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Proc Biol Sci. 2018 Nov 21;285(1891). pii: 20181977. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2018.1977.

The role of citizen science in addressing grand challenges in food and agriculture research.

Author information

1
Department of Applied Ecology, NC State Extension, Raleigh, NC, USA citscisean@gmail.com.
2
Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA.
3
Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation/USDA NRCS ENTSC, Greensboro, NC, USA.
4
Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA.
5
Department of Applied Ecology, NC State Extension, Raleigh, NC, USA.
6
Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, NC State Extension, Raleigh, NC, USA.
7
Lincoln Heights Environmental Connections Magnet Elementary School, Fuquay-Varina, NC, USA.
8
Knightdale High School of Collaborative Design, Knightdale, NC, USA.
9
School of Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
10
NC Plant Sciences Initiative, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, NC State Extension, Raleigh, NC, USA.
11
Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences, NC State Extension, Raleigh, NC, USA.
12
Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, NC State Extension, Raleigh, NC, USA.
13
William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, NC State Extension, Raleigh, NC, USA.
14
Department of Horticultural Science, NC State Extension, Raleigh, NC, USA.
15
Curriculum Enhancement Programs at Wake County Public School System, Cary, NC, USA.
16
Department of Communication, NC State Extension, Raleigh, NC, USA.
17
North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Charlotte, NC, USA.
18
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, USA.
19
Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.
20
Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, USA.
21
Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, USA.
22
Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, NC State Extension, Raleigh, NC, USA.
23
Biodiversity Lab, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, NC, USA.
24
Department of Entomology, Center for Pollinator Research, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, USA.
25
Center for Environmental Farming Systems, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC, USA.
26
Department of Biology, Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA.
27
Research and Collections, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, NC, USA.
28
Millbrook Environmental Connections Magnet Elementary School, Raleigh, NC, USA.
29
Consultant - Biodiversity Conservation & Sustainable Development, Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India.
30
Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen University, Copenhagen, Denmark.
31
Heritage High School, Wake Forest, NC, USA.
32
College of Veterinary Medicine, NC State Extension, Raleigh, NC, USA.
33
Department of Computer Science, NC State Extension, Raleigh, NC, USA.
34
Evaluation and Accountability Coordinator Extension Administration, NC State Extension, Raleigh, NC, USA.
35
Arizona State University Biodesign Institute, Tempe, AZ, USA.

Abstract

The power of citizen science to contribute to both science and society is gaining increased recognition, particularly in physics and biology. Although there is a long history of public engagement in agriculture and food science, the term 'citizen science' has rarely been applied to these efforts. Similarly, in the emerging field of citizen science, most new citizen science projects do not focus on food or agriculture. Here, we convened thought leaders from a broad range of fields related to citizen science, agriculture, and food science to highlight key opportunities for bridging these overlapping yet disconnected communities/fields and identify ways to leverage their respective strengths. Specifically, we show that (i) citizen science projects are addressing many grand challenges facing our food systems, as outlined by the United States National Institute of Food and Agriculture, as well as broader Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations Development Programme, (ii) there exist emerging opportunities and unique challenges for citizen science in agriculture/food research, and (iii) the greatest opportunities for the development of citizen science projects in agriculture and food science will be gained by using the existing infrastructure and tools of Extension programmes and through the engagement of urban communities. Further, we argue there is no better time to foster greater collaboration between these fields given the trend of shrinking Extension programmes, the increasing need to apply innovative solutions to address rising demands on agricultural systems, and the exponential growth of the field of citizen science.

KEYWORDS:

agriculture; citizen science; extension; food science; grand challenges; sustainable development goals

PMID:
30464064
PMCID:
PMC6253361
DOI:
10.1098/rspb.2018.1977

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