Discover Life in America was organized in 1998 after over one hundred researchers, educators, government officials and other interested parties met to discuss the idea of an All Taxa (species) Biodiversity Inventory of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. DLIA Organization History
Discover Life in America was organized in 1998 after over one hundred researchers, educators, government officials and other interested parties met to discuss the idea of an All Taxa (species) Biodiversity Inventory of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Conference attendees agreed that an umbrella organization would be needed to manage the logistics of such a project; coordinating the research, raising and administering funds, developing facilities and infrastructure, and reaching out to the public through education and volunteer programs. Discover Life in America was born to address those needs.
On February 17, 1998 the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy hosted a meeting with Discover Life in America and members of the National Park Service to in support of the Smokies All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory. At this meeting...
Discover Life in America held it's first Board Meeting in the spring of 1998 where members elected officers and established standing committees to address education, science, communications, data management and development issues. Since that first meeting, DLIA has launched a website (www.discoverlife.org) which provides information on the inventory including; who is involved, how volunteers can participate, research findings and eventually, webpages on the natural history of every creature we find in the course of the ATBI. The organization also adopted a Charter, became incorporated, and applied for 501 (c) (3) status before meeting again in December for the second annual DLIA conference.
Spring of 1999 marked the inaugural field season of the Smokies ATBI and saw DLIA host researchers from around the world; providing free housing, logistical support and funding. Public interest in the project soared after articles appeared in the publications Science, Newsweek, National Parks and on National Public Radio. As a result, DLIA hosted volunteer training days and hosted Nature Quests during which researchers and volunteers combed the park for fungi, flies, soil Invertebrates and algae. The data collected during the Nature Quests yielded new species records for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as species completely new to science.
The organization's budget in 1999 was $110,000, of which over $73,000 went to support science and research. $5,045 was provided by private donors, $55,838 came from the Great Smoky Mountains National History Association, $44,600 from Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and $5,000 from Fuji Film of America.