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Why not take a moment to smell a flower, watch a spider build a web, or notice a small mushroom that appeared overnight in your front yard?

The power and resiliency of nature are fascinating. Even in the heart of a city, we can find nature co-existing and even thriving amidst man-made structures. Consider a trail of ants that finds their way to the sugar bowl in a 7th story apartment, or a bird making its nest in the globe of a streetlight. What about the clump of grass bursting from a sidewalk crack, or the random flower blooming on the side of a brick building? Nature is ever-present and all around us. Why not take a moment to smell a flower, watch a spider build a web, or notice a small mushroom that appeared overnight in your front yard? Whether you are a Master Naturalist or simply learning to appreciate the natural world for the first time, you can be just the citizen scientist to join us for this year's City Nature Challenge!

The City Nature Challenge is an international call for citizen scientists to find and document plants and wildlife in cities around the world. This bioblitz-style competition allows cities to compete with each other in seeing who can make the most nature observations, find the most species, and engage the most people. What started in 2016 as a friendly challenge between just two California cities, has grown to involve hundreds of cities around the world. In 2020 over 815,000 observations were made of over 32,000 species, 1,300 being rare, endangered, or threatened.

This bioblitz is a fun and unique way to gather data on the immense variety of life (biodiversity) of a region. Knowing the species of plants and animals and their locations in our city help conservationists learn more about them and how better to protect them. This effort truly requires a community to work together to find and document nature in our home cities. By participating in the City Nature Challenge, you are providing invaluable information and taking a precious moment to see a bit of natural beauty you might have previously overlooked. In fact, it's a personal experience that can have a global impact.

We want to invite everyone, regardless of knowledge or experience, to join this year's City Nature Challenge here in Hampton Roads, which will include all seven cities: Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Newport News, and Hampton. Participants will take photos from April 30 to May 3 of all kinds of wildlife, both plants, and animals, big and small. Take photos of everything you can find that's wild and share your findings at inaturalist.com. See below for steps on getting started. Join the challenge, enjoy the experience, and make a difference!

Here is how to get started:

  1. Go to https://www.inaturalist.org/ to create an account. (You can also download the app on your mobile device)
  2. Go out into nature from April 30 to May 3 and take photos.
  3. Share your findings on your iNaturalist account.
  4. Help with identification on iNaturalist from May 4 – 9.

Learn more about the City Nature Challenge Hampton Roads and events happening before and during the event. https://cnchamptonroads.weebly.com/