previous research has included assessing impacts of land use on water quality, comparing water monitoring methods, and assessing outcomes of volunteer water monitoring programs. Her research interests also include assessing attitude and behavior changes that may result from water-related community outreach programming. She serves as secretary of the Citizen Science Association.


Carol Sweeting is the Iowa City Volunteer Coordinator. She is an educator in the community and state in water quality and storm water issues. She manages three stormwater assistants who perform duties such as water quality testing on 22 sites, both streams and ponds, using the IOWATER protocol. Annual stream assessments are also performed. Carol directs volunteer efforts in daily and emergency response.