Get Involved

Operation Smart Water 

For our last program, Operation Smart Water, we are looking for citizen scientist and volunteers in the pilot areas.  This program aims to find ways to efficiently use water for plant life during time of water droughts, while also studying how watering plants can work with and against environmental factors to provide air cooling effects. Keep in touch with us through Facebook and subscribe to our monthly newsletter for regular updates on Operation Smart Water.

citizen science

cit·i·zen sci·ence

the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists.

Citizen science is a key element to the Earthwatch Urban Resiliency Program in Southern California. Partnerships between local residents and scientific researchers generates more research accomplishments and connects people from the coast to the desert in an environmental movement.

Volunteers make a direct contribution to scientific research, learn about trees, and gain perspective about the challenges of urban resiliency. The data is used by scientists at the University of California, Riverside to determine the water usage and cooling benefits of common urban tree species in Greater Los Angeles. The results help build urban resiliency in Southern California.

Scientists gain access to a wider geographic area and connect the public to the vision behind the research. The data collected is used to further our research and to inform decision-making about how urban trees positively impact the LA region ecosystem.

Past Opportunities

Operation Healthy Air

For our brand new program Operation Healthy Air, we are looking for citizen scientists and volunteers to kickstart our pilot sampling “campaigns” in Long Beach, and Chino, and the Inland Empire (e.g. Riverside and Redlands) in the summer of 2017. We will look to expand the program in 2018 to greater Los Angeles and other cities.

Operation Healthy Air is a partnership between national and local partners, community-based organizations, Universities, Aquaria and government agencies, and community members.

Resilient Trees

Scientists are doing research in Southern California and they are looking to people from local communities to help collect data about trees.  Volunteer or become a Certified Citizen Scientist and help influence tree planting practices in your neighborhood and contribute to our global understanding of how to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Looking for a more in-depth way of getting involved and/or want to collect scientific data on your own? Join an in-person training event or go through our online training course to become a Certified Citizen Scientist.


 Resilient Trees 3.0

We are looking for citizen scientists (Volunteers and Certified Citizen Scientists) to collect data on these ten specific tree species in greater Los Angeles, Riverside, and the Coachella Valley (from the beaches to the desert- regional map below) for Resilient Trees 3.0:

  • Canary Island Pine (Pinus canariensis)
  • American Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
  • Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)*
  • Brazilian Pepper Tree (Schinus terebinthifolia)
  • Red Ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon)
  • Broad-leaved Paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia)
  • Kurrajong (Brachychiton populneus)
  • Chinese Banyan (Ficus microcarpa)*
  • Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia)
  • Camphor Tree (Cinnammum camphora)

We plan to measure over 400 trees in 2017, taking detailed measurement of tree health, canopy and trunk size, GPS coordinates, and % permeable surface for 10 tree species that have widespread tree planting implications in our region. This program is a partnership between University of California, Riverside, Earthwatch Institute, and many Southern California nonprofits.

The study region represents a massive 150 mile-long geographical gradient. Volunteers and Certified Citizen Scientists will play an essential role in collecting enough scientific data to draw meaningful conclusions on how these trees use water and provide cooling benefits in different regions.  All 10 species are being considered as drought-tolerant trees, so understanding how each tree actually performs under different conditions will influence right tree right place planting practices for years to come.

We need your help to be successful.

The management of urban street trees, parklands, and forests is an integral and active part of urban planning to ensure vibrant green space, ecosystem services, and resilience for cities and municipalities. We rely on participants, educators, and partners to help spread the word and pitch in and help us record important data across the greater Los Angeles area and beyond.


Sign up for upcoming events or organize a custom event for your group.

Get Certified

Become a Certified Citizen Scientist to learn how to collect research-grade scientific data independently.

Become a Partner

See what organizations are working with us.
Search Earthwatch Urban Resiliency Program