One excellent tool for naturalists of all ages and education levels is iNaturalist. This online community has a free mobile app supported by National Geographic that helps you identify and track organisms. You can start in your backyard by downloading the app and photographing plants and animals you find. The application compares your images to a vast library of similar user-created images to help you to identify each species.
The program saves your findings and shares valuable data with scientists. If you’re already very knowledgeable about natural sciences, the iNaturalist community is a place for you to share your knowledge and passion with amateur naturalists. If you’re just learning, iNaturalist can be a fun tool with endless potential to participate in activities and campaigns to catalog and conserve the world around you.
When you reach the limits of cultivating native plants in the space available, set out as a plant detective with iNaturalist. Take your kids and make a game out of finding new plants you hadn’t noticed before. Your seemingly small findings could be an informational gold mine to a scientist who is looking for big-picture analysis of the ecosystem. The kids will love it and it could spark a life-long love of the natural world, and even a career in a science field!