Nature’s Notebook

Connecting People with Nature to Benefit Our Changing Planet

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Phenology trails are excellent community engagement tools, designed to develop local partnerships.

Image credit:
Brian F Powell

Start a Phenology Walk or Trail

A Phenology Trail is a network of Nature's Notebook observation sites. Linked together, these sites provide the participant with places to visit, enjoy nature, collect data, and learn about supporting organizations. They provide researchers and managers a wealth of information about the phenology of local species of interest.   

You might want to start with a simple "Phenology Walk" at one location, with a pathway linking observation points together for data collection.  Each site has at least two species tagged for data collection.  Once you've established your Phenology Walk, recruit others in your community to do the same.  Then, you can link all of your sites using our groups functionality and create a Phenology Trail. A "Phenology Trail" is a series of Phenology Walks, or what we also refer to as Local Phenology Projects (LPPs) that may cover one location (depending on the size, if it is large, such as a National Park) or many locations. They key to this definition is that it includes a series of Phenology Walks or Local Phenology Projects, linked together.

Use this to celebrate the different ways we all engage in phenology observation on a daily basis. 

More information can be found on our Phenology Walk and Trail Planning Guide, linked in the table below. 

Why Create a Phenology Trail? 

  • Link local and regional phenology activities in a new way
  • Build connections between organizations with similar missions
  • Teach about the scientific method and native species
  • Use research data to answer local science questions
  • Create opportunities for more than one person to submit observations at a group site
  • Provide phenology and climate change education opportunities

Check out our ideas for making a phenology walk or trail on Pinterest!


 Examples of Existing Phenology Trails

All set up? Share your site with us OR consider hosting an annual Phenology Celebration! The USA-NPN's National Coordinating Office sponsors an annual Phenology Week during the first week of October each year.


Phenology Trail Development Resources

 

Trail Planning Materials

Phenology Walk and Trail Planning Guide

Phenology Trail Program Planning Worksheet

Sample Completed Phenology Trail Program Planning Worksheet

Templates

Editable Trail Species Sign Template

NOTE: Be sure to copy the phenophase definitions exactly as they appear in the Nature's Notebook monitoring program OR in the Simple Definitions linked below. This ensures consistency within the dataset.

Editable Trail Species Sign Template Instructions

Nature's Notebook Label Template - print on Avery 8160 labels or compatible.

Simple Phenophase Definitions for use on signs

Lessons Learned from the Field 

Building Plant Phenology Trails 

Recommendations for setting up a monitoring program from Valle de Oro Urban National Wildlife Refuge

Ask a question on our Local Phenology Leaders Listserv

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