Bradshaw Scholar Reflections on the 2023 City Nature Challenge
Starting in California in 2016, the annual City Nature Challenge is now an international event where cities honor the biodiversity of our planet through documenting the species in their community. This year, the Sacramento Region brought together more than 500 observers and resulted in the documentation of over 1,500 unique species.
One of the most exciting aspects of the City Nature Challenge is the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals who share a passion for the natural world. At the UC Davis Arboretum, my coworkers and I hosted a table where we introduced attendees to this worldwide celebration. It was a delight to see the enthusiasm on people’s faces of all ages as we explained the significance of documenting the biodiversity in our environment. Throughout the event, I had the pleasure of meeting new people, engaging in conversations about nature, and fostering a sense of community among participants.
During the event at the UC Davis Arboretum, I had a personal encounter that will forever remain etched in my memory. As I wandered amidst the radiant gardens, I spotted a vibrant Pipevine Swallowtail dancing gracefully from one flower to another. With a mix of excitement and curiosity, I reached out with my net gently and managed to catch my first butterfly. It was a thrilling moment, capturing the essence of the City Nature Challenge. Not only was I actively participating in documenting biodiversity, but I was also immersing myself in the wonder and beauty of nature.
In my assignment with the Center for Community and Citizen Science, I hosted my own event at Del Paso Regional Park. In collaboration with my work with the UC Davis Upward Bound tutoring program, I aimed to provide local Sacramento high-school students with an opportunity to engage with their environment while contributing valuable data for the City Nature Challenge.
A Lesson in Empowering the Community Through Citizen Science
My involvement in organizing and participating in the City Nature Challenge has been an enlightening experience. By hosting events and engaging with the community, I witnessed firsthand the transformative power of citizen science. Not only does it enable individuals to develop a deeper connection with their surroundings, but it also empowers them to actively contribute to scientific research and conservation efforts. Through the City Nature Challenge, I have come to appreciate the significance of involving communities in biodiversity documentation, fostering a sense of stewardship, and nurturing a collective responsibility towards preserving the planet.