Phenology is the study of life cycle events in plants and animals. Recording phenology observations help us understand how species respond to a changing environment. Phenology is an important tool for Extension Master Gardeners because many garden processes are informed by life cycle events, including but not limited to pest emergence, garden design, plant response to moisture, and bloom times.
The USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) has partnered with Cooperative Extension programs across the United States to develop and deliver programming resources for youth and adults in line with community science, outreach, and education needs.
Nature's Notebook, the USA-NPN's professional and citizen science phenology monitoring program, links to the National Phenology Database developed to store phenology observations for the many unique environments in the United States.
Nature's Notebook is used to track seasonal and long-term changes in species response to a changing climate. Data from the National Phenology Database is used by scientists, researchers, land managers, and educators for decision making and interpretation. Information can be explored through the USA-NPN's online visualization tool or downloaded for further analysis.
The Nature's Notebook program can help answer local gardening questions and track community level changes in ecosystems. Extension offices and demonstration gardens in many states are recording phenology observation data to create bloom and gardening calendars, compare leaf-out and bloom times of plants across years, inform best practices in integrated pest management (IPM), track the influence of winter frost events on leaf-out times, and much more.
For more information on Cooperative Extension programs and Nature's Notebook, visit www.usanpn.org/cooperative-extension.
Read about phenology as an education tool on the Phenology Education blog.
Follow some of our Extension Master Gardeners as they share their Nature's Notebook phenology blog posts.
If you are an Extension Agent (Agriculture and Natural Resources, Family and Consumer Sciences, or 4-H) or are a Master Gardener Coordinator or volunteer and would like more information about how to incorporate phenology into your programming, contact LoriAnne Barnett, Education Coordinator at the USA-NPN, firstname.lastname@example.org.