Nature Challenge 2017

When:  April 14 - 18, 2017, Easter Weekend, Anytime

Where:  anywhere in and around the DFW, TX metroplex

What:  Citizen scientists UNITE!  Take photos and record in iNaturalist app your observations to compete and show the rest of the country how many different critters and plants and fungi live in our urban area!

Who:  we need YOU, your friends, and family to get outside and observe nature.  You DO NOT have to know what the species are to participate.  That's the beauty of iNaturalist app - it pairs ordinary citizens with scientific experts.  We help them by taking photos, i.e., capturing data.  They help us learn about the species that exist in our corner of the world!

How to Use iNaturalist App Handout with NC contest info

About this Event:

Last year, San Francisco and Los Angeles had a competition on which urban area has the most citizen scientists and most species.  Well, they want to extend this competition to the rest of the country.  New York City, Boston, Raleigh, Washington DC, Nashville, Duluth, Chicago, Miami, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Austin, Houston, and Dallas/Fort Worth are the participating cities…  Which area has the most citizen scientists and most species?!?  Can DFW compete with the rest of the country?!?  I think so!  We need your help though.

With your family and friends, or even by yourself, go outside anywhere in Dallas/Fort Worth (area defined as anywhere within these counties: Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant, Wise) and make iNaturalist observations.  These observations will automatically be added to the DFW project on iNaturalist. If you don’t know what the organism is that you’re observing, that’s ok!  Observe it, and others will help you ID it.  If you do know what it is, you can enter in the ID and others will verify it.  All observations have to be observed on April 14 through 18, and must be uploaded before April 22 to be counted in this City Nature Challenge.  If you need to get out of work or out of school, I’ll write you a doctor’s note with a prescription for nature!  😉

Go to your favorite park or one you’ve not been to before.  Observe some of the critters in your own back yard too!  All of these count, and this data is useful.  We can highlight the areas of high biodiversity, we can see where certain invasive species are, and we can even monitor changes in species distributions through time by documenting it today.

One of the products from this challenge will be updated species guides for our region.  This is filterable, so you can search for ‘reptiles’ or ‘beetles’ or ‘legumes’ and get an idea of the ones that people have observed so far.  With each observation, we gain more knowledge of the plants, animals, and fungi that live within the DFW urban environment.  This digital field guide is the tool for the next generation of naturalists.  Let’s embrace it!

We’ll be keeping up with the results daily on the Facebook page.  We’ll show off some of the neat things that folks are seeing each day.  There’s a Facebook event for this thing too (the Austin and Houston folks are on this too).

We’ll have leaderboards on the TPWD webpage too.

If you’re unfamiliar with the citizen science tool iNaturalist, here is a link to help you explore the website, and here are some handouts on how to use the app.

Now, if you want to get together with other naturalists to make observations, here is the tentative calendar of events going on in the DFW metroplex.  Bring a camera, bug net, smart phone, water, snacks, comfortable shoes, and most importantly, your curiosity!  Family friendly events.

  Friday, April 14

9 am – noon: Breckinridge Park in Richardson

1 pm – 4 pm: Bear Creek Nature Park in Lancaster

7 pm – 10 pm: Mockingbird Nature Park in Midlothian

  Saturday, April 15

9 am – noon: OS Gray Natural Area in Arlington

9 am – 1 pm: Heard Museum in McKinney

1 pm – 4 pm: South West Nature Preserve in Arlington

1:30 pm – 3 pm: Fort Worth Nature Center in Fort Worth

  Monday, April 17

9 am – noon: Mike Lewis Park in Grand Prairie

1 pm – 4 pm: Cross Timbers Park in North Richland Hills

  Tuesday, April 18

4pm - 7pm: Tandy Hills Natural Area park in Fort Worth

If you know of other organizations or parks that would be interested in promoting this city nature challenge or hosting a nature event, give them some flyers, or handouts, and let me know.  We can include them on the partners list on the website and on the timeline of events.

Most of all, go outside and enjoy nature.  Wildlife exists in the urban area – enjoy it.  🙂

If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.  Thanks!

Sam Kieschnick

Urban Wildlife Biologist, DFW

Texas Parks and Wildlife


sambiology on iNaturalist!


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