City Nature Celebration 02020: Frequently Asked Questions
Tell me more about City Nature Celebration!
This is a global citizen science event, formerly called ‘City Nature Challenge’, that involves the observation and documentation of biological organisms in the city, stressing the importance of biodiversity in urban environments. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, City Nature Challenge chose to be called ‘City Nature Celebration’ and focus on using nature for relief from a difficult time. CNC encourages people to go outside and make observations of the wildlife they see in their backyards and neighborhoods, while practicing safe social distancing. Participants upload their observations, as photographic documentation, during the specified time frame (April 24-27) and all observations, if identifiable, are included for the region in which they were taken. Our region is the Greater Boston Area. You learn even more at their website: https://citynaturechallenge.org/
Can I participate and still practice social distancing?
Absolutely! Participating from home in a citizen science project is a welcome respite from the isolation we may be feeling as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Keeping track of things, specifically things in nature, may help mitigate any negative feelings. We can join together as a community to document biodiversity, even as we stay apart.
CNC offers the following statement: “In Boston, we encourage documentation of nature in our homes, backyards, and neighborhoods, individually and with our families; and participation online by helping to identify or annotate observations. Together we’ll be making and sharing observations as a global community, celebrating the healing power of nature, documenting our local nature as best we can. Together, we will work with people in cities around the world to celebrate the biodiversity around us – wherever we might be! The CNC is something in which everyone can still participate, even while following all federal & local regulations to keep our communities safe. You can read more CNC Covid-19 FAQs at https://citynaturechallenge.org.”
What is iNaturalist?
iNaturalist is a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. This social network community consists over 400,000 scientists and naturalists who can help us learn more about the natural world. This is done through photo documentation and subsequent identification of all types of living, wild species. Built on the concept of mapping, sharing observations, and sharing data of biodiversity around the world, it is one of the most popular nature apps. By recording and sharing your observations, you will create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature. You can learn more at https://www.inaturalist.org/.
Download the iNaturalist app from the App Store or Google Play onto your smartphone. You can also use the online version on your desktop.
What is citizen science?
Citizen science is a working effort between scientists and people in a community who are curious and motivated to contribute to a specific scientific endeavor. This public involvement is typically to aid in data collection, but can also be analysis or reporting. Citizen science projects involve one or more people who have shared interests and work toward a common goal.
Do I need a specific level of education to be a citizen scientist?
The short answer is ‘No!’ The great thing about citizen science is that, with the proper training, anyone can participate. Everyone who contributes to a project follows the same procedure. Results gathered through this type of “crowd-sourcing” helps researchers draw conclusions and share the data so that an even broader community has access. These large collaborations allow advancements toward discovery that individual research groups may not be able to achieve on their own.
How can I get more involved in citizen science throughout the year?
There are lots of organizations that provide opportunities to do citizen science, including those that can be done remotely. A great place to start is to visit SciStarter (https://scistarter.org). They offer a variety of projects and you are sure to find one that suits your interests. If you are looking for something local and inclined toward participating in biodiversity studies, a good resource is Earthwise Aware (EwA). Learn about their activities at https://www.earthwiseaware.org.