Watch the Wild™


Watch the Wild™ needs your help. As a Watch the Wild™volunteer, you observe and report the "wild" in your community, from trees and plants to lakes and streams to weather and wildlife activity. In as little as ten minutes, your observations help us to understand how our ecosystems are changing and helps us to adapt for the future.

Becoming a Watch the Wild™ volunteer is very easy. All you need to do is:

  • sign-up to be a volunteer with Nature Abounds
  • choose a location to observe, whether it be your backyard, a local park, your favorite beach spot, or an area that you visit or hike in regularly
  • record your observations and
  • report your observations to us. 

Your observations will then be shared with interested scientists. 

Steps to Getting Started

Step 1 - Fill out your Volunteer Application.

Step 2 - Choose a site and enter a complete a Site Description form.

Step 3 - Record your Observations

on Flora, Fauna, Weather etc. 

Why Watch the Wild

 Due to the increased emissions of greenhouse gases, among other factors such as urban sprawl, Poor waste management practices, and over consumerism, our environment is rapidly changing. Watching the Wild offers a practical way to learn how our eco-systems are changing by engaging citizens in monitoring changes in their local community from wildlife activity to wild weather, and from water issues to environmental disturbances.

Seasonal changes are impacting on our ecosystems, and wildlife species are suffering. We are witnessing changes such as migration patterns and breeding seasons of various wildlife species, decreased food supplies for fish and mammals, as well as variations in water temperature and water chemistry. Additionally, these changes do not only affect wildlife, but it also affects trade, transportation, outdoor recreation, and tourism.

We all need to be concerned with the changes happening across the globe. By Watching the Wild, we can observe what is taking place, and then adapt accordingly. 

Frequently Answered Questions

Q: What happens to my data?

 A: Your observations are entered in to a secure database. While the data is not shared publicly, Nature Abounds may share some or all of your information with reputable scientists, research institutions, and government agencies. Additionally, Nature Abounds is a partner of the National Phenology Network. 

Q: I live out in the middle of nowhere. Are you still interested to what is happening in my area?

 A: We are interested in the information from all areas. The more people reporting from diverse geographical locations the clearer the picture we will have on what is happening in this great big country. Your area may be isolated from some of the effects of industry and human habitation therefore your  data is affected by fewer factors and may be able to give a clearer picture of what is happening in our ecosystem.  

Q: How often should I submit my data?

 A: Every volunteer's submissions timing is a little different. Some volunteers submit information after every observation, some report once every couple weeks, and others are saving their report for submission until after several observation events. It's really up to you as to how often you'd like to submit your observations.  

Q: I'm also an IceWatch USA volunteer. Is it possible to submit data for both programs together?

 A: We invite your participation in both opportunities. As of now, your IceWatch USA observations need to be submitted separate from your Watch the Wild observations. If this changes in the future, we'll let you know. 

Q: I was on vacation and made some interesting observations, should I or can I submit those?

 A: Yes, of course. We would love to hear about your observations. Please submit them along with a Site Description Form for the location where you made them along with your regular observations. 

Getting Started Watching the Wild


Step by step instructions for getting started with

Watch the Wild™

1. Select your observation location*. Choose from the options below:

  • Choose a Site that you frequent. An example would be your backyard or neighborhood, a local park, your favorite beach spot, or an area you frequent. Note a "site" can be an area with up to a 1 mile radius roughly from a specific point or smaller.

Enter your Site information on the Site Description form.

* Note: you can have more than one site to monitor if desired, but each site must be treated and reported on individually.

2. Research your chosen location and submit a description of your location(s). Description should include the following information:

  • Latitude and Longitude. If observing activities on a route you frequent, please include the  latitude and longitude coordinates of both the starting and ending locations. 

3. Watch and report on wildlife. (ask the Volunteer Team for your state's Resource list for help identifying wildlife.)

  • What wildlife you observe either by sight or by sound,  
  • Wildlife tracks you spot.

Please submit photo(s) if possible

Note that it's important to report on wildlife that's alive and wildlife that you might see that's not alive. By reporting on all types of wildlife, we find out about what goes on in the day as well as what happens in the night hours.

Remember to report not only what you see or hear, but also what you should be seeing and/or hearing, but are not.

For example, if you normally observe Blue Jays and they are not being seen or heard in your area, we would like that reflected in your observations as well.

4. Watch and report on wild flowers, trees,  and plants. (refer to the Resource list found on this page for help identifying flowers, plants, and trees)

  • What did you observe?

Example 1: I noticed that the maple trees' leaves are beginning to change to red.
Example 2: Garlic Mustard is on the border of my location,  and it looks like Mile-a-Minute is just beginning to show.
Example 3: the Mountain Pine Beetle is beginning to affect   a stand of pine trees at my location.

Please submit photos.

5. Watch and report on wild weather.

  • Report on basic weather events like snow and rain but also on more extreme events, such as hail, sleet, thunder, lightning, tornado, hurricane, flooding, and drought.
  • Days that the temperature reaches 100 or more degrees.
  • Boiling Water and Drought notices--water restrictions in the immediate and surrounding areas.
  • If known or announced, is your area's water table below normal or above and if so, how much?

6. Report on Water Conditions (if monitoring a site near water)

  • What did you observe?

Example: water color was grayish or a sheen on the water was noted. Also for example: dead fish or birds were observed floating on the water.

7. Record your observations on the Watch the Wild Observation form

  • Accurately record your observations


Q: Is it necessary to include Latitude & Longitude on the observation form? How do I find them?

  A: Besides the observations, latitude and longitude coordinates, along with the date, are the most important information you can provide, This is the only way to tell exactly where your observations are coming from so we can map and record them in our database. Likewise, this is the only way we can assess what is changing in the world around us is to compare observations from the same locations over time.