Teaming Up Citizen Scientists to Protect America’s Longest Free Flowing River
As a college professor of environmental science and past president of a local Audubon chapter, Kayhan Ostovar understands too well the pressing conservation issues in his community.
A natural-born leader with a knack for inspiring and organizing people, Kayhan has an impressive conservation action track record. He co-founded a non-profit in Africa to empower Maasai youths to take a stand against poaching, delegated a Population and Environment Conference in Ethiopia, and coordinated the first Bioblitz in Montana.
Kayhan’s Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship helped continue his conservation efforts, focusing specifically on water quality and helping to develop the Yellowstone River Important Bird Area by harnessing the charisma of local osprey. These birds are affected by the same threats to the ecosystem as humans, including rising mercury levels, and are valuable bio-indicators of environmental health. Kayhan worked with students from Rocky Mountain College to expand an osprey monitoring program to assess their health. The college students teamed up with citizen scientists, the local Audubon chapter, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and several power companies to provide safer nesting sites for these birds. (The opsrey currently nest on power poles due to lack of suitable habitat.)
In order to ensure successful monitoring, Kayhan has worked to involve more local participants, including nontraditional partners such as the local Native American communities, ranchers, and irrigation districts. By tapping into the power of citizen science, Kayhan is able to help make his community safer for wildlife and humans alike, while engaging a wide range of backgrounds in conservation work.