Community Science

Using Community Science to Support Our Research 

The New York State Hemlock Initiative represents the efforts of scientists, natural resources professionals, and New Yorkers throughout the state, united in their love for hemlock trees and dedication to hemlock conservation. Our research relies on the data collected by community scientists to contribute to our larger scientific goals. Since our scope is statewide, we are supported by community scientists all over New York who help us find healthy and HWA-infested hemlock stands, assess tree health, understand the timing of important HWA life stages, and monitor for management success and biocontrol establishment.

Read about our opportunities below, then email to get started.

Collect Data, Anytime and Anywhere in New York

Surveying for Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA)
To understand the spread of hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) and know what areas may be at risk, we want to know where infestations are located.  You can help us by reporting your findings. For information on identifying hemlock trees and HWA you can use our Hemlock and HWA ID Guide. For more information on collecting HWA field data to aid our research efforts, visit our HWA Surveying page
For PRISMs: Statewide

Tree Health Assessment
Assessing tree health helps us understand more about how HWA is affecting hemlock resources around the state and find locations for biocontrol releases. Use our tree health assessment form to assign hemlock stands a composite score for tree health and biocontrol release potential. Additionally, landowners may use our form to assess their own trees’ health and plan management efforts.

HWA Boat Surveys
For boaters, anglers, and paddlers, it’s possible to scout for HWA when you’re on the water. Damage from HWA including pale, greyish foliage and dead or dying hemlock branches are easily spotted on shore. In the early summer, you can also detect HWA infestations if  you spot hemlocks with a lack of new, bright green shoots. You can hear more by reading about our boat survey on Skaneateles Lake.
For PRISMs: Statewide

Surveying for Pine Bark Adelgid (PBA) 
Our biocontrol program is currently in need of samples of pine bark adeglid. PBA is a native forest pest of white pine trees. We are collecting PBA samples as part of our biocontrol research. You can help us by reporting any PBA findings. To do this, use our Report HWA Finding form and checking the box noting that you are submitting a PBA sighting.
For PRISMs: Statewide

Reporting Healthy Trees
In areas that have been heavily infested, knowing whether or not trees are healthy is important for our research program. Community scientists in the Lower Hudson region, the southern Catskills, and in New York City or Long Island can help our program by reporting the presence of healthy or uninfested hemlocks. If you are in a heavily infested region in New York, you can tell us about healthy trees by emailing

Get Trained for our Community Science Programs

The following opportunities require attending a training event:

HWA Phenology Monitors
 is the study of the timing of and organism’s major life stages. Our HWA Phenology Monitors help us survey a particular location and record the timing of HWA’s major life stages at that location. This increases our understanding of HWA behavior and helps us plan biocontrol release at sites around New York State. Note that trainings for phenology occur before the fall (aestivation break) and winter/spring (egg-laying) HWA life cycle stages. If you are interested in collecting data for the HWA Phenology Project, email Nick Dietschler at

NYSHI Train-the-Trainer Program
The Train-the-Trainer program helps increase the capacity of the NYS Hemlock Initiative to educate and train volunteers around the state and provides hemlock and hemlock woolly adelgid materials for use by local environmental educators and organizations. Potential trainers must have strong hemlock and HWA identification skills, be able to use powerpoint for presentations, and be familiar with using iMapInvasives for reporting HWA findings. If you have any questions about the Train-the-Trainer program, email Charlotte Malmborg at
For PRISMs: Statewide

Opportunities for Landowners

Food Collection Sites
A critical part of our biocontrol program is maintaining a healthy lab colony of biocontrol insects. Our biocontrol bugs only eat hemlock woolly adelgid, so to maintain the lab colony we must provide food for these predators by harvesting HWA-infested hemlock branches throughout the year.  We are currently seeking landowners to help provide food for our biocontrol bugs. To find out how you could help, email us at

Hemlock Hedge Insectary Host
We are currently searching for landowners around the state who have hemlock hedges on their properties that could be used as hedge insectaries to host colonies of biocontrol insects. The purposes of hedge insectaries are to expand our biocontrol breeding capabilities beyond the laboratory space of our biocontrol research facility and to provide local HWA-predator colonies for easy transport to wild release sites. Have a hedge that you think would be a good fit for our program? Use our hemlock hedge questionnaire to send us information about your hedge.