Flowers in front of the Du Bois Library

UMass Amherst Libraries Bring City Nature Challenge Back to Western Massachusetts

The City Nature Challenge logo

The UMass Amherst Libraries are once again coordinating efforts for Western Massachusetts’ participation in the ninth annual City Nature Challenge (CNC), a global online activity and event that encourages science and nature enthusiasts to share photographs or audio of their community’s biodiversity with audiences worldwide, by hosting a series of free online and in-person workshops April 26-30.

The CNC calls on current and aspiring community scientists and nature fans of all ages and educational backgrounds to observe and submit photographic or audio evidence of wild plants, animals and fungi using the free mobile app, iNaturalist, from Friday, April 26 through Monday, April 29. Identification of photographed species will be crowdsourced through the online iNaturalist community from Tuesday, April 30 through Sunday, May 5, with results announced on Monday, May 6.

The challenge began in 2016 by citizen science teams at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco as a way to capitalize on their home cities’ friendly rivalry and hold a citizen science event around urban biodiversity. Additionally, the wildlife information gathered during the challenge gives scientists, educators, urban planners, and policymakers insight into the biodiversity of urban locales throughout the world. Last year, more than one million observations were made.

“We’re excited to continue our engagement with the community to support citizen science,” says Nandita Mani, dean of University Libraries. “Not only is it a participatory way to further our understanding of our region, but in also keeping with our land grant mission.”

This is the fifth year Western Massachusetts has participated. Melanie Radik, librarian in the Science and Engineering Library, is spearheading organization efforts with an information guide and the following free workshops for all interested participants.  Registration is required.

iNaturalist: When You Want to Know “What’s that Flower/Bird/Bug (and More!)”
In-person workshop: Friday, April 26, 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
W. E. B. Du Bois Library, Lower Level, Calipari Room, followed by a nature walk
Online workshop: Friday, April 26, 2:30-3:30 p.m. 

“Name That Species” with iNaturalist
In-person workshop: Tuesday, April 30, 10-11 a.m.
Science and Engineering Library, Learning Studio
Online workshop: Tuesday, April 30, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. 

For more information about the challenge and an education toolkit, visit  Visit or more information and to download the iNaturalist app, which is available from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.