MDC and St. Louis area City Nature Challenge 2020 partners invite everyone to join worldwide citizen science effort kicking off April 24

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St. LOUIS, Mo.— The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is joining multiple conservation partners in the St. Louis area City Nature Challenge that kicks off this Friday, April 24. St. Louis is one of more than 160 cities around the globe to take part in the effort.

The City Nature Challenge runs from Friday April 24- Sunday, May 3, and MDC, along with its St. Louis Metro area organizing partners, invite you to pitch in. This innovative effort will enable people to become citizen scientists, so they can observe and record as many species of plants, birds, and animals as possible during the event.

Participants can make observations by taking photos and uploading their observations using the free mobile app iNaturalist. The data collection portion of the City Nature Challenge will take place from April 24th- April 27. In addition to connecting with nature, the objective is to create a snapshot of the biodiversity that can be found around the metro area, including wild plants, insects, birds, and mammals, fish, frogs, fungi, and other forms of life. Then, from April 28-May 3, experts from around the world will identify your observations.

“You may be surprised at what you might discover in your own backyard or windowsill,” said MDC Naturalist Emily Crawford.

There is no cost to take part in the City Nature Challenge, but MDC recommends the following steps:

  1. Download the free iNaturalist app, available for iPhone or Android at
  2. Observe and take photos or record sounds of as many diverse plants and animals as possible
  3. Upload photos, sounds and information using iNaturalist to the worldwide database. All data participants collect will provide scientists a better idea of the biodiversity living in the area.
  4. Learn more when your observations are identified.

“It can highlight the biodiversity of our unique area,” Crawford said. “A lot of sightings that people might think of as casual might become important information for a scientific database.   Scientists can access your data and use it to do real research.”

The City Nature Challenge will be somewhat unique for 2020, due to COVID-19 considerations. “We had to think a little different when designing the event this year. We have decided to promote completely self-guided activities,” explained Crawford. She said participants are encouraged to share observations online with a digital community while operating within physical distancing and shelter-in-place guidelines.

Crawford also stressed being considerate of nature, as well as others. She said to observe general rules of ethical wildlife viewing; don’t pull plants, overturn rocks or disturb wildlife, and use caution when getting photos of wild animals.

“With a few common-sense tips in mind, the 2020 St. Louis area City Nature Challenge is a great way to connect with nature, which is especially important at this time,” said Crawford.

This global event is co-organized by San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. In addition to MDC, the St. Louis City Nature Challenge 2020 partnership includes the City of St. Louis, Missouri Botanical Garden, Saint Louis Zoo, Great Rivers Greenway, Academy of Science St. Louis, and East-West Gateway Council of Governments.

More Information and Helpful Resources

Visit the City Nature Challenge—St. Louis website

Visit the City Nature Challenge website to see what observations are being made around

the world.


Signing up is easy and free. Visit , or download iNaturalist from the Apple App

Store or Google Play store.

Social Media


Facebook: @stlcitynaturechallenge

Stay connected by following the 2020 St. Louis City Nature Challenge Facebook Event.

Citizens like you can make a real difference by collecting valuable information and contributing to a larger, world-wide effort.