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Group of leaders participating in an in person LPL Certification Course

The Local Phenology Leader Certification Course provides you with the materials you need to lead a group of observers in data collection for Nature's Notebook.

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Erin Posthumus

Local Phenology Leader Certification Course

The USA National Phenology Network’s Local Phenology Leader Certification Course is designed to help you establish a Nature's Notebook citizen science program. It is most appropriate for those interested in developing long-term phenology datasets and long-term engagement programs (not just one-time opportunities) using Nature's Notebook. The course is online and interactive; participants work with a cohort of others across the county and with USA-NPN Outreach and Education Staff to gain the skills need to develop a program plan, recruit volunteers, collect observations, analyze observation data, and collaborate with community partners. 

LPL Certification Course badgeThe Local Phenology Leader (LPL) Certification Course is an interactive and intensive 10-week, 60-80* hour Course requiring participation in a combination of online assignments, group discussions, and the development of an individualized program plan for phenology monitoring with Nature's Notebook. Participants must actively participate in discussions, meetings, and submit three deliverables to become a Certified Local Phenology Leader, an award that designates trained leaders in Nature's Notebook system and highlights them on the LPL Certified Leaders page

NOTE: this is not a class designed to teach the specifics of the phenophase protocols and intensity measures, although you are introduced to them. There are resources on our website, such as our Primers, designed to take a deeper dive into those things and we periodically host advanced trainings on those subjects. This course is designed to get you the resources you need to begin thinking about implementing a long-term phenology monitoring program using Nature's Notebook at your site.

At this time we are only able to enroll participants who are in the United States and able to contribute observations to our Nature’s Notebook phenology monitoring program.

The cost of the course is $55.00. If you'd like to receive information about future courses, sign up at the Interest List link below.

For more information on Local Phenology Programs and Local Phenology Leaders, see our Local Phenology Program Planning Guide. This Guide also serves as the course Handbook.

*Participants should plan to spend about 5-8 hours a week on the course. Depending upon your experience it may take slightly more time each week.

Interest List

What are the benefits of becoming a Certified Local Phenology Leader?

1. You will learn how to create and implement a sustainable long-term Nature's Notebook phenology monitoring program that lasts for more than 2 years.

2. If you successfully complete this Course, you will be recognized as knowledgeable about the USA-NPN monitoring and programmatic protocols and are able to train others. A flag in our database will indicate you are a "Certified" Local Phenology Leader enhancing Quality Assurance of the National Phenology Dataset. Your achievement will be publicly recognized on our website.

3. Join a community of other leaders, some of whom are just getting started and others who have been monitoring with volunteers for over 10 years. There are monthly meetings available for you to ask questions and get fresh ideas to help you with your programs.

Course learning outcomes

  1. Define phenology and the importance of phenology to scientific research
  2. Use Nature’s Notebook online science program to keep track of phenology observations 
  3. Explore the phenology protocols for plants and animals and the resources available through Nature’s Notebook for making observations
  4. Demonstrate how to set up and facilitate a Group monitoring site in Nature’s Notebook
  5. Synthesize information about a potential phenology monitoring program
  6. Develop a programmatic approach to initiating, maintaining, and evaluating a sustainable multi-observer Nature's Notebook program.
  7. Identify solutions for common barriers to participation and the sustainability of a phenology program involving volunteer management
  8. Construct content to engage new observers in phenology monitoring 

Major course deliverables

In addition to learning how to use the Nature's Notebook online system you will be required to create one of each of the following, which will help you get started at your site:

  1. A Program Planning materials to help you develop a sustainable program
  2. An original Phenophase Photo Guide to be used as a supplemental guide for your monitoring program
  3. A creative piece, such as a Nature's Notebook advertisement video, an introductory powerpoint presentation to be used for training your volunteers, or an original brochure or flyer to advertise your program

Brief course outline

Week 1 Welcome and overview of course
Week 2 Introduction to phenology and Citizen Science
Week 3 The Nature's Notebook monitoring program
Week 4 The protocols
Week 5 Your data
Week 6 Program planning
Week 7 Community collaboration
Week 8 Putting it all together
Week 9 Work on end-of-course deliverables
Week 10 Sharing session with your cohort



Course Structure and Requirements

This is an all online, interactive, 10-week (approximately 60-80 hour) course.

The cost of the course is $55, which in addition to the Certification, includes a copy of the Botany Primer and a Nature's Notebook Certified Leader name tag. The $55 fee is non-refundable.

Each week will include a combination of background readings, videos, and an exploration of the Nature's Notebook website and its resources.  In order to receive a Certificate of Completion with 80 hours of Continuing Education Units, and receive some USA-NPN gear, you must satisfy the following requirements:

1: Participate in each weekly discussion to demonstrate your competency.

2: Each week you will be required to participate in one hour-long Online Meeting, with peers and USA-NPN Communicate and Connect Staff, to share ideas, ask questions of the experts and celebrate what you've learned. Meetings are on Fridays at 1 pm PST. You must attend 7 out of the 9 scheduled online meeting sessions to receive your certification.

3: Submit your three Major Course Deliverables.

The application for the Fall 2023 Cohort is now closed

If you are interested in future cohorts, please sign up for our interest list below.


For more information 

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