City Nature Challenge 2020 – Coming soon, with some changes, to an NC city near you!

Tulip Poplar.  Photograhed by Chris Goforth, CNC 2019.

It’s almost that time again, time to participate in one of the largest citizen science events in the world!  The 2020 City Nature Challenge will begin April 24 and run through April 27.  Take photos of any species you can find during those four days and get them uploaded by May 3 and they will count toward our totals for the 2020 event.  This is a fun way to help document your local biodiversity and share your observations with scientists and the science-curious worldwide.

And, in 2020, you can participate from anywhere in North Carolina!  The whole state is covered this year, so anywhere you participate in the state will count toward the totals for one of the four NC regions.  We’re excited to offer this fun outdoor event in 2020 and hope you will participate with us!

Black Rat Snake.  Photographed by Mary Schopp, CNC 2019.

But let’s also address the elephant in the room for 2020: COVID-19.  This serious illness is something that the international event leaders are taking very seriously, and so are the NC organizers.  The need for social distancing puts a different spin on this normally very social event, so there are some changes for 2020 to make this event happen in a way that’s safe for everyone.

First, this event is usually a competition.  It will not be in 2020!  There are over 300 cities participating this year and there is still a leaderboard, but there will be no “winners” this year for number of submissions, species, or participants as there has been in the past.  The event has shifted instead to being a celebration of the nature of our own neighborhoods, an excuse to get outside and do something meaningful in nature or even explore the wildlife living in your home!

Rosy Maple Moth.  Photographed by Julie Tuttle, CNC 2019.

Second, there will be no in-person events for any city participating in the City Nature Challenge in 2020.  While we’d normally offer a variety of programs across North Carolina that you could join to get tips and tricks – and identifications! – from experts, that can’t happen this year.  However, you still have a LOT of nature in your own neighborhood, and the event is still taking place.  Take this opportunity to get to know the things living in or around your own home in a lot more detail!  I know I have already started finding things in my own yard that I have never noticed before and it’s been a ton of fun seeing just how many species I actually have in my own!

Third, it is important that you follow your local regulations regarding stay at home orders and social distancing.  While we might normally encourage you to visit local parks and natural areas, and in mamy cases you may still be allowed to do so, please follow the rules of any place that you visit.  If a facility is closed, do not visit.  When visiting places that are open, practice proper social distancing!  This is meant to be a fun event, an excuse to get out into nature and help some needy scientists while getting some welcome outdoors time.  It’s a lot less fun for everyone if you end up getting sick!  Please be sure you maintain the proper 6 foot distance from any others you encounter as you participate.  No nature photo is worth the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19!

We are thrilled to be offering the City Nature Challenge once again in North Carolina in 2020!  Get outside, see and photograph some nature, help some scientists – and help us show off North Carolina’s AMAZING nature to the world.  We look forward to seeing what you can discover, a little closer to home this year!

Veined Skullcap.  Photographed by Jennifer Tredway, CNC 2019.
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