Connecting our Youth to Nature with iNaturalist

Connecting our Youth to Nature with iNaturalist

Looking for a way to get our youth engaged and connected with nature? Well, there’s an App for that!

iNaturalist is an online social network where people share biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature. Short version - iNaturalist was developed to help people connect with nature! The added perk is that each observation made has the opportunity to become research grade which then makes it research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature.

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The iNaturalist and Seek Apps allow users to make and record observations on the go! Simply go online and create a free user profile on to get started, and then download the App on to your smart phone to start observing. The iNaturalist and Seek Apps are very common except that in the Seek App there are challenges and badges that can be earned, the more you observe.

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The iNaturalist and Seek Apps do all the work for you! Simply take a picture of your nature find and then upload your photo observation to the App where it will suggest identifications for you to choose from. Select the suggestion that you feel best fits and then share it with the iNaturalist social community who will then agree with your identification or make a recommendation as to a better fitting ID.

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So what classifies as an observation? An observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a certain time and place. Your smart phone camera records the date, time, and location of each photograph which then follows it when it is uploaded to the App. Observations can be made of organisms such as animals, plants, fungi, and even animal tracks, scat, and nests which represent signs of life. Each observation should be recorded separately.

When taking photographs for observations, be sure that your pictures are clear and the subject is easy to view. If taking pictures of a plant or flower, it is recommended to get multiple pictures to include the flower, leaves and base of the plant to help with identification.

Take iNaturalist or the Seek App for a spin next time you’re outdoors or at the park, and then come join us in April for the 2019 City Nature Challenge. The James B Harrison Foundation will be hosting a bioblitz Nature Challenge on Saturday, April 27th from 9:00am to 12:00pm to help Houston become the wildest city in Texas! More details can be found at

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