This Guelph master's student invites you to stroll with squirrels
‘It’s fun to go out and notice what they're doing because they're all around us.’
A University of Guelph student has launched a community science app that invites people to record their everyday observations of squirrels.
For one thing, they're everywhere. They're big enough to spot. And if you pay attention, Elizabeth Porter says you might catch them doing something entertaining.
"Lots of people tell me stories about a squirrel, like launching out of a trash can at them or something," said Porter, founder of the Squirrel Life Community Project.
"It's fun to go out and notice what they're doing because they're all around us."
To use the app, you simply have to go for a walk and open the app when you spot a squirrel. It asks a few simple questions: what kind of squirrel is it? Does it have any unique features? What is it doing?
As the squirrel data trickles in, Porter said she doesn't have a single purpose in mind. Researchers or undergraduate students could use it — and so could citizen scientists.
She hopes the project will motivate people to take an interest in science and research, and to simply slow down and notice the nature around them.
"I hear from a lot of people that just the process of being outside and being mindful of their surroundings in nature, that in itself is really impactful because they start noticing the sound of the wind in the trees more or the leaves on the ground," said Porter.
"I think that's really valuable."
An interim version of the Squirrel Life app is available online now, with a full version to come later this spring.