Masks recommended at all times. Due to weather, the Butterfly Rainforest will close Friday at 3 p.m. and reopen Sunday at 1 p.m. More Info

Now that you watched Dave Blackburn’s video on how to use the iNaturalist app, why not go try it out and join thousands of people in the City Nature Challenge 2020?

Didn’t watch the video? Here you go:

Okay, NOW that you’ve learned how to use the app, let’s go do science! Socially distant of course.

What is the City Nature Challenge?

orange patterned butterfly against trees and sky
Florida Museum photo by Kristen Grace

Years ago, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and California Academy of Sciences created a challenge to get citizen scientists out into their urban and suburban nature areas to document biodiversity. What started out as a small rivalry has evolved into a worldwide annual campaign to bring people to nature, and nature data to scientists.

This year the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo and UF/IFAS Extension partnered to register Alachua County as a zone for the annual challenge.

Ready, set… GO!

From April 24-27 Alachua County residents are encouraged to log their plant and animal finds on iNaturalist. If you can ID what you find, great. If you can’t, log it anyway and let the iNaturalist community help ID it for you.

You don’t have to do anything special to contribute your observations to the City Nature Challenge. Simply upload your observations to iNaturalist as you normally would during these days. The meta data on the images will tell the app when and where he photos were taken, and your discoveries will be logged towards our zone if they were taken within Alachua County.

Not in Alachua County? There are hundreds of cities registered around the world. And if you aren’t in one of those cities, do it anyway. The more biodiversity info available to researchers, the better. You never know what amazing discovery you’ll make!

What about #SocialDistancing?

Yes, this is important. This is usually a competition, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, organizers have adjusted the intention of the event to be collaborative and healing. Their official guidance is:

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made some modifications to the City Nature Challenge to help keep our organizers and participants safe. Firstly, this year’s CNC is no longer a competition. Instead, we want to embrace the healing power of nature and encourage the collaborative aspect of the CNC. This will allow people to safely document biodiversity in whatever way they can, even from the safety of their own homes if necessary. We urge all participants to carefully follow public health guidelines provided by your local governments, as they are changing in real-time. Individual safety and public health are our utmost priority. Please refer to our COVID-19 FAQ page for more information.

Contribute how and when you feel safe and comfortable. If you can only visit your own backyard, do it. You’ll be surprised what you find!