Man holding phone and taking photo of red squirrel eats in park

EVERYWHERE — Join citizen scientists around the world by documenting plants and animals in your backyard or neighborhood during the four-day City Nature Challenge April 30 – May 3.

The public is invited to take photos of plants and animals and upload them to the free mobile app iNaturalist. Scientists use that information alongside images of wildlife from around the world for research, and the data helps them understand our outdoor world a little better.

“No matter where you live, there is always something new and fascinating to find outside,” says Jonathan Marchal, director of education at The North Carolina Arboretum, coordinator of the project for the WNC region. “The City Nature Challenge celebrates that excitement of exploring our outdoor surroundings while engaging in scientific discovery throughout our state.”

The state has been divided into five regions, with WNC competing against the other regions for the most data collected.

Last year more than 2,200 North Carolinians uploaded observations of more than 32,000 plants, animals and other living organisms as part of the 2020 City Nature Challenge.

“A squirrel or a beetle or a backyard tree all offer chances to engage with our environment and observe what is happening outside all around us,” Marchal says.

Go to for more.