During the winter of 2004/2005, John Pickle, who worked at the Museum of Science in Boston, was thinking of ways to record the seasonal changes in the local park using a digital camera. At the time, he was in charge of a NASA-funded, seven-institution science education project to help people learn how to use plants to measure local environmental quality (Measuring Vegetation Health). He shared his interest with fellow FoMRP board members, and the group of David Bean, Tom Gonsiorowski, Ellen Reed, Clarissa Rowe, and John came up with the concept and built the first PicturePosts. FoMRP members installed two posts during a weekend clean up of the park in April 2005.
Working with members of the Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation (FoFPR in Cambridge, MA) Jean Rogers (park ranger), Elizabeth Wylde, and Bob Forrester, two posts were installed at Fresh Pond Reservation in March 2005.
During the past three spring semesters, teams of college students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute have advanced this citizen science effort, which are long-term efforts supported by citizens that collect scientifically valuable data about the local environment. In 2005, Keyla Arnal, Sarah Doyon, Erin Ellsworth, Jason Sansoucie developed a self-analysis process for parks and community groups to evaluate their capabilities to run citizen science projects. Their work stressed the need of an efficient, low-cost system for the collection and distribution of data over an Internet-based system. In 2006, Jessi Amt, Brian McDonough, Ormar Pinango, and Brent Shannon developed illustrated guides for using the PicturePosts – taking photos, uploading pictures to the website, using the website, and analyzing the pictures to monitor environmental change. In 2007, Russell Kernan, Jeff Madden, and Cara Messier created educator guides and developed a network of posts across Massachusetts and Rhode Island. They also installed two additional posts in Menotomy Rocks Park.
Responding to an inquiry e-mail in 2006, David Cook, Vice President of Sales and Marketing of EPS Plastic Lumber, developed a PicturePost cap, calling it a RADCAP (Repetitive, Accurate, Photo PostCap), out of plastic lumber, which minimizes the maintenance of the cap for many decades.
You may purchase a pre-made PicturePost cap made from recycled plastic here.