Creating a New Group

Photo ©

Are you working with other people in your local community to create more habitat for wildlife? Do you help run an organization or club devoted to improving ecological functioning of your neighborhood? Then the Groups Tool is for you. This article shows you how to create a new group.

For a general introduction to the Groups Tool, read this article.

Or, to learn how to join a group, read this one.

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The first step to creating a new group is to check to make sure a group like the one you want to form doesn’t already exist. You do this by using our search tools. If you live in Ithaca, NY, you may want to form a local group to keep track of others in your town engaged in wildlife gardening. Open the Groups tool, and select Find a Group from the options in the lefthand menu. Type in search terms related to the group you want to form. In this example, I typed in “Ithaca” and it returned a group titled “Ithacans.” Besides searching for a place, you might search for a topic, if that is the kind of group you want to start, say, you want to connect with others interested in removing their lawns. You can also search for an organization. For instance, the CrowRoost Project uses the Habitat Network to keep track of their participants CrowMaps. Searching for “crow” would help you find that group.

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

If you don’t find a preexisting group, it is time to create one. Locate the green +Create a Group button. In the image above it is circled in black. Click it.

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The Create a Group page will open. Let’s walk through the different steps to create a group.


Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Step 1. Give your group a name and describe it. The name should be descriptive (you want people to be able to find your group). If it is a group focused in a particular community or town, use the name of that place in your group title. If the group is focused on reducing lawn sizes, or on managing deer in gardens, use those words in Group Title. Use the Group Description box to help people understand a little bit more about the purpose of your group. Describe who runs the group, and what your goals and interests are.

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Step 2. Tell us who the admins on the group will be. Since you are creating the group, you are automatically an admin. Once the group is approved, you can go back an edit this, if you no longer wish to be an admin. You can also nominate up to 3 other admins for this group. These must be existing Habitat Network participants. You will use their usernames, not their real names, to add them as admins. If you don’t use usernames, our software won’t be able to locate the people you nominate, so fill-out this section carefully. Once the group is approved, you can use Admin tools to add other admins, if you don’t know their usernames at this point in the process.

What is an Admin?

Admins are responsible for approving requests to join a group. When a person makes a request to add their map to the group, the admins receive an email. Admins will review the request to see if the map meets the requirements to join the group. For instance, the group may only want to include maps in a particular neighborhood, or maps of a particular kind (schools, as an example), or maps that meet a minimum threshold for completeness, or maps that belong to people who pay dues in your organization. These membership standards are pre-set by the person who creates the group.

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Step 3. Another choice that must be made while creating a group is whether or not the group will be private. The difference between a public and private group is pretty basic. In Public Groups, other project participants can see a list of sites in the group, find those sites on the map, and see the conversations happening between group members. In a Private Group other project participants cannot see the list of maps in the group, nor see them on the map. Additionally, any conversation that occurs on the group pages is hidden unless a person has joined the group.

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Step 4. The last step to creating a group is to set your membership conditions. For some groups this will be requiring a site is in a specific location. For other groups it might mean only allowing sites that meet certain conditions (yards without lawns, schools that participate in FeederWatch, maps that are complete). For other groups, particularly ones run by clubs or organizations, there might be a requirement that member sites are up-to-date on their dues. Whatever your case is, be explicit about your membership conditions and be willing to check-in to people’s claims about whether or not they meet those conditions.

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Step 5. Once you hit submit, your request to form a new group is sent to Cornell Staff. They may take up to 3 days to approve a request, but usually it will be much faster. Once your group is approved, you will receive an email (to the email address you created your citizen science account with) letting you know. At that point you should feel free to let people know about your group. You will receive a special link that you can share with people that will bring them directly to your group’s “Join this Group” page. People will need to have a citizen science account, and have created a habitat network to participate in your group.

Read more about What Groups Do.

Learn how to Join a Group.