Citizen Science Saving our Species: Meet Geetha Ortac

Geetha Ortac holds a Master of Science in Wildlife Health and Population Management with the University of Sydney and she is the Scientist for Saving our Species. This is her story.

Geetha Ortac, Scientist, Citizen Science Saving our Species Partner Program

While studying, I actively volunteered with a number of initiatives which landed me my first position as a Citizen Science Officer with the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA). During my time with NPA, I designed and delivered ‘Who’s living on my land?’ Citizen Science (CS) project, focusing on camera surveys across private land with the community – followed by ‘Dragons of Sydney Harbour’, focusing on urban wildlife using Eastern water dragon as a narrative species.

My first Masters research essay was about CS. I view CS as a valuable tool. When designed well, this program supports environmental outcomes and connect the community to science. The Science Division developed the Citizen Science Strategy to help ensure all CS undertaken by OEH is both engaging for the community and helps guide decision-making.

Over the years, I have experienced numerous positive outcomes, particularly from the community which served to strengthen my love for CS work.

Citizen science volunteers at Bellingen River with Geetha OrtacThen, a year ago, I joined OEH. In my current role, I provide CS support to priority Saving our Species projects. My day-to-day work involves providing best practice advice on CS project design, seeking funding to support projects (where possible), partnership development and management, among other tasks.

Two projects I helped design and implement include Bellingen Riverwatch and Saving our Species on DigiVol.

Geetha also spoke of National Science Week.

In previous years, citizen science has been a big focus of our Science Week effort. Last year, OEH partnered with Wildlife Spotter and this was deemed a huge success, with over 50,000 participants.

Science Week creates engaging activities to help people learn and connect to our work. It also creates a sense of curiosity about science. This year, I assisted with ‘Brain Break’, a science trivia put together by our Science Communications Officers. It brought together colleagues from different areas across OEH battling for the trivia champion trophy. It was good fun!