Nature

Help Science Help Nature During This Engaging City-Wide ‘Challenge'

The City Nature Challenge, co-founded by the Natural History Museum, encourages us to observe the wilder world around us.

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    What to Know

    • The City Nature Challenge, a citizen science initiative, was co-founded by the Natural History Museum of LA County and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco in 2016 as a friendly city-to-city "competition"
    • Observe the animals, plants, and fungi around LA and share photos of your finding in iNaturalist
    • April 28 through May 1, 2023

    Pausing to watch a spunky little lizard scurry along the top of a gate? You so will.

    Stopping to admire an iridescent hummer humming around a brilliant red hibiscus? Without question, that's happening.

    Sitting down in order to see the sun dapple through a particularly fetching jacaranda? There go your next 20 minutes, for sure.

    You are connected with the world around you, and deriving joy from the flowers, animals, and natural sights around you is something that occurs each day.

    But what if you could still engage in those pleasurable activities while also aiding the knowledge of the science community?

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    That mission is at the helpful heart of the City Nature Challenge, which begins its four-day run on April 28.

    Will you need to register to join in?

    You will not, and your participation can be as quick as a minute or two or as lengthy as you'd like it to be.

    Founded by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco in 2016, the annual event simply asks nature lovers this: Can you snap a quick pick of a flower, critter, or some fungus and submit it via the iNaturalist app?

    That photo, plus the area it was taken and a few other details, will serve researchers who are eager to know more about the wilder realm that weaves through our human existence.

    Feel free to explore your yard, your neighborhood, a local hiking trail, or any other place where nature may be found, well, nature-ing.

    Cultivated flowers and planted shrubs? Skip these, as lovely as they might be; you're seeking out the naturally sprouting flora in your area.

    Something pretty nifty?

    While plenty of observations will "match" other entries — numerous people will spy the same species over the weekend — each City Nature Challenge sees a number of rare animals or plants, the sorts of sightings that make headlines. (By the by, submitting pictures of more common critters or trees is important, too, so go for it.)

    Happy nature-loving, nature lovers, and thanks for lending a hand during this important, get-out-in-the-sun fun time, a great way to bask in the fresh air while basking in the knowledge that you are supporting science.

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