iCount Inclusive Science

icount logo with text and birds

iCount is an all-inclusive community science initiative started at Stark Parks. Community science empowers everyone to be a scientist- to be curious about the world around them, to make observations, to collect data, and to contribute to global scientific knowledge. iCount exists because every individual can make a difference in the world of science. Every single observer and every single observation is important.

iCount volunteers of all abilities observe birds at the Wildlife Conservation Center and document the number of individuals and what species they are seeing outside of the window in the Classroom. The view from the window includes a bioswale, bird feeding stations, as well as open sky, forest, and trail. The data gathered by the iCount volunteers is put into iNaturalist and eBird, contributing to national and international scientific studies, as well as shared with our own Natural Resources department.

Groups working in the iCount Program include the Rebecca Stallman Southgate School and Siffrin Academy. These organizations provide educational and experiential services for persons with special needs. Together, these two groups have made 422 observations recorded on iNaturalist, and have submitted 42 eBird checklists. They have documented 32 species of birds, plants, mammals, and insects. Some of the most memorable sightings have included the first Bald Eagle reported to eBird at Sippo Lake Park’s Wildlife Conservation Center and walking trails.

The addition of a Nature's Sound speaker system by a generous donor, allows participants to hear the sounds being made outdoors and creates an immersive birding experience, as volunteers of all abilities are able to work to identify birds by sight or by sound. The speaker system increases accessibility by opening up birding to those with varying sight abilities as well as to more auditory learners.