See below for an update from Cape Citizen Science. There are many opportunities to be involved in 2017.
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Cape Citizen Science: 2017

Greetings <<First Name>>,
We hope you have had a great start to the year. We created this newsletter to keep you updated on the discoveries and achievements of Cape Citizen Science. This is the first newsletter we have created, but we will try to send you one every few months.

You are receiving this because you have either contacted us, shared your contact information with us, supported us through one of our crowdfunding campaigns, or have been involved at some point.

Thank you for your support and engagement during 2016.

Accomplishments in 2016

Below is a list of some of our accomplishments during the past year.
  • We engaged more than 80 youth and 45 professional staff as pathogen hunters in many areas of the Cape Floristic Region.
  • We received more than 30 dying plant reports and 9 home owners invited us to their property to collect samples.
  • We organized nine workshops for professional staff in botanical gardens, national parks, and nature reserves.
  • We introduced the project to 19 different audiences with presentations.
  • Our culture collection grew enormously, with isolates still growing from more than 60 citizens. We have also received several samples sent directly to our lab (even some from Pretoria!).
So far, we have engaged more than 120 individuals in our research, we have developed an effective engagement activity, we have collected hundreds of Phytophthora isolates, and we have sequenced genes to identify species. Now, we are ready to collect more samples, test more hypotheses, discover more species, and engage more citizens!

Opportunities to be Involved in 2017

Report dying plants 

Please let us know if you come across any dying plants during your recreation activities. Especially if you find an area with widespread infection. You can report dying plants using the tag "dying fynbos" on IspotNature or by contacting us directly.

Submit samples

We are happy to accept any samples you have. Multiple citizens have submitted soil, roots, and entire plants from their home gardens or private nature reserves. We have even received samples from local plant productions. We will pretty much accept anything you are curious about. Do you have Phytophthora in your garden?

Join us in the lab

If we're not in the field with you, we are probably in our laboratory. Join us to gain research experience or just volunteer your time to help conserve our biodiversity. Several citizens have spent various mornings or afternoons with us, some even bring their kids along to learn.

Help with youth engagement activities

We were recently granted funding to engage youth in our research. Now, we are busy establishing partnerships and organizing activities with a few local after-school learning programs. Contact us if you would like to participate in these activities, or if you have a group that would benefit from a science engagement activity.
We can determine if Phytophthora is involved by sampling the soil and roots under a dying plant. See the above instructions if you have a sick plant in your garden or if you found one on a previous hike.

Good news

We recently received two awards to help us engage more youth! We received the Mathre Education Endowment Award from the American Phytopathological Society and the Plant Pathology Promotional Fund from the British Society of Plant Pathologists. Together, with the support from our backers, we now have an impressive budget specifically to provide opportunities for South African youth to release their inner scientists!

Research Outputs

Keep an eye out for the March issue of Veld & Flora for a short article about some of our results from a home garden visit.

2017 Presentations

Groenewald J., Roets F., Hulbert J., Phytophthora cinnamomi: a driver behind endangered flora in the CFR?, South African Association of Botanists, Annual Meeting, Cape Town, South Africa, January 10, 2017.

"Public engagement in South Africa's ecological research: the 'how' and 'why' of citizen science", South African Association of Botanists, Annual Meeting, Cape Town, South Africa, January 10, 2017.

"Methods of surveying plant pathogens with citizen science", South African Society for Plant Pathology, 50th anniversary meeting, Champagne Sports Resort, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa, January 16, 2017.

See the above instructions if you want to go hiking for science.

Crowdfunding Success

Thanks to many generous backers, we recently raised more than $600 USD to engage youth from Kayamandi in our research. Information about the campaign and our plans to use the money is available here:

Recent Press

Engela Duvenage, 'Launched: crowdfunding project to get Kayamandi kids involved in fynbos research', Stellenbosch University News, January 22, 2017.
Ansa Heyl, 'We need your help to inspire the scientists of tomorrow!', UP News, January 20, 2017.
Editor, 'Join hunt for fynbos killers', Knysna-Plett Herald, December 24-27, 2016.
Editor, 'Identifying killer pathogens', Worcestor Standard, November 21, 2016.
Publiek kan help om fynbos te red', Netwerk 24, November 15, 2016.

Get involved to Inspire More Discoveries in 2017!

Thanks to our citizen scientists in 2016, we know that anyone can contribute to our plant disease surveys. Join us again this year to release your inner scientist, discover new species of Phytophthora, and contribute to research that will help conserve the biodiversity of the Cape Floristic Region.
Copyright © 2017 Cape Citizen Science, All rights reserved.

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