As summer beckons us into the great outdoors, there’s an opportunity right at your fingertips to infuse your hikes with citizen science! Through the “Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW) – Indianapolis” project on the “iNaturalist” platform, you can contribute valuable data and join a community of eco-observers while exploring the nature around Marion County.
What is iNaturalist?
iNaturalist is an engaging and educational joint project of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. Designed to foster a connection between people and the natural world, it serves as a “social network” for nature enthusiasts. As an open platform, it invites individuals to document, share, and discuss their observations of biodiversity. These contributions are not only shared with fellow naturalists and citizen scientists, but they also become a valuable resource for professional researchers and conservation organizations who can access an online database of observations, or help users identify a species they’ve photographed.
What is Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW)?
Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW) is an Indianapolis-based initiative dedicated to enhancing the natural, cultural and economic vibrancy of Indianapolis’ waterways. The organization believes in the power of these waterways and improving their quality to uplift neighborhoods and foster a profound sense of community.
Within this broader mission, ROW’s project on iNaturalist takes a targeted focus on making biodiversity around Indianapolis and its six major waterways – Central Canal, Fall Creek, Little Eagle Creek, Pleasant Run, Pogue’s Run, and White River – accessible and relevant for everyone. In doing so, it creates an engaging community that inspires learning and fosters a deeper appreciation of the unique ecosystems around the city.
How it Works
Getting involved is as simple as a tap on your smartphone or a click on your computer. The iNaturalist app is freely available for download on any smartphone device, and can also be accessed via its website: www.inaturalist.org.
After signing up, you can document the different species of plants and animals you encounter in your adventures around Indianapolis with photos, descriptions and location information on the specific ROW project page: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/reconnecting-our-waterways-indianapolis. The ROW page is already home to a plethora of species observations – over 6,300 species have been recorded so far. Yet every additional entry refines our knowledge and supports the conservation initiatives in Marion County.
Shape Our Understanding of Indianapolis Ecosystems
Your observations play an integral role in shaping our understanding of Indianapolis ecosystems and tracking local species. Each shared discovery helps map the distribution of species across our waterways, which may aid in determining habitats that may be at risk and which species are thriving.
As you immerse yourself in the natural world this summer, consider contributing to the ROW project. Not only will you heighten your own ecological awareness and sense of connection to the environment, but also play a vital part in the conservation of Indianapolis and its waterways.