Rebecca Montgomery teaching attendees how to identify plants along the phenology trail

Phenology: what is it? And why is it important?

These were questions that members of the community had when attending the citizen scientist training that was held on May 11, 2019 at the CMN campus. All attendees had the opportunity to have these questions answered by Rebecca Montgomery, Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota, and Menominee Tribal member Richard Annamitta.

Phenology is the study of plants and animals, their life cycles, and the effects that climate change has on them. Phenology is all around us: it is what we do in relation to the land and how one names the months of the year. It determines how long a growing season will be and when to harvest. For example, within the Menominee tribe, the black ash harvesters determine their harvesting by observing when the strawberries have ripened. These types of relationships are indicators as to when and how one is able to interact with the land.

The participants in the citizen scientist training had the opportunity to walk the SDI learning path. On this path Rebecca Montgomery and Richard Annamitta pointed out the different plants that the “Citizen Scientist” would be following and recording data on. The participants were also able to look at past data from other researchers and the changes this data revealed. Many of these changes were effects from the changes in the climate.

As an incoming phenology intern, this training was critical for each of us. It helped us to better identify some of the plants that we are following and to better understand the importance of the data that we collect.

Another important aspect that was learned at the training was, why phenology is important. Phenology is important because it affects whether plants and animals thrive and survive in their environments. We as humans depend on certain phonological events that help to determine what our food supply will or will not be.

This was a great learning experience for the phenology interns and community members who participated. We are looking forward to working with Rebecca Montgomery on future phenology projects.

-Kayla Cleveland

SDI Phenology Intern