The Amateur Scientist; July 1996; Scientific American Magazine; by Carlson; 2 Page(s)
Naturalists are among the most passionate of scientists. Their deepest wish is to get close enough to record a species' most intimate behaviors but not so close as to disturb the animals. This desire for intimacy is indelibly etched into a naturalist's soul and is so strong that many spend years in the wild seeking new scientific understanding of their subjects.
Sadly, few amateurs can devote years of their lives to fieldwork. But that doesn't mean enthusiasts cannot make important contributions. Thousands have already joined the ranks of urban naturalists, studying species that live quite literally in their own backyards. A few have even distinguished themselves by developing new methods to uncover nature's secrets.