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Image: little boy inspecting a leaf

Become an Instant Backyard Scientist with iNaturalist! 

Have you ever run across a weird bug or maybe a beautiful wildflower and wondered, what is that?! Unless you were with your nature nerd friend or carrying around your collection of guide books of local flora and fauna, those questions went unanswered. Not anymore, though! Thanks to this handy app you’ll be reigniting your sense of curiosity—and improving your health—all at the same time!

Turn over a rock, scooch over that potted plant on your patio, take a look at the cracks between the sidewalk and you’ll probably start to notice that life is everywhere. Plants, bugs, birds, even a mammal or two, once you start to look around, nature isn’t so distant after all!

But what is all this stuff? With the help of iNaturalist, you’ll be going on safari in your own backyard in no time!

Image: little boy inspecting a leaf
Source: Pixabay

It’s time to get out there!

First, we have to ask, why, when the couch is so comfortable, should I go outside in the first place? Great question. Well, what if I told you spending a bit of time in nature could improve your overall wellbeing?

Studies have shown that when people spend at least two hours a week in green spaces they report better physical and mental health than those who do not! 1

The best part?  We don’t have to go deep into the wilderness to feel these effects; time spent in your local park or backyard will do! Whether you spend two hours once a week or you get out there for just twenty minutes a day, a little dose of nature can do a lot for your overall health.

So, now what? We’ve made it outside, we’re ready to go, what are we looking at?

Plants, birds, insects, trees, what is all of this nature? Well, it’s time to let your curiosity run free! Whether you’re an urban dweller, suburbanite, or live life at the end of a dirt road, you are probably surrounded by HUNDREDS of plants and animals just waiting to be found. And this is where iNaturalist and their community come in handy.

iNaturalist is a free app that lets you capture an image of what you find out there, share it with the iNaturalist community, and learn more about what you see! Oh, and in the process, you’re helping collect data scientists and resource managers can use to do their work. It’s a win-win-win for you, science, and the planet!

To get you started on your backyard adventures we have Joe from It’s Okay To Be Smart to lead the way!

Via: It’s Okay To Be Smart 2

If you’re a person who finds themselves saying “I gotta know more about that!” or who looks at the world with the lens of curiosity, go head over to the It’s Okay To Be Smart YouTube channel. It’s a great place to get inspired and learn about the world around you!

Find wonder in your backyard (and support science!) with iNaturalist!

Get started on your own adventures by downloading the iNaturalist app for Apple or Android!

Join Joe and the rest of the It’s Okay to be Smart community in collecting data by clicking here! There are also lots of other great projects to explore, too! So make sure you explore the projects tab to see if there are any projects that catch your eye!

What are you waiting for, get out there!

A reminder to get curious!

Sometimes we need a little reminder to see the world around us with a little more wonder. Our daily stroll or time spent in the backyard can easily become mundane if we let it. But noticing the little things and having a tool handy to help us keep exploring is a great way to recalibrate our sense of awe, and train our brains to start seeing wonder more often!

If you want to kickstart your adventures here are a few articles to get you inspired to keep your eyes peeled for little wonders!

Welcome to the Wood Wide Web, Meet the Internet of Fungus!

Did you know that trees are “talking to each other?” Yes! Forests are connected with an internet of fungus and there is an incredible network growing beneath our feet lovingly called the wood wide web!

Read More
Why Are These Bees Getting Punched by Alfalfa?

If you love your ice cream or cheese, then your new bestie should be a tiny bee that makes it all possible! These leafcutter bees have to go through a boxing match with a flower that packs quite the punch to put your favorite treats on the table. 

Read More
Celebrating Our Most Under-Appreciated Neighbors!

When you think of cities, trees probably aren’t the first things that come to mind. But did you know that trees are a vital part of creating healthy urban spaces? Urban forests have been used for thousands of years to keep city-dwellers healthy, and now we are rediscovering their benefits!

Read More
Hummingbirds: The Bodybuilders in Your Backyard!

Get ready for a dose of awe and wonder! With lightning-fast speeds, an off-the-charts competitive nature, and beak-jousting skills that top Olympic fencers, hummingbirds are truly one of nature’s flying marvels.

Read More

So, whether you’re excited to join a global science movement, improve your health and well-being or to discover what’s happening in the world right around you, a little walk in nature with a curious eye and the iNaturalist app will surely keep you stumbling down that path of curiosity!

Our backyards and neighborhoods are some of the best free tools we have out there for inspiration.

The more we make time to notice, the more awe we will start to see when we are not making a conscious effort! After a while, this begins to change the way we look at, make decisions about, and walk through the world. 3

Give it a go this week! Get your 2 hours of green space or that 20 minutes a day (a great excuse for a nice break and a little walk), and bring your iNaturalist app along with you! Let us know what you find!

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

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Notes:

  1. Nature, in. “Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health.” Yale E360, 2020, e360.yale.edu/features/ecopsychology-how-immersion-in-nature-benefits-your-health. Accessed 9 June 2020.
  2. It’s Okay To Be Smart. “Counting the Species in My Backyard… for SCIENCE! #StayHome & #LearnWithMe Nature Challenge.” YouTube, 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-LjzKx-u9g. Accessed 9 June 2020.
  3. “Availability Heuristic – Biases & Heuristics | The Decision Lab.” The Decision Lab, 2019, thedecisionlab.com/biases/availability-heuristic/. Accessed 9 June 2020.
Published: June 25, 2020

Image: Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

Liesl

CEO

Since 2015, Liesl has been a writer, editor, and is now the CEO at the Goodness Exchange. She is a life-long camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often root-tripping—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV

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