There are 14 species of frogs that live in Forsyth County, and that’s far from the only information on local frogs.
In recent years, locals have taken part in a frog monitoring program consisting of members of Keep Forsyth County Beautiful, the Forsyth County Master Naturalists and students and teachers with Whitlow Elementary School.
“There are 14 species of frog in Forsyth County, and each of them has a different call,” said Kevin Smith, with keep Forsyth County Beautiful. “We’ll go walking on the [Big Creek] Greenway after dark and document what species we’re hearing … With that information, you can create maps that show range, distribution and things like that and how habitat altering is affecting the populations here in Forsyth County.”
Smith said the program allows locals to track data and do some simple science.
“The response to it has just been extraordinary,” he said. “We have a manual. We have a database, and it’s a really neat way for volunteers of all ages to get involved in some very simple, low-impact citizen science. As a matter of fact, my largest group of volunteers are second graders with Whitlow Elementary School. I have about 200 kids that are certified through that program and are certified to collect data about the frog population.”
Donna Adams, a teacher at Whitlow, said for the school’s STEM programming for second-grade students needed a year-long project. She said the students began with discussions of all animals and landed on frogs as she had a friend who was a Master Naturalist.
“That sort of came about because beside the school they took down a bunch of trees, and lots of animals lost their habitat. We began talking about when animals lose their habitat but narrowed it down to frogs,” Adams said.
Adams said Smith had presented at the school and gave students a 10-question test on frogs, including a written portion and a test of frog calls.
“They have to know the difference between a spring peeper and a northern tree frog,” she said. “We have great success with our students passing both of those tests.”
The program, Adams said, has had a big impact on students. Some have told her they want to be scientists when they grow up. Others who did not take part as much in other projects have shown more interest after beginning the frog monitoring program.
Due to the age of the students, Adams said she is aiming for more parental involvement in going out to collect data.
Melinda Wilkins, who said she was the frog program chair with the master naturalists, said the program monitored the number of frogs in the local area.
“We’re just basically trying to find out how our frog population is doing,” Wilkins said. “It’s a good indicator of how the environment is doing.”
When citizen scientists are out on the greenway, there is a procedure to follow.
“We have listening stations, which are labeled with little frogs on the greenway,” Wilkins said. “We stand there for about three minutes and let the frogs acclimate to our presence … then you just listen for calls.”
Once the information is gathered, Franklin Ford, also a master naturalist, compiles the information where it can be accessed by members of the program.
“Essentially, we’re just trying to keep it pretty simple and straight-forward so we can gather data,” he said.
More information on the program is available at FCMasterNaturalists.com/frogs-and-toads/.