Perhaps one of the most widely used platforms, iNaturalist gathers observations of the natural world from people all over the globe. Naturalists can submit their own observations on everything from the birds at a backyard feeder to the different types of weeds sprouting out of sidewalk cracks. And since it’s a global platform, iNaturalist is a great way to broaden your community and connect with people from all corners of the earth!

Wondering if you’re qualified to collect “data” on plants and wildlife? No expertise required here! iNaturalist helps you identify what you see by connecting you with other naturalists and experts around the world. And through your observations you’ll be contributing to a global network of data that is used by scientists and professionals to better understand and protect nature.

You can join projects that are on-going, like the City Nature Challenge, which is a global initiative challenging people to find and document wildlife and plants found throughout cities. Or start your own project! With neighbors and other interested naturalists, you can collectively observe and document all the different birds in your area, the springtime calls of frogs and toads, or the many bees and butterflies buzzing about.

iNaturalist can also be a great tool for educators to use with their interested students. As a group you can create a project and individually track and observe plants and wildlife over a period of time. Turn it into a friendly competition by seeing who can log the most number of observations!

Whether you’re on a neighborhood walk by yourself and eager to hone your observation skills, or you join a global group of people documenting migratory birds, you’re sure to find something that will encourage you to get outdoors and start noticing the abundant nature that surrounds us. And who knows, you might even learn something new along the way!

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.