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Announcing the City Nature Challenge!

February 28, 2017

citizen-science-day-logo-white-backgroundIn the fall of 2015, the federal government announced National Citizen Science Day.  Citizen science leaders, participants, and supporters offered a huge variety of experiences and activities on the first Citizen Science Day, everything from symposia to bioblitzes.  At the Museum, we celebrated with our Citizen Science Fest at Prairie Ridge.  We offered citizen science focused walks, had project leaders from across the Triangle show off their projects, and encouraged everyone to participate in a statewide bioblitz-off through iNaturalist.  We competed against several other sites in the bioblitz-off, including the NC Arboretum in Asheville, the Kathleen Clay Edwards Library in Greensboro, and the Cape Fear Botanical Gardens in Fayetteville.  The Kathleen Clay Edwards Library took the top spot the first year and we documented several hundred species across the state during the event.

This year we’re doing a bioblitz-off again, but we’re competing in two different ways.  We’ll compete against several sites in the state like we did last year, but we’re also taking part in the City Nature Challenge.  The CNC pits several major metropolitan areas against one another to see who can document the greatest biodiversity on iNaturalist over a five-day period in April.  We’re up against some stiff competition, including several cities that are much larger than Raleigh, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, and Miami. We have our work cut out for us!  However, given our amazing local biodiversity and the diversity of habitats we have throughout the Triangle, we have a great shot at taking the top spot in the competition and showing the rest of the country just how amazing our citizen scientists are.

Pine warbler

Pine Warbler. Photo by Chris Goforth.

Want to get involved in the CNC? It’s easy!  First, you’ll need an iNaturalist account.  Visit inaturalist.org or download and open the iNaturalist smartphone app for Android or Apple to make your account.  Then grab whatever camera you have and start snapping photos of anything living you come across in the Triangle Area between Friday, April 14 and Tuesday April 18. Don’t forget to look for mosses, lichens, insects, and the other small and often overlooked species!  Upload your photos with the location where you took them to iNaturalist.  Our project is set up so any observation made April 14-18 within the greater Triangle Area will automatically contribute to the competition, but if you’d like to help us out in our statewide project, consider joining and contributing to our Natural North Carolina project too!

We’re scheduling several activities and programs to help you get involved in the CNC.  On April 14, we’ll have biodiversity-themed talks downtown in the SECU Daily Planet Theater, hands on training on how to use iNaturalist, and guided walks outdoors to collect data downtown.  On April 15, join us at Prairie Ridge in western Raleigh for hands on iNaturalist training, guided walks that focus on a variety of plant and animal groups, and learn more about the City Nature Challenge from local experts.

Mountain Mint flowers

Mountain Mint. Photo by Chris Goforth

We’re competing against other large cities, but you can compete against other locals as well.  We’ll have giveaways for participants at Prairie Ridge on April 15 and have prizes available for the top contributors during the event.  Prizes include insulated water bottles, copies of our Museum’s very own Caren Cooper’s new book, Citizen Science: How Ordinary People Are Changing the Face of Discovery, cell phone lens attachments, NC Science Festival t-shirts, and other fun items that will help in your future citizen science adventures.

We hope you’ll join us as we attempt to take down cities ten times our size and put the national spotlight North Carolina’s biodiversity!  We think we have some of the best citizen scientists in the world.  With your help, we can show everyone else just what we’re capable of!

For more information about the scheduled City Nature Challenge events, please visit the Museum event listing at http://naturalsciences.org/calendar/event/city-nature-challenge-triangle-area/.

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