ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — North Carolina residents are heading outside to join other citizen scientists in the 2021 City Nature Challenge!
The four-day event, from April 30 to May 3, is all about celebrating the outdoors while engaging in the world of natural science.
Residents from across the state can join others worldwide by sending in photos of plants and animals found near them to the free mobile app iNaturalist.
Scientists then use the photos to help understand the outdoor world a little better.
Following the collection period that ends May 3, participants can then use the iNaturalist app to help identify wildlife found by others until May 9.
“No matter where you live, there is always something new and fascinating to find outside,” says Jonathan Marchal in a press release, regional organizer for City Nature Challenge WNC and director of education at The North Carolina Arboretum. “The City Nature Challenge celebrates that excitement of exploring our outdoor surroundings while engaging in scientific discovery throughout our state.”
A press release from The North Carolina Arboretum says science and environmental organizations across the state “will host in-person and virtual programming and other online activities representing the state’s wide range of natural environments and their incredible biodiversity.”
These organizations will link their participant’s observations to one of five lead institutions and their iNaturalist projects:
-The North Carolina Arboretum: Asheville and Western North Carolina
-Greensboro Science Center: Greater Piedmont Region and the Triad
-Oakboro Choice STEM School: Greater Charlotte Region
-The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences at Prairie Ridge: Triangle Region
-The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences at Whiteville: Coastal Plain
Here’s how to participate in the 2021 City Nature Challenge, provided by a press release from the NC Arboretum:
-Residents 13 years or older can download the free iNaturalist app on their iPhone or Android device, then join their region’s City Nature Challenge project.
-After that, it’s as easy as going outside and taking pictures of nature.
-Children 12 years or younger can submit their photographs through the ecoEXPLORE website, a free K-8 youth education program developed by The North Carolina Arboretum, and their photos which will then be added to their region’s iNaturalist project.
-There are even opportunities to learn more through specific classes and to earn special BioBlitz Badges.
The Arboretum says North Carolina residents uploaded observations of more than 32,000 plants, animals and other living organisms during the 2020 City Nature Challenge, and some expect this year’s challenge to have even more engagement.
“Nature does not have to be exotic to be exciting and informative,” Marchal says in the release. “A squirrel or a beetle or a backyard tree all offer chances to engage with our environment and observe what is happening outside all around us.”
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