Skip to main content

Citizen science blooms in Twin Cities with City Nature Challenge

ST. PAUL, Minn. (4/16/2018)—People of all ages and science backgrounds can take part in an international nature challenge set for April 27 to 30 across the Twin Cities metro area.

During that time, participants are encouraged to photographs plants, animals and fungi anywhere within the 7-county area, then upload them to a free app as part of the third annual City Nature Challenge. The global event is expected to bring together more than 10,000 citizen scientists in more than 60 participating cities to help assess the state of urban nature.

“Minnesotans care deeply about the environment and we’re knowledgeable, too. This is a great chance to strut our stuff on the world stage while helping science understand the green spaces and wildlife we love,” said Andrea Strauss, University of Minnesota Extension educator in fish, wildlife and conservation education. Extension is hosting the Twin Cities area event.
logo: City Nature Challenge 2018, Minneapolis, Saint Paul

Participants in Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, Scott, Carver, Washington and Anoka may identify species in the photos if they can. Other iNaturalist users and experts are lined up to help. This type of crowdsourcing helps strengthen the observations; the results will be announced on May 4.

With humans increasingly concentrated in cities, the study of urban biodiversity is essential to the future of plants and wildlife on Earth, Strauss said. Large pools of data help authorities make informed conservation decisions that allow humans to coexist sustainably with the plants and animals in their neighborhoods.

“One of the reasons this is so exciting is because it’s so easy,” Strauss said. “You can participate in your yard, a park or at the many City Nature Challenge events going on in the Metro area that weekend.”

During last year’s challenge, participants added over 125,000 observations of nature to iNaturalist.

This year, organizers estimate that a half million observations will be made by over 10,000 people in over 65 participating cities. The data collected gives scientists, educators, urban planners, and policymakers insight into the biodiversity of urban locales throughout the world. The City Nature Challenge is organized internationally by the California Academy of Sciences and the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum.

Learn more:

· Visit the site detailing the Twin Cities challenge for updates and tips:

· Visit

· Visit or download iNaturalist app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

· Follow the event on social media: Twitter handle is @citnatchallenge; hashtag is #CityNatureChallenge

Participating organizations include:

City of St. Paul Natural Resources Department, Como Woodland Advisory Committee, Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project, Minnesota Zoo, Science Museum of Minnesota, Three Rivers Parks District, Twin Cities PBS, U.S. Forest Service, University of Minnesota (Bell Museum, Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve Extension, Extension, Master Naturalist program, Minnesota Bee Atlas, Monarch Lab, Wasp Watchers).


Media Contact: Allison Sandve, Extension news media manager,, 612-626-4077 (office) or 651-492-0811 (mobile); Andrea Strauss, Extension educator,, 507-280-2863 (office) or 507-990-9141 (mobile)

For more news from U of M Extension, visit or contact Extension Communications at University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

Print Friendly and PDF