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2015 Recipient Rick Bonney


Rick Bonney

Rick Bonney of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has been selected as the winner of the 2015 Youth Environmental Science Medal presented by Youth Learning as Citizen Environmental Scientists in recognition of his long-standing contributions to youth doing science.


Rick joined the full-time staff of the Ornithology Lab in 1983 and in 1989 was named director of the Lab’s education program, a position he held for 15 years. During that time he focused on developing projects in which the public actively engages in scientific investigations in partnership with Lab scientists, a concept now known as citizen science. He co-founded the Lab’s citizen science program and for several years directed both the education and citizen science programs, supervising the development of Project FeederWatch, Project PigeonWatch, The Birdhouse Network, Classroom FeederWatch, the Great Backyard Bird Count, Urban Bird Studies, eBird, and BirdSleuth. He co-edited the second edition of the Lab’s Home Study Course in Bird Biology, which includes the Cornell Handbook of Bird Biology (Princeton University Press, 2004).

In 2005 Rick was named director of a new Lab unit, Program Development and Evaluation, founded to work more broadly on the public engagement in science. In that capacity he founded the website, which is devoted to building and supporting the growing field of citizen science; advised numerous citizen science projects developed and run by partner institutions; co-edited a book, Citizen Science, published by Cornell University Press in 2012; helped to found the Citizen Science Association; and continued to receive many awards from the National Science Foundation to support various aspects of public engagement in science.

Underlying Rick’s work are his efforts to understand the social and learning outcomes of various models of public participation in science. Toward that end he was lead of the CAISE inquiry group on citizen science in 2009 and editor of the Principle Investigator’s Guide to Managing Evaluation in Informal STEM Education Projects published by CAISE in association with the Visitor Studies Association in 2012. His team at the Lab of Ornithology is currently developing customizable tools for evaluating the impacts of participating in a range of citizen science project models and is employing these tools in the evaluation of several citizen science projects around North America. In 2015, the program that Rick directs was renamed Public Engagement in Science to better reflect its goals and objectives. All his work has embraced the participation of youth in citizen science that can be done independent of participant age.


Keith Wheeler congratulating Bonney after presenting the Medal

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