Why I'm giving to iNaturalist

iNaturalist connects people with nature and to each other.

I joined iNaturalist in September of 2013 when I was introduced to it by Derek Broman, a former Texas Parks and Wildlife Urban Wildlife Biologist. I just used the app... and well... I was a bit bored. I even thought it was kind of lame. I think I deleted it from my phone! I didn't really get the full effect of iNat by just using the app...

I returned to it later on by visiting and exploring the website. It didn't take too long, and I was totally hooked. Since 10 March 2015 (1,374 days ago), I've been making at least one iNat observation a day... I do this to make a point: each day we interact with nature! I interact with it by observing it.

The first word that some folks associate with me is "iNaturalist." I take this as a big compliment! A few of my professional colleagues put it as a "one trick pony" kind of tool, but I know what it really is -- a powerful network, extensive database, and valuable professional development tool.

First of all, I've learned a tremendous amount from using iNaturalist. I can identify lots of the bugs and plants and birds from around my area and beyond. This skill is not innate -- it's a learned skill by using iNat. I've also become a much more broad naturalist. When I worked in a herbarium, I was so narrowly focused towards plants that I became oblivious to all other organisms. With iNat, I finally appreciate the entire ecosystem. And, I've found out that I've got a lot more to learn! I love this.

I've used iNaturalist professionally a lot too. As I work with land managers (public and private), I show them just how many different critters and plants that use the land by what we've documented. BioBlitzes have extreme power in influencing management and policy decisions. I'm fortunate to be in a position as an urban wildlife biologist where I can translate the results of a bioblitz or of citizen science to the policy makers and land managers. I've been pleased to see some positive results.

I'll be totally honest: using iNaturalist makes me really happy. Like, seriously happy. It's just a tool that connects me with nature and with other naturalists, but for whatever reason, I really really REALLY enjoy using iNat. I think of the genuinely good friends that I've met (or haven't even met in person yet), and that's a cool feeling. As I've read some of the correspondence of naturalists of the past (Darwin, Audubon, Wallace, Lincecum, Lindheimer, etc...), I can feel what they feel when they write to their fellow naturalists and friends. It's the same sort of experience (with a modern touch) that I get through using iNat! It connects me with fellow naturalists that are curious and passionate about nature. What a cool feeling.

So, I'm giving a little bit back to iNaturalist financially. I'm really glad that iNat has this new feature: https://www.inaturalist.org/donate I'm not able to give as much as I'd want to (I do work for the State, remember?!?), but I'm willing to drop a few coins in the bucket.

Of course, there should never be an obligation in this, but if you've enjoyed using iNaturalist, I encourage you to write up a little journal entry on it. It'd be fun to read how you use and enjoy iNat. It's fun to read journal entries: https://www.inaturalist.org/journal

I'm extremely lucky to be part of this community. The nature is real, and the naturalists are real -- this tool connects us all. Woo hoo! :)

Posted by sambiology sambiology, December 13, 2018 21:36

Comments

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Sam, you're amazing! Thanks for all of the ways you support iNaturalist: making observations, identifying other people's observations, welcoming new users, teaching people how to use iNaturalist (including students & teachers), advocating for its use professionally, using data to inform policy & management, and on top of all of that, donating. Somehow, you manage to excel in every way—with a smile! You are an inspiration for the community. Thank you!

Posted by carrieseltzer over 1 year ago (Flag)
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@carrieseltzer Is there a minimum amount for monthly giving? I couldn't drop much but a little bit every month might be doable (don't tell me wife).

Posted by vermfly over 1 year ago (Flag)
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That's awesome Sam. Thanks for letting us know about this!

Posted by bosqueaaron over 1 year ago (Flag)
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@vermfly I'm glad you asked! The minimum donation accepted by the form is $5 (USD). It's the same minimum for one-time or recurring donations. (Apparently, if you set the minimum too low or don't have one at all, people who steal credit cards may use your form to test the cards—yikes. A friend's organization recently had to deal with 300+ fraudulent one cent charges).

I personally like giving monthly for the organizations we support, because it allows us to spread our gift out over the year for budget purposes. I of course recommend it for supporting iNaturalist if that sounds like your jam :-)

Posted by carrieseltzer over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Good idea Sam. Count me in.

Posted by carolr over 1 year ago (Flag)
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A very nice post Sam, and very inspirational! I can certainly think of things I spend money on that I couldn't possibly use, learn from, enjoy or appreciate more than iNat. It's time to redirect some of those expenditures. The purse strings are loosening as we speak :)
Happy Holidays everyone!!

Posted by jwn over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Great post Sam. I too discovered iNaturalist app back in 2011 at NPSOT Symposium in Houston. However, it basically lay dormant until I caught the fever from you at Master Naturalist class. Now, it's my go to app when exploring nature.

Posted by alusk over 1 year ago (Flag)
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I contributed because I appreciate the people who are willing to help keep me on track with accurate ID's. That is a huge gift and I appreciate everyone who is kind enough to correct or confirm my input. And yes, Sambiology, you have given me input too. Thanks ever so much.

Posted by mcvaughn over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Sam, Thank you for the inspirational journal post. Thank you also for All of your input and help you have passed along to me. I appreciate it very much! This is why I think of you when I am asked questions about iNaturalist or why I have referred others to you, when they need some assistance. Before I joined and downloaded the iNaturalist Application, I watched a couple of your iNaturalist videos on Youtube just to see how it all works. They were helpful and inspiring. Kudos to you!✌🏻

Posted by walkingstick2 over 1 year ago (Flag)

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