How can museums advance citizen science? The City Nature Challenge makes evident at least three themes: First, a belief that “science is open to all” is consistent with museums’ values of inclusivity and access. Second, museums know partnerships. (To realize this competitive bioblitz event, the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County enlisted a number of peer museums, NGOs, universities and colleges and other organizations across the U.S..) Third, museum workers strive to protect, interpret, and share resources that are held in the public trust, resources such as knowledge and nature that enrich public life and are the domain of the public sector. — AWA —

Excerpt: In its first year in 2016, a friendly nature challenge pitted Los Angeles and San Francisco in head-to-head competition that sent citizen scientists combing their backyards and local parks for urban wildlife. The idea is to recruit citizens — no training is necessary — to head out to see what they can find in nature, from worms to lizards to mountain lions.

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” said Lori Bettison-Varga, president and director of the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. “Our researchers get data from places they can’t canvas, and Angelenos interact with the nature around them, make discoveries and collaborate with scientists.

“It conveys the idea that science is not a rarefied thing, it’s accessible to everyone, and it’s incredibly fun.”

City Nature Challenge 2017 website header, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (

Image credit: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County website

Source: What’s in the dirt? City Nature Challenge will send citizen scientists afield