(AP) -- Besides being a researcher in New York's Hudson River Estuary Program, environmental scientist Chris Bowser leads citizen projects that collect reams of data for other scientists.
His Steve Irwin-style exuberance and enthusiasm make Bowser an ideal leader in the rapidly expanding world of citizen science. In return for their volunteer work, these citizen scientists get hands-on experience and learn more about the world around them.
Once restricted mainly to counting birds - most famously, in Audubon's 111-year-old Christmas Bird Count - citizen science has expanded rapidly in recent years, both in number and variety of projects.
Some projects count things - fireflies, ladybugs, frogs. Others record data on water quality, weather or flower budding. Still others already have the data but need a lot of people to sort through it.
Explore further: Citizen scientist: Helping scientists help themselves