Fernbank invites Atlantans to document plants, wildlife in their backyards

The City Nature Challenge will be held again this year, but with some slight modifications

While metro Atlanta residents are sheltering in place, the Fernbank Museum invites folks to document the environment in their own backyard or local green space.

The 2020 City Nature Challenge will return at the end of the month. And while it will look a bit different than in years past, the museum is encouraging “Atlantans to participate from home while maintaining social distancing practices.”

Typically, the event challenges cities across the globe to engages citizens in spotting and documenting plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms living in urban areas. Then participants can report them using a smartphone app, according to the organization's website.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the event is still on — both in Atlanta and beyond — however, some modifications have been made.

“With a few modifications, CNC can still offer people around the world a way to safely connect with nature and each other during these difficult times,” according to the website.

This year, its not a competition between cities to see who can document the most wildlife and attract the most participants. Instead, it’s just a fun way to get outside amid the pandemic.

Here in Atlanta, the Fernbank museum is leading the local effort. Originally, the event called upon people to explore far and wide. But now, the museum is asking participants to focus on living creatures in their own backyards.

Using the app, iNaturalist, participants can take photos of plants, trees, animals and other living organisms they notice in their yards and local green spaces.

“The City Nature Challenge provides a healing escape from many of today’s stressful circumstances, encouraging both individual and family exploration that connects participants to the natural world that is thriving all around them,” Eli Dickerson, Fernbank’s ecologist, said in a statement. “Nature has been proven to reduce stress and improve mood, and when combined with a fun exploration of the new and awakening life that is bustling during the spring, we all can experience that the greatest show truly ‘is’ earth.”

According to Fernbank, documenting the species helps scientists to protect and study them.

City Nature Challenge
April 24-27
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