Citizen Science

AVEO is the citizen science arm of the Harris Center, linking citizens with professional scientists to gather ecological data aimed at protecting and restoring the environment of southwest New Hampshire. The AVEO office is located at Keene State College, where we create active links between the College and the community and support research opportunities for undergraduate students. We are thrilled to engage volunteers in ecological research initiatives with the potential to inform local and regional conservation planning, including the Salamander Crossing Brigades, the Vernal Pool Projects, and Project Nighthawk.

Salamander Crossing Brigades

As the earth thaws and spring rains drench New Hampshire, thousands of salamanders, frogs, and toads make their way to vernal pools to breed. Many are killed when their journeys take them across busy roads. Each spring, we train volunteers to serve on Salamander Crossing Brigades at amphibian road crossings throughout the Monadnock Region. Volunteers count migrating amphibians and safely usher the animals across roads during one or more “Big Nights.” Since 2007, our Crossing Brigades have moved nearly 20,000 amphibians out of harm’s way! For more information, please visit our Salamander Crossing Brigade webpage.

Vernal Pool Project

Vernal pools are small, temporary ponds that serve as critical amphibian breeding habitat. Vernal pool-breeding species, in turn, exert a powerful influence on the ecology of the surrounding forest. Because they are small, seasonal, and often fall outside the realm of regulatory protections for permanent wetlands, vernal pools are especially vulnerable to development and other human impacts. We can only protect these critical ecosystems if we know where they are! To that end, we train volunteers to identify and document vernal pools, with special focus on lands where information is needed for conservation planning. For more information, please visit our Vernal Pool Project webpage.

Project Nighthawk

Most active at dusk and dawn, the call of the Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) was once a familiar sound in cities throughout New Hampshire, where the birds nested on flat gravel roofs and fed on insects attracted to city lights. In recent years, however, nesting nighthawks have disappeared from many New Hampshire towns; in the very few places where they remain, their numbers have dramatically decreased. Biologists are now trying to determine the cause for this precipitous decline. As part of this effort and in partnership with New Hampshire Audubon, we coordinate volunteer monitoring of the state-endangered Common Nighthawk in Keene. For more information, please visit our Project Nighthawk webpage.

Contact Us

For more information on these and other citizen science projects or to volunteer, visit AVEO on the web or contact Brett Amy Thelen at or (603) 358-2065.