Citizen Scientists, We Want You!  CoNPS is Launching a New Budburst Project

Phenology is the science investigating how climate and other environmental factors influence plant growth, in particular timing of events such as when flowers first come out in spring, when fruits become ripe in summer, and when leaves turn colors in the fall. One of the most important ways to advance this science is through careful monitoring of plants in the field.  The problem is, there aren't enough scientists to do all the observations that need to be done.  Data on many of our common and iconic Colorado natives is not available, and could make important contributions to our scientific understanding of how plants are responding to environmental stresses.  That is where YOU, the Citizen Scientist, comes in.  Studies have shown that ordinary citizens, including children and teenagers, can collect data which is accurate and reliable, once they have received proper training. And it can be fun. It’s a great excuse to spend more time outside, and to learn more about our native plants and how they change over the year.

CoNPS is partering with Budburst a national citizen science project to track environmental changes across country using data on plant species and pollinator phenology.  It’s a great way to use our knowledge of native plants to help scientists better understand how these plants are responding to climate change and help guide conservation efforts. Volunteers simply make regular observations on phenological stages of plants from their own gardens, or in natural areas, open spaces or trails.  CoNPS has a project within the national website with our own list of Colorado Native Plants.  For those of you that have participated before, we are happy to report that it is getting even easier to input your phenology for Budburst. The national organization is working hard on making the website easier to use. A major update to their website will be launched soon. There will eventually be a phone app as well which will make it even easier to collect plant data for this program.

Your Colorado Native Plant Society will be launching a new, simplified Project on Budburst by early next year.  If you are already participating, please continue to do so! You can still join up and enter data on your own gardens, trails, and public spaces.  As an individual you can use any of the 95 Colorado native plants already on the site.  If you join our CoNPS group, you can use our specially created group of 10 high priority Colorado natives in addition to other common species.

Go to to check out the site with its new format.  To get more information and to find out when our new project is being launched, email us at

Rhus tribolata and Bee
Linda Smith

Helpful Climate, Phenology and Pollinator ID Links:

Climate Information:
CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network
US Climate Data

Phenology information:

National Phenology Network  
Nature’s Notebook

Identification Guides for Pollinators: 

Bumblebees of Colorado - Identification Guide 

Butterflies and Moths of North America
Larimer County, CO -  Butterflies and Moths Listing with Photos   

How the Internet Is Saving the Bees  What companies are doing to save bees, apps and software for bee management and on-line resources for bee keeping.

Become a Native Plant Master®
A Program of Colorado State University Extension

1. Learn fascinating plant facts including landscape uses of Colorado natives and other
human uses.
2. Discover how noxious weeds threaten native plants and wildlife.
3. Learn how to use a key and botanical field guides to identify wild plants.
4. Interact with others who share your love of Colorado’s native flora.
5. Be recognized for your advanced knowledge with a certificate from CSU Extension.

Native Plant Master® courses are offered at various open space parks, state parks and other public lands. No course is a required prerequisite for another course. Each 12-hour course is made up of three four-hour sessions taught on mornings in May, June, July, August or September. There is a fee for each course. Courses are offered at a reduced rate for participants who agree to teach at least 20 people per year about Colorado plants for each course taken. For more information or an application, visit the NPM® website.