Great Lakes Worm Watch

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Join an Ongoing Study

We have many partners across the Great Lakes region where you can participate in a variety of programs related to exotic earthworms.

If your state is not represented, help us start a collaboration!
Contact us, if you know of a program we don’t have listed below or if your organization would like to become a project partner.


Audobon Center of the North Woods

Audubon Center of the North Woods – Audubon College

We have partnered with Audubon over the years to provide an exotic earthworm component for a variety of their college and teacher training courses. Located in central Minnesota on Grindstone Lake, near the town of Sandstone, they offer cutting edge programs. Contact them to find out about upcoming earthworm opportunities.

Contact Information:
Phone: 320-245-2648, Toll Free: 888-404-7743

Boulder Lake ELC

Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center

Just 20 minutes north of Duluth, Boulder Lake ELC works with us to host annual training workshops for educators interested in conducting earthworm surveys and public programs (see Workshops for upcoming events). They are also very interested in working with groups or individuals who are interested in helping them to do baseline earthworms surveys in the 18,000 acres surrounding the Boulder Lake Reservoir.

Contact Information:
John Geissler, Director
phone: 218-721-3731

Dodge Nature Center

Dodge Nature Center

Located in the heart of the Twin Cities, Doge Nature Center provides a sanctuary for discovery and learning. With staff fresh from training in earthworm sampling and identifications, we look forward to helping them as they incorporate investigations of exotic earthworms in their preserve into public programs as well as their on-site pre-school. Contact them to find out about opportunities to explore and learn about earthworms.

Contact Information:
Peter Cleary
Phone: 651-789-5205

Eagle Bluff

Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center

Located in the southeastern corner of Minnesota near the town of Lanesboro, Eagle Bluff offers a variety of program for K-12 students, adults and families, including a professional naturalist internship. They have started an earthworm survey and monitoring program and with staff trained in earthworm sampling methods and identification, they offer a special opportunity to get involved.

Contact Information:
Valerie Slocum
Phone: 888-800-9558 (in MN, WI, and IA), 507-467-2437

Hartley Nature Center

Hartley Nature Center

In the summer of 2005 in the city of Duluth, Hartley started an ambitious project of monitoring plants and earthworms in replicated 10 x 10 m plots inside and outside of a new deer exclosure. Earthworms, plants and soil characteristics are sampled semi-annually and they would love your help, no experience necessary!

Contact Information:
Mark Horlocker, Public Programming Director
phone: (218)724-6735

School Forest

Minnesota School Forest Program

The Minnesota School Forest program offers great opportunities for students to get hand-on experience learning about forests. We would love to work with teachers across the state who are interested in surveying their school forests for earthworms as well as other organisms. If you would like to host a workshop in your area, let us know!

Contact Information:
Amy Kay Kerber, School Forest Coordinator
Phone: (651) 259-5272

The Science Center

The Science Center – The Maltby Nature Preserve

Sitting at the transition zone between the prairies of southwestern Minnesota, the oak and aspen savanna and the hardwood forests of the “Big Woods”, this site provide a perfect opportunity to explore the role of exotic earthworms in different ecosystem types. We look forward to offering training workshops with them in the coming years!

Contact Information:
Sil Pemberton, Leopold Education Project
Phone: 507-664-0770

Minnesota Zoo School

School of Environmental Studies – at the Minnesota Zoo

Located in Apple Valley, the “Zoo School” is a charter high school in Independent School District 196 of the greater Twin Cities area. They have incorporated hands-on inquiry learning about exotic earthworms into their curriculum. Each spring they do a “BioBlitz” where the students spend an entire day sampling everything they can, including earthworms, in the forests surrounding their school. In addition, student groups have conducted in depth studies to examine the potential relationships between earthworm abundance and the abundance of the invasive plant, European Buckthorn.

To find out more about this school, click here

Monarch Lab

Schoolyard Ecology Explorations for Middle and High School Teachers-Monarch Lab Summer Science Program

In 2008, we will again be partnering with the Schoolyard Ecology Explorations Program organized by University of Minnesota researcher Karen Oberhauser and the Monarch Lab Summer Science program to provide a half day training workshop for 90 middle and high school teacher, including background on the issue of invasive earthworms and an opportunity to practice hands-on sampling and identification in the field so that they could bring this great program to their students. Contact them to find out how you can get involved!

Contact Information:

Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge

Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge

Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge and the Friends of Sherburne NWR are working with Great Lakes Worm Watch to co-sponsor a citizen science project to determine the presence/absence, abundance, and effects of invasive earthworms on selected refuge habitats, including woodland, oak savanna, and prairie.  The refuge is located near Zimmerman, MN, just 50 miles from downtown Minneapolis and 30 miles from St. Cloud.

As you know if you have explored the Great Lakes Worm Watch website, the earthworms we find in our yards are not native to our region—all native earthworms were extirpated in the last period of glaciation. Although ideal for fishing, gardening, and composting, these “invaders” have had devastating effects on northern hardwood forests around the Great Lakes. Since there are no known data for the refuge or Sherburne County, the Friends of Sherburne applied for and received a grant to conduct a citizen science study of invasive earthworms at Sherburne Refuge and the surrounding area.

We invite YOU, your children, students, group members, friends, and neighbors to join us to learn about earthworms, extract earthworm samples from plots on the refuge, and submit data to the Great Lakes Worm Watch database. 

Contact Information:

Betsy Beneke, refuge Visitor Services Manager, 763-389-3323, ext. 13, or
Sue Hix, refuge environmental education volunteer, 612-269-1937, to learn how you may participate at the refuge.

Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge website
Friends of Sherburne NWR website or Facebook

St. Olaf

St. Olaf College – Dr. Kathy Shea

Since our serendipitous meeting in 2000, Dr. Shea and her students have been conducting earthworm research and surveys in Nerstrand State Park and other ecosystem on and around St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. In the 7 years of study at Nerstrand, they have found 7 different species, yet, not all species are everywhere and there is concerns among park managers about the spread of Lumbricus terrestris (nightcrawlers) which can eat tons of leaf litter each year, clearing the forest floor, and affecting all other forest floor organisms. Contact Dr. Shea to find out more about the programs St. Olaf offers and about potential research opportunities involving earthworms.

Contact Information:
Dr. Kathy Shea
Phone: 507 646-3396

Sustainable Forests

Sustainable Forests Education Cooperative

Part of the University of Minnesota’s College of Natural Resources, this program provide continuing education for natural resource managers across the state. We are happy to have been a part of this educational program by providing workshops on the ecological consequences of non-native earthworm invasions, and hope to do more in the future.

Contact Information:
Louise Levy, UMN Cloquet Forestry Center
Phone: 218-726-6404

Wolf Ridge

Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center

We have partnered with Wolf Ridge, near the town of Finland along the North Shore of Lake Superior, in two ways. First, through their Student Naturalist program, environmental educators of the future are being introduced to the issue of exotic earthworm invasions and trained in the methods of our citizen science program. Second, as the sponsor for North Shore Elementary Charter School, we do a guest appearance  with their 2nd grade students each spring to get our young naturalists out sampling earthworms in their school forest. Contact them to find out more about their programs.

Contact Information:
Phone: (218) 353-7414, toll free 800-523-2733 (MN, WI, ND)



LEAF – Wisconsin K-12 Forestry Education & School Forest Program

We partnered with Wisconsin School Forests and Wisconsin Nature Mapping (see below) in 2007 to offer teacher training workshops and an online data entry a viewing system. Teachers and students were excited to be the first people to collect monitoring data for earthworms and other organisms in their forest. A great opportunity to do real science in their own backyards. Find out how, and get involved!

Contact Information:
Jeremy Solin
Phone: 715-346-4907

Wisonsin Nature Mapping

Wisconsin Nature Mapping

We partnered with Wisconsin Nature Mapping in 2007 to offer an online data entry a viewing system for earthworms!  It allows you to select the place you sampled by clicking and zooming in on a map, enter data on the habitat and earthworms and then view your data and the data submitted by others across the state. As the database grows we will be able to start examining patterns in the distribution of earthworms and help guide us in future research and survey efforts. Hurry and you could be the first to submit data in your county! The data entry system you will see at Wisconsin Nature Mapping contains the same data fields you will find on our online data sheets (see Conduct Your Own Studies). So you can use our data sheets to get your Nature Mapping data ready for submission. You must be a registered user to enter earthworm data so contact us or Sarah (below) to get registered today!

Contact Information:
Sarah Braun, Citizen Science Director
Phone: 715-877-2212

Urban Ecology Center

Urban Ecology Center

In the heart of Milwaukee, you can find the heart of nature. The Urban Ecology Center offers a variety of citizen science opportunities. After a visit in 2007, I know there is a lot of potential for earthworm surveys and it is likely that there are big differences in which earthworms you find where along the river corridor. Contact them if you would like to be a part of this citizen science effort.

Contact Information:
Tim Vargo, Research Coordinator
Phone: 414.964.8505 ext116 

Wehr Nature Center

Wehr Nature Center and Milwaukee County Parks

Gems of nature within an urban setting, these parks offer exploration in forests, woodlands, prairie, wetlands and more. They also offer a great opportunity to better understand what factors affect exotic earthworm distributions, since we know that not all earthworms are found everywhere. Wehr Nature Center’s volunteer program offers opportunities to get involved, try it, you’ll like it!

Contact Information:
Pat Fojut
Phone: 414-425-8550

University of Wi, Barron

University of Wisconsin – Barron County

Dr. Tracy White, freshly trained in earthworm sampling and identification, is excited to get herself and her students involved in the study of earthworms in north central Wisconsin. With a tremendous mix of forest types, lakes and rivers, this region also holds great promise for finding areas that remain earthworm-free, nearly so, or only recently invaded. Such sites are of great interest because they allow us to learn more about the dynamics and patterns of earthworm invasions. Dr. White is particularly interested in how earthworms affect soil microbes called “nitrogen fixers”. Contact Dr. White to find out what she’s up to and how you can get involved.

Contact Information:
Tracy White, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences
Phone: 715-234-8176 ext. 5437


Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – National Park Service

In 2005, we conducted a study of beech-maple forests in Pictured Rocks and found some interesting results. Overall, beech dominated forests support much smaller earthworm populations than do sugar maple dominated forests. But even on very sandy soils, where you might not expect to find earthworms, if maple or other hardwood trees are present, earthworms can survive. More work is needed to further illuminate these patterns and what they may mean for the future of these forests. If you want to get involved in research here or in other 10 Great Lakes National Parks, contact us or the Great Lakes Research and Education Center

New York

Adirondack Ecological Center at the Huntington Wildlife Forest, SUNY ESF

Participate in research and educational programs at this biological station operated by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.  Pilot sampling for earthworms in 2006 revealed at least 5 species present in this remote region of the central Adirondack Mountains.  Worms were found at sites with a history of human disturbance and higher pH, while the old growth sugar maple-yellow birch-American beech forest was largely free of worms.  Partnerships include the Adirondack All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory and other groups exploring human-ecological systems in the Upper Hudson River Watershed.  Educational programs include K-12, college and public audiences.  Contact us to get involved, learn about or conduct earthworm and other biological studies.

Contact Information:
Stacy McNulty


Institute of Ecosystems Ecology and Cornell University

Drs. Peter Groffman leads a group of distinguished researcher at IES and Cornell University that has contributed a great deal of what we know about how earthworm affects forest soils and soil processes. Opportunities abound for students of all perspectives to get involved. Contact them find out more about their various programs.

Contact Information:
Dr. Peter Groffman, Institute of Ecosystems Ecology
Drs. Tim Fahey and Melany Fisk, Cornell University


Biodiversity Alliance

Biodiversity Alliance

Ohio’s Biodiversity Alliance is a collaborative among the Holden Arboretum, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Botanical Garden, and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo dedicated to conserving biodiversity and natural environments by collecting, disseminating, and applying scientific knowledge as part of the local and global conservation communities. A visit in fall of 2007 showed us that there is a lot to learn about the role of earthworms. At each of the three sites we visited, we found very different earthworm populations, and at least one site that appears to be earthworm-free!

We are planning on teaming up with the Alliance in 2008 to host the first “Big Worm Week”, a week in September when we will organize the troops to survey as many locations as possible for earthworms. We may even have an “earthworm ID party” to follow. Keep posted as this big event develops so you can get involved!

Contact Information:
Cathi Lehn, Conservation Program Director
Phone: 216-707-2826

Cleveland State

Cleveland State University – Dr. Ralph Gibson

Dr. Gibson was an excellent student of earthworm sampling and identification during our 2007 workshops in Cleveland. He is now ready, willing and able to get himself and his students involved in the study of earthworms in Ohio. The mix of forest types, soils and landforms in the greater Cleveland region offers many as yet undiscovered surprises when it comes to exotic earthworms, and we have a lot yet to learn.  Contact Dr. Gibson to find out what he’s up to and how you can get involved.

Contact Information:
Dr. Ralph Gibson, Associate professor – biology, geology, environmental studies
Phone: 216-687-2438


Indiana Dunes

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore - National Park Service

Through the Great Lakes Research and Education Center, in the summer of 2007 an intern conducted the first ever study of earthworms in the park. “A Short Survey of Earthworms in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore” showed that earthworm abundance and species diversity was higher at old homestead sites than in natural sites. There are many more opportunities for citizens and students to get involved in research related to exotic earthworms here and at other National and State Parks.

Contact Information:
Joy Marburger, Research Coordinator
Phone: 219-926-7561 ext 331

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