Integrating Natural Resources Education and Citizen Science Communication through the Use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (Drones)

Dr. David Kulhavy, Dr. Daniel Unger, Dr. I-Kuai Hung, Dr. Chris Schalk, Dr. Yanli Zhang, Reid Viegut


Science communication is increasing through the use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) or drones. Within the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU), UASs such as the DJI Phantom 4 Pro and Mavic Mini2 drones were used by students and faculty to study mistletoe, crapemyrtle and fire ants and then drone images were uploaded to iNaturalist, the largest repository for flora and fauna specimens to share with the scientific community and general public. The benefits of using a UAS is that nadir (directly above) images of the specimens increase the locational accuracy of each specimen compared to distance images acquired from a smartphone. By incorporating drones into course works at SFASU, faculty are increasing the technological abilities of students to communicate natural resource information to a greater audience as a citizen scientist. With ever increasing capabilities and lower cost, UAS are becoming a viable alternative to smartphones for communication of science, especially for iNaturalist. The ability to communicate science information and display images adds a dimension for the citizen scientist to use a UAS in teaching and information exchange while creating a well-rounded, better informed, and more employable student upon graduation.

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Copyright (c) 2021 Daniel Unger, David Kulhavy, Dr. I-Kuai Hung, Dr. Chris Schalk, Dr. Yanli Zhang, Reid Viegut

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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