Updated Tuesday, April 28, 2020

“To see a world in a grain of sand. And a heaven in a wildflower. Hold infinity in the palm of your hand. And eternity in an hour…”
~William Blake

In these last few weeks we’ve all experienced the eternity in an hour bit of the beginnings of that famous poem, but what about that first line? “To see a world in a grain of sand.” 

It is often thought that nature is only in parks, but in fact, it is all around us! It is in your backyard and around your neighborhood. In these uncertain times, it is important to reconnect to nature and all the amazing benefits that nature gives us. While you discover this hidden world outside your door, you can also help contribute to scientific research to help everyone better understand our world. 

Introduction to iNaturalist

iNaturalist is a free app that is available for download on Android and Apple devices. With this app you can become a citizen scientist as you observe every living species you can! Citizen scientists can be anyone who wants to help contribute to gathering data for scientific research. When you make observations, you can share your photos to an online database in which scientists and other nature enthusiasts will help try to identify your findings. 

With iNaturalist, not only can you learn more about your local neighborhood, but you can help contribute important scientific data to an ever-growing research resource!

BioBlitz Your Backyard and Neighborhood

Armed with iNaturalist and your trusty device, you will be ready to Bioblitz your surroundings! A BioBlitz is a citizen science event that is typically hosted in parks and open spaces in which people of all ages come together to discover how many species they can find. San Mateo County Parks usually hosts two Bioblitzes a year in our different parks and we’ve “blitzed” 10 of our parks so far and have observed almost 1,500 species due to the diligence of our many participants over the years! Typically, Biolitzes occur over the course of a day or multiple days in a given location, like a park, but a Bioblitz can happen anywhere! Try Bioblitzing your yard, neighborhood, outside your window, or on your block by taking photos of all the living organisms you can find! Remember to check under rocks, look up in the sky, and even use a magnifying glass if you have one. Upload them on iNaturalist and share your favorite discoveries with us!

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This is an uncertain time and there are many challenges we are individually and collectively facing. Let’s remember that not only is nature all around us, but also, within us.