The MDP Year-End survey was well-received, with 150 volunteers from around North America providing feedback about MDP projects and resources. Congratulations to Dean K. of Minnesota and Tim T. of California, the lucky winners of our survey respondent drawing for a copy of one of Dennis Paulson's field guides! Your comments and suggestions help us to better understand the motivations and needs of MDP project participants and continue to improve our citizen scientist tools, resources, and cross-border outreach in the coming year.
MDP projects are driven by the enthusiasm and effort of our volunteers and our advances in understanding dragonfly migration are made possible through your data collection efforts. When asked what changes could encourage more participation in MDP projects, almost 60% of respondents answered "online quizzes" or "online training". Fourteen percent of respondents also feel that the "ability to connect with other volunteers" would encourage increased participation. We understand these needs and are continuing to work to meet them. The end of 2013 saw the launch of Shared Localities, allowing multiple volunteers in one area to monitor the same site, as well as the ability to share e-mail addresses with other participants. One of our many goals for 2014 is to incorporate online training modules and self-directed quizzes on the MDP website. Other barriers to participation continue to be "ease of data entry" and "lack of understanding protocols", important issues where attention will be focused this year. "Time", or rather the lack thereof, remains a limiting factor to volunteer participation. We don't know any tricks for finding more free time in life, unfortunately, but we certainly understand busy schedules and greatly value any and all levels of contribution by our citizen scientists.
In February, MDP steering committee members from Canada, Mexico, and the US will come together in Austin, Texas for our annual strategic planning meeting. This year's theme is "Data, Data, Data!" With a few years of Migration Monitoring, Stable Isotopes, and Pond Watch data in hand it's time to start visualizing and analyzing the data we have, extracting information and identifying areas where more or different data are needed. Look for meeting reports and data summaries in the coming months in the monthly e-newsletters and our annual report to volunteers.