Reflection Riding Announces Free, Outdoor Community Event: City Nature Challenge 2021

Monday, April 26, 2021
Matt Guenther using the iNaturalist app identifying a hemlock
Matt Guenther using the iNaturalist app identifying a hemlock

Join Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center for the City Nature Challenge on Friday and Saturday for two full days of outdoor fun. The full schedule of events includes night hikes, guided walks, volunteer projects, a campfire concert and more. A full listing of events is below.

Events and activities are first-come, first-served, there is no need to sign up to participate and all programming will take place outdoors. Events and activities are donations-based, meaning that Reflection Riding asks that the public make a donation at a level comfortable for them, or become a member, rather than pay a set fee to join in the fun.

The entire community is welcome, especially those who may not be entirely comfortable out in nature yet. CNC events and activities are guided and staff will be available to help introduce participants to activities like hiking, wildflower walks and bird identification. Participants can also participate in the Chattanooga CNC by learning how to use the iNaturalist app on a phone to share photos or recordings of interesting plants and animals encountered. Reflection Riding will teach guests everything they need to know about iNaturalist so they can be a part of this citizen science event.

Invented by citizen science staff at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences and organized locally by Reflection Riding, the CNC is an international effort for people to find and document plants and wildlife in cities across the globe. It’s generally a bioblitz-style competition where cities are in a contest against each other to see who can make the most observations of nature, who can find the most species, and who can engage the most people.

Given the context of the continuing global pandemic, the 2021 event will not be a competition. The global organizing group and Reflection Riding agreed that “we want to embrace the healing power of nature and celebrate tens of thousands of people all around the world, searching for and documenting their local biodiversity, together in this event.” 

Reflection Riding launched the first Chattanooga CNC last year and it was a great success, even at the start of the pandemic. “I loved seeing children and families participating from their yards or a nearby green space while we were all at home last spring,” remembers Mark McKnight, president/CEO of Reflection Riding. “By encouraging people to discover the rich biodiversity in urban areas, events like the CNC help reveal how important nature is in all our lives. Chattanooga has an unbelievable number of species and we want to help document them all.”

Last year, 269 observers discovered 1,064 species by making 3,503 observations. Four hundred and eighteen people from the worldwide iNaturalist network helped identify the observations.

There is nature all around. Knowing what species are in the city and where they are helps  scientists study and protect them, but the only way to do that is by all – scientists, land managers, and the community – working together to find and document nature in the area. By participating in Chattanooga’s CNC, not only do participants learn more about plants and animals, but also help scientists understand nature better, and make Chattanooga an even greener place to live, work and play, said officials. 

“Because our property is large enough for all events and activities to be outdoors, we are really excited to welcome the greater Chattanooga community to participate in the City Nature Challenge again this year,” said Corey Hagen, director of Education at Reflection Riding. “It’s going to be a great weekend full of outdoor exploration and learning.”

Check-in for all events will be at the main parking lot in front of the nature center.

Friday, April 30
8-10 a.m. Waking up with the birds
9-10 a.m. iNaturalist training/hike
10 a.m.-12 p.m.: Fungi walk using iNaturalist
11 a.m.-12 p.m.: iNaturalist training/hike
12-2 p.m.: Pond survey (finding insects, fish, turtle, frogs....)
1-2 p.m.: iNaturalist training/hike
2-4 p.m.: Reptile and amphibian hike using iNaturalist
3-4 p.m.: iNaturalist training/hike
4-7 p.m.: Plant survey using iNaturalist (three groups)
7-9 p.m.: Campfire Concert (featuring Gabriel Newell)
9-11 p.m.: Nature at night using iNaturalist

Saturday, May 1
8 a.m.-12 p.m.: Bird banding with Dr. David Aborn
8-10 a.m.: Waking up with the birds
9-10 a.m.: iNaturalist training/hike
10 a.m.-12 p.m.: Plant survey using iNaturalist
11 a.m.-12 p.m.: iNaturalist training/hike
12-2 p.m.: Reptile and amphibian hike using iNaturalist
1-2 p.m.: iNaturalist training/hike
2-4 p.m.: Life in the pond
2-3 p.m.: Bluebird Nest Demonstration

Hosted by the Chattanooga Chapter of the Tennessee Bluebird Society
3-4 p.m.: iNaturalist training/hike
4-6 p.m.: Fungi walk using iNaturalist

 



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