Who We Are:
Naturalists, Researchers, and Engaged Citizens!

Mission Statement

To encourage Minnesotans to monitor phenology, share their observations, and use phenology to increase environmental awareness and education. Further, we strive to increase data collection using robust, standard protocols. Data will enable better understanding of the impact climate change has on the diverse ecosystems of Minnesota.


The Minnesota Phenology Network began in 2010 when a group of Minnesota naturalists and phenologists got together simply to share stories and their enthusiasm for the field. It wasn’t long, however, before they realized their expertise was more than just shop talk: Scientific and education communities across the state were eager for quality data on the timing of biological events as they relate to climate—everything from flowering dates and bird migrations to bug hatches, fish spawning and more.

Knowing that more observers yield more data, and more data lead to better science, the founders of the group were inspired to create a network of engaged citizen scientists to help gather that data—and the Minnesota Phenology Network was born. Using standardized yet simple observation methods developed by the USA-National Phenology Network, these citizen scientists have contributed hundreds of observations over the years, and the number keeps growing.

So does their impact. Thanks to these efforts, environmental education has been enhanced throughout Minnesota, and scientists are getting reliable data that’s helping them understand and respond to climate change.

Meet the Founders
Rebecca Montgomery
Professor in the Department of Forest Resources at the University of Minnesota, Rebecca leads all of the initiatives for the Minnesota Phenology Network.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Occidental College and a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Connecticut. Her specialty is plant ecophysiology and forest ecology, including a focus on how plants respond to climate change. Rebecca first started collecting phenology data in 2002 when she was living in the mountains of North Carolina and became fascinated with experiencing the changing of the seasons by returning to the same place repeatedly throughout the year. In her spare time, Rebecca can be found working in her garden, singing and exploring green spaces in the Twin Cities.
Chris Buyarski
Chris is a scientist at the University of Minnesota and he works closely with Rebecca on several phenology projects/experiments. He holds a bachelor’s degree in ecology and environmental science from Minnesota State University, a master’s degree in plant ecology from West Virginia University, and is an MBA candidate at the University of Minnesota-Carlson School of Management. He has been recording phenology since 2009 and is currently the leading contributor of phenology data to the USA National Phenology Network. Chris has an in-depth knowledge of ecology and a real passion for the outdoors. When he isn’t managing large field experiments and collecting phenology data, he is usually walking his dogs or fly fishing small trout streams.
John Latimer
John has recently retired from a 35-year career as a rural mail carrier near Grand Rapids, Minn., where he lives on 40 acres and regularly reports phenology data on 150 species. An expert naturalist, he continues to host a popular phenology program on KAXE public radio, as he has for more than three decades. In the rare moments when he’s not doing phenology, John can be found curling, snorkeling in Minnesota lakes, bicycle riding and reading about natural history.
Peter Harris
Peter is the science projects coordinator at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minn. An experienced naturalist and expert birder, he is enthusiastic about using phenology in education. He has collected phenology and weather data for more than 25 years.
Josh Leonard
As education director at Belwin Outdoor Science, Josh leads outdoor science programming for over 10,000 St. Paul Public School students on a private ecological preserve located near Afton, MN. He has aligned Belwin’s curricula to state science standards, rebooted Belwin’s phenology record keeping and trained teachers how to teach kids outside. Prior to Belwin, Josh taught an Advanced Placement environmental science course at Como Park Senior High School. He has helped lead his community in environmental education through his involvement with the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom, Minnesota Phenology Network, Minnesota Naturalists Association, Minnesota Department of Education and the U.S. Green Building Council.