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April is Citizen Science Month

This April marks the first Global Citizen Science month, and as luck would have it, it is also the first digital Global Citizen Science month!  

What does this mean? Well, citizen science is an effort to collect data for science from anyone willing to contribute. It aims to help us all better understand our world, and beyond. Making it digital allows you to enjoy nature and contribute to science, from the comfort of your smart phone or computer. This means we all can keep a safe social distance while exploring our natural world, and researchers can access this information from anywhere on the planet.  

So how do you participate and explore our natural world when most of us are indoors? There are tons of resources out there, so we’ve consolidated a few of our favorites to show how you can take part.  Check back in every week for new projects and activities that allow you to safely explore nature from home.  

Crowd Source for Science. Join The Nat on iNaturalist 

iNaturalist is a free website and app that enables anyone with a computer or smart phone to document plants and animals. It’s basically a crowd-sourced way to determine what lives where.  

We receive a lot of requests from people asking: What’s this lizard? What’s this plant? We love those questions! And anywhere you are, when you can share a photo to iNaturalist, fellow nature lovers can help you ID it. It’s actually a great way to learn about new plants and animals.  

All you have to do is: 

  1. Take photos of wild plants and animals (lizards in a backyard, a weed, bugs inside your home, etc.) 

  1. Download the free iNaturalist app to your Android or iPhone. 

  1. Upload your photos to iNaturalist; use the app or a desktop computer. 

  1. There’s no need to know what you’re posting; the iNaturalist community helps identify species. 

Are you pretty knowledgeable about certain plants, animals, or insects? You can help identify other people’s observations. Want more info? We've got you covered. Learn how to get started with iNaturalist here: English pdfSpanish pdf 

The Nat's iNaturalist Projects 

iNaturalist projects pool your observations with thousands of other peoples’ to focus on a specific topic. Topics range from only observing the bumblebees of San Diego, to posting every plant found in the County. Join a project, contribute observations, and add to the overall knowledge of an area.  

Take part in any of the below citizen science projects from inside, in a backyard, or while exploring southern California.   

  • Bumblebees of San Diego County   
    Ongoing – Help us find out if these cute, fuzzy insects are disappearing. 

  • San Diego County Plant Atlas  
    Ongoing – Track San Diego County’s amazing plant diversity! Our botanists will thank you. 

  • Imperial County Plants   
    Ongoing – Do you live in Imperial County? Add valuable records of Imperial County plants to the database.  

  • Flora de Baja California 
    Ongoing – Find yourself in Baja California? Your observations will help paint a picture of plant-life in this epic region. 

  • RASCals  
    Ongoing – Share your sightings of reptiles and amphibians. You might be seeing a lot of Southern Alligator Lizards in your yards right now. Now’s the time to document them! 

  • Never Home Alone  
    Ongoing – All about the natural history of our homes! It’s delightfully creepy and educational.  


Looking for more ways to take part in Citizen Science Month? 

Search SciStarter for hundreds of Citizen Science Month projects you can get involved with. You can even help fight COVID-19. Search SciStarter’s calendar of themed days, or listen to their podcast for more information on how to take part. 

Stay tuned to our Citizen Science page for more updates.

Even though we can’t get together, we can still work together to better understand our world! That’s the power of citizen science. 

If it grows wild, it's probably wild. Uploading photos of "weeds" around your neighborhood is one way to participate.

Cottontail photographed for a citizen science project.

Participating in data collection by photographing local plants.

Posted by The Nat on April 8, 2020

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