If you’re looking for a great way to spend time in nature and be a citizen science, the City Nature Challenge might be a perfect weekend for you! This international event was initially started as a competition between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2016 but in the last seven years, it’s grown to be an international event! The challenge takes place in two parts – the first is taking photos of plants and animals from Friday, April 28th to Monday, May 1st. The second is identifying what was found from May 2nd to 7th.

Participating is easy! You will need to have a camera (the one on your smartphone will work), the iNaturalist app, and eyes wide open. This weekend, find wildlife, take a picture, note the location of where it was found, and share your observations through iNaturalist. Those behind the challenge ask that you either join your city’s project or the global project. You can join the global project by creating an iNaturalist account and clicking the button that says “join” near the top right corner of the project page.

Any wild species are great to share from any location, which means pets, domestic animals, house plants, and gardens are not allowed. You could also share wildlife you see from your window, in your backyard or neighborhood, or local park! It does look like iNaturalist will have a map going of all the different observations seen during the weekend if you’d like to see what others are finding!

Participating cities in the Pacific Northwest include Boise, ID, Olympia, WA, Spokane, WA, Eugene, OR, Portland, OR, Richmond, BC, and Surrey, BC. If you are in the Seattle-Tacoma area, there will be a few FREE meetups put on by organizations and agencies like the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and you can add your observations to the SeaTac iNaturalist project.

The City Nature Challenge is a great opportunity for everyone! If you have kids or are an educator, there are educational toolkits for all ages available and the challenge is a great way to spend time outdoors and teaching kids about the wildlife all around them and the importance of conservation. It’s also a great way to spend time outdoors with friends too, particularly if you like birdwatching or taking walks in nature.

Are you planning to participate? Let me know in the comments!