looking around in your own backyard: iNaturalist and the City Nature Challenge

When we’re in the parks, one of our simple but favorite activities is just poking around in the dirt, grass, and trees to see what lives there. Maybe this looks like just a way to divert kids’ attentions and keep them occupied, but it is actually an essential part of doing science.

Starting tomorrow (April 24), you can participate in a citizen science project that employs this technique. It’s the 2020 City Nature Challenge:

https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2020-the-wasatch

You can see details on the project page, the Natural History Museum of Utah’s overview, and the Ogden Nature Center’s event page. In essence, this is a chance for all people to simply look in their local surroundings, including their own backyards and basements, for “wild and free” organisms, such as “spiders in your house, birds you see from your window, and dandelions in the grass” (as Ogden Nature Center describes) from Friday, April 24 through Monday, April 27. Then, you document your observations on iNaturalist, using either your computer or an app on your device. Since you create your own account on iNaturalist, you can continue to be a citizen scientist after the event, but this bio blitz of observations is a fun way to help document our natural world in a concentrated way and share the results with all of our neighbors. It’s a great way to bring the community together, do science, and learn new things in this time of social distancing and remote learning.

This is just one of many ways of observing the natural world, but we think it’s a great start and a great way for you to be a part of a real scientific project with your family. We’re excited to see and share what everyone finds in our community!


Quick Summary of City Nature Challenge 2020: