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Mary Raczko

Partnership Liaison for the Boston Harbor Islands National Park


Mary Raczko began her National Park Service career at the Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area shortly after she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Northeastern University in 1998. She is the park's Partnership Liaison, and supports a 13-member Partnership and a 28-member Advisory Council as they work with the National Park Service to implement the general management plan for 34 islands spread out over 50 square miles of Boston Harbor. She is also the park's Volunteer Coordinator and has launched several successful citizen science programs. These

programs include shore-bird, invasive crab and eel grass monitoring and bioblitzes in association with an all-taxa biodiversity inventory. The driving force behind these events is Mary's personal passion to preserve biodiversity and her belief that public outreach in the form of hands-on opportunities is an effective way to encourage a stewardship ethic and thus lead to the protection of natural areas.


The Diversity of Bioblitzes

A Bioblitz is a rapid assessment of what lives in a particular area at a given point in time.  It a tool for biodiversity exploration and education and can bring together scientists, educators, students, naturalists and the general public in a scientific endeavor. Once defined as an intensive 24-hour survey of all species, the term Bioblitz is now often used for a range of events of different time durations.  Some events target a specific species; say a hunt for a specific invasive crab. Certain events may focus on a particular order of organisms, such as a 'Beetle Blitz' where only members of the Coleoptera order are studied.  Other events may target just one or more classes of organisms, like birds and mammals; or, it may be a survey of all species, including Microbes! A Bioblitz can be structured along a spectrum between educational outreach and scientific results.  Some events are structured for adults, others for students as curriculum projects, some to include a variety of ages and abilities. Each type of event presents its own benefits and challenges to the organizer.  It is important to define goals and desired outcomes clearly before structuring the event. Creating a balance between public outreach and scientific results is often a tricky endeavor. Choosing the best type of event to meet the goals and directing it to the appropriate audience improves chances of success. Our poster will show visuals of different types of blitzes, and highlight some of the key features of each and the benefits and challenges of organizing each one.    

Citizen science, volunteer monitoring, participatory action research... this site supports organizers of all initiatives where public participants are involved in scientific research.

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