A small team of people make Backyard Phenology happen by integrating artistic practices, scientific research, place-based education, and other practices. The team collaborates with participants and the public to catalyze awareness of and action on climate change. Everyone in the project brings unique perspectives to phenology, while sharing the idea that phenology is a universal way to learn about the world and each other.
Disambiguation: What phenology is not.
Sometimes people confuse the term "phenology" with unrelated words, especially "phonology" and "phrenology".
Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies sounds of human speech and organizes them into systems.
Phrenology is a disreputable pseudoscience that purported to characterize people's personalities based on the shape of their heads.
Phenology is the study of cyclical and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate, and plant and animal life.
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- Project co-founders
- Current collaborators
- Partners and past collaborators
- Funding and affiliations
- Project background
Christine Baeumler is an environmental artist, as well as a professor and current chair in the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota who explores the potential of art as a catalyst to increase awareness about environmental issues and to facilitate stewardship. Her community-based environmental practice is collaborative and involves the ecological interventions on urban sites with attention to increasing biodiversity, providing habitat, improving water quality and the aesthetic dimension.
Rebecca A. Montgomery is a professor in the Department of Forest Resources in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and a fellow at the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. Rebecca's research focuses on understanding the role of plant functional traits in plant ecology and response to global change. She is interested in understanding how plants interact with and respond to their environments and the implications of these responses for forest dynamics, forest management, biodiversity and ecosystem function. This broad scope will allow for better understanding of the effects of global climate change on terrestrial ecosystems, ecology of forest understories, mechanisms of species interactions in forest ecosystems, and the ecology of managed forest ecosystems.
Beth Mercer-Taylor is one of the sustainability education program co-directors at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She administers the Sustainability Studies Minor, an interdisciplinary, free-standing program with nearly 200 undergraduates enrolled. Her work involves recruiting and advising students, creating community-building activities, coordinating the efforts of the curriculum committee that oversees the minor’s academic program, and leading new initiatives related to sustainability on campus.
Mae Davenport is a professor in the Department of Forest Resources in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and the director of the Center for Changing Landscapes at the University of Minnesota. Her research interests are focused on the human dimensions of natural resource management, specifically sustainable land use planning; community-based ecosystem management; recreation planning; and human beliefs, attitudes and behaviors associated with landscape change. Her research program has investigated community capacity for watershed conservation, stakeholder attitudes toward wetlands restoration, residents’ perceptions of the re-colonization of cougars in the Midwest, and recreational boating practices associated with aquatic invasive species and fish diseases. Mae is particularly interested in applying and expanding existing theories of community capacity in community health and development disciplines to the ecosystem management context. Much of this work is interdisciplinary and integrates biophysical and social sciences to better understand and address natural resource management problems.
Dr. Kate Flick (Anglo-American) grew up by the Tomorrow River in the central sands of Wisconsin. Before treaties in the 1800s, Menominee regularly inhabited the land (and water) there. The Tomorrow River is part of the spring-dappled waters of the Waupaca River, which eventually flow into Lake Michigan. She has served with the College of Menominee Nation (CMN) in a variety of roles and is grateful to continue working with CMN now as STEM faculty. She enjoys learning from and with a very special forest and its communities while facilitating learning experiences at tribal colleges. Her formal academic background has centered on place-based education through multidisciplinary lens in community and environmental sociology (BS, University of Wisconsin), forestry ecology and management (MS, University of Freiburg, Germany), art-infused natural resource science (PhD, University of Minnesota) and most recently geoscience (CMN, WI). She has explored and practiced STEAM education and community-engaged research in many places and institutions—including participatory action research in forestry projects in the Amazon, statewide K12 teacher professional development in environmental education with the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education, climate change narratives in metro Twin Cities, research with traditional ecological knowledge working alongside western scientific knowledge, formal and informal youth education, among others. She looks forward to working together to move towards a more diverse and land-centered education that focuses on place-based narratives of climate change.
Abbie Anderson is an artist, educator, and advocate of participatory science. She received her MSc in conservation biology from the University of Minnesota in 2018. Her graduate studies helped her understand urban ecology and the importance of public participation in science. Her passion for phenology began in childhood and led her to projects such as Open Phenology (2011-2014), Pesky Plant Trackers (2020-2022) and Season Watch (launched 2023). She enjoys learning with her family, botanizing with friends, listening to birds, biking, and making objects.
Christian Bell is a community-based theatre practitioner, educator, and scholar. He received his PhD in theatre historiography from the University of Minnesota in 2022.
|Chotsani Elaine Dean is an artist and an Assistant Professor of Ceramics in the Department of Art, College of Liberal Arts (CLA), at the University of Minnesota. She is the coauthor of Contemporary Black American Ceramic Artists (2022), Schiffer Publishing.|
- EcoExperience - Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
- Milkweed Press
- Minnesota Phenology Network
- Native American Medicine Gardens
- Northern Lights
- Season Watch
- Silverwood Park - Three Rivers Park District
- USA-National Phenology Network
- Wakan Tipi Awanyankapi
- Alex Adkinson
- Alyssa Baguss
- Randy Duerr
- Bree Duever
- Byju Govindan
- Sam Graf
- Emily Green
- Rachel Jendrzejewksi
- Nick Jordan
- Jessica Lackey
- Karsten Lennartson
- Rachel Nichols
- Lauren Schultz
- Jenn Shepard
- Jonnelle Walker
Holly Robbins and John Moes of This Is Folly contributed design services and helped develop Backyard Phenology's graphic identity.
Backyard Phenology participants act both as scientists and artists. They contribute scientific observations through participatory research (the Minnesota Phenology Network, a regional partner in the USA-National Phenology Network). They also add their experiences to a collective public art project that uses phenology to connect with the natural world. Keep an eye out for Backyard Phenology events around Minnesota and across the region!
The Climate Chaser mobile lab is a place to share stories about how climate change impacts our sense of place. It is an interactive platform that integrates well with community events. Facilitators in the camper serve as hosts, engaging visitors through dialogue, the collection scientific data, and documentation of stories through photos, videos, and audio recordings.
From June 2017 to September 2018, Backyard Phenology partnered with several metro area organizations, engaging community groups in a design process to develop site-specific “phenology walks” that include observation, artistic expression, and reflection.
- Flick, Kate. (2021). Building Place-Based Stories About Climate Change Locally: Ecocultural Calendars. Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/225117.
- Baeumler, Christine, and Rebecca Montomery. (2017). An artist, a scientist and a silver camper: Adventures in community engagement (video). Retrieved from the Institute on the Environment YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/live/1okM6H6GYMg?feature=share&t=289
- Hoff, Mary. (2017). 7 things we learned about science and community engagement. Retrieved from the Institute on the Environment news feed, http://environment.umn.edu/news/7-things-learned-science-community-engagement/
- Jacobson, Linda. (2017). Interdisciplinary systems promote sustainability in higher ed. Retrieved from the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundtation, https://cgmf.org/blog-entry/249/Interdisciplinary-systems-promote-sustainability-in-higher-ed.html.
- Karnas, Sarah. (2016). Sparking Climate Engagement Through Art and Community. Ensia. CC BY-ND 3. https://ensia.com/photos/sparking-climate-engagement-through-art-and-community/
- Schultz, Lauren. (2016). Backyard Phenology: The science right outside our windows. Retrieved from the Institute on the Environment news feed, http://environment.umn.edu/news/phenology-the-science-right-outside-our-windows/
Blog posts by Sam Graf: