Started in 2016 as a friendly competition between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the City Nature Challenge is now an international yearly event meant to engage with people all over the globe in citizen science! For one week each year, people come together to take inventory of the biodiversity that exists within their own city, cataloging as many plants and wildlife species that they can find. In 2019, more than 35,000 people participated from 159 cities across the globe! These observations led to over 1,100 endangered, threatened, or rare species being documented! 

This year, the City Nature Challenge is acknowledging the difficulties we face in gathering together to collect data so they have decided to remove the competitive aspect of the event and focus instead on the healing powers of nature. Individuals are encouraged to follow local health guidelines and get outside when they can to participate this year! Cataloging the different plants and animals you find in your own backyard is a great way to join, and you may be surprised at the diversity that you find! After all, there is nature all around us, even in the busiest of cities!

City Nature Challenge begins April 30th and observations can be recorded through May 3rd. And you don’t need to be an expert to participate! All you need to do is find wildlife, take a picture of it, and submit! Identification of species will be made May 4th – May 9th and results shared on May 10th. The City Nature Challenge is a wonderful way to connect to nature in your own backyard, hone your observational skills, and connect with a global community of interested naturalists, just like yourself! 

To learn more about City Nature Challenge and how you can participate, visit And please remember to be safe and follow all guidelines put in place by your local health officials! 

The Minnesota Zoo would love to see examples of how you used this activity at home! Please share pictures or comments via email at [email protected], and take less than 5 minutes of time to provide us feedback by completing this short survey.