by Caroline Haynes
Mark your calendars for April 28 through May 1 to participate in the 2023 City Nature Challenge (CNC). Join your friends, family, and neighbors in this fun annual nature event.
What is the City Nature Challenge?
The CNC encourages interest in discovering urban nature by having individuals observe, record, and identify the nature around them. It celebrates and supports two vital functions of citizen science: bringing members of the community together to enhance their appreciation of nature, and providing scientists with valuable data on biodiversity that can help guide the understanding and preservation of our natural resources. The event started out as a friendly competition between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2016 to document urban nature using iNaturalist, a free app and website that allows individuals to easily upload, share, and identify species. It has expanded to over 450 cities in 40 countries this year. ARMN is helping to organize participation in the “City Nature Challenge DC,” encompassing the entire DC metro area, and then some: 14 counties in Virginia, 5 counties in Maryland and Jefferson County in West Virginia. We urge all people in these areas to participate. It’s easy to do and fun for folks of all ages!
ARMN has participated in the challenge since 2017. In 2022, out of the world-wide competition, the DC metropolitan area came in first in the number of identifiers, second in the number of observers, fifth in the number of observations, and seventh in the number of species identified. We’re hoping to build on that incredible record again this year!
Who can participate and where?
ARMN is supporting a wide variety of observation events in Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax County (link to events provided below). There are plenty of locations and times to choose from if you want to work with a group, or you can just go out and explore and make observation in your favorite park in any of the above-noted areas. Invite your friends and families and neighbors to become citizen scientists and participate; all ages and levels of expertise are welcome. The more eyes the better on the ground, in shrubs, trees, streams, the sky—in other words, everywhere around you in nature. Join the fun, and contribute to the collection of data, to see which “city” can engage the most participants, make the most observations and identify the most species.
Where to learn more and sign up
- To download the iNaturalist app: https://www.inaturalist.org/
- Local CNC resources: DC City Nature Challenge webpage
- Video tutorials from iNaturalist: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/video+tutorials
- Sign up at: ARMN SignUp Genius that lists locations, dates, and times of CNC group events.