Become a naturalist at MDC's Runge Nature Center

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — There’s a new naturalist at Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Runge Conservation Nature Center—you!

The iNaturalist smart phone application allows Runge visitors to submit photos of plants, animals, insects, and fungi to the app. If you know an organism’s species, you can identify it and help expand the iNaturalist database. If you’ve found a new critter, submit a photo of it, and the iNaturalist community will help you identify the organism.

“I learn new things every day here, and there’s no reason why visitors can’t do the same thing,” said Austin Lambert, a naturalist at Runge. “ If you’re an amateur naturalist or photographer, or you just want to know what that plant is, this is a great way to put that curiosity to use.”

MDC staff are using submissions to the app to learn what species are on the nature center grounds, which could eventually help in making habitat management decisions.

But iNaturalist isn’t confined to Runge. You can use the app to identify species anywhere, from insects in your backyard to the trees outside your office.

Download the free app on Google Play or the App Store, or visit for more information about the project.  

Runge Conservation Nature Center is located at 330 Commerce Drive in Jefferson City. The nature center is open daily and has exhibits, trails, and interpretive programs for all ages. For directions or more information about the nature center, call 573-526-5544 or visit