Summer projects for naturalists

Two ways to connect with nature during social distancing no matter your age.
By Joanna Brichetto, USN parent

Here are fun gateways to the world of conservation:
  1. Certify your yard as Native Wildlife Habitat. The National Wildlife Federation offers an easy program that will: show your family what native habitat is, why it matters, and how to help it thrive in your own yard. Even urban habitats are destroyed by infill and development, and sadly, most of our common landscape plants are exotics that did not co-evolve with native creatures here. The NWF search engine helps you find local host-plants for butterflies and other invertebrates, which, in turn, feed birds and other creatures in our shared foodweb. And you can order a Certified Wildlife Habitat yard sign to advertise your efforts and to invite neighbors to think native.
  2. Learn your plant and animal neighbors with iNaturalist. This is a free "citizen science" app that can help you ID any living thing in your yard, neighborhood, or anywhere. Observations are saved as a life-list of all organisms in your yard, and you can track when things bloom, seed, come, go. Meanwhile, scientists use your data for research (while protecting your privacy). There are also local iNaturalist "Projects" to join: pollinator sightings, Warner Park biodiversity surveys, and the annual City Nature Challenge.
 
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    • USN parent Joanna Brichetto pollinates a Pawpaw tree that she planted from a seed seven years ago.

    • All the male flowers fall off an oak tree, but the female flowers stay on and become acorns.

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