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Nature is Everywhere
I get frequently asked by people what can they do to motivate kids to become interested in conservation or science. I often tell them to take kids outside, but it can even be much simpler than that! Start at home by connecting them to the wildlife in your house. You may be annoyed by the insects and spiders in your house, but for kids (and me even as an adult), they are just as fascinating. Conservation started for me with developing an interest in and empathy for all kinds of animals, even the so-called annoying or disgusting ones. When we saw spiders in our home, instead of killing them, we caught them in jars, and looked at them up close. Magnifying glasses made it even more fun. Once we had our fill, we released them back into the “wild,” on the ceiling they were found. My parents reiterated the spiders had their own lives and would not harm us. To this day, I live with the spiders in my home.
Real Science in Your Own Home
Now, technology and citizen science can make your at-home safari even more satisfying! You can look at the animals within your home while contributing to real science. Researchers at North Carolina State University want your photographs to study animals inside homes all over the world. This builds off of a previous study in North Carolina, but now they are going global.
How to Participate
- Join iNaturalist and make sure you add the Never Home Alone project.
- Whenever you see an animal inside your house, take a few photos of it (up to four).
- Upload it to iNaturalist and make sure you add it to the Never Home Alone Project.
That’s it! Once you have the app installed it takes less than 30 seconds to make a meaningful contribution to science. iNaturalist is great because not only are you contributing to real science, but experts will also comment on your photos with an identification, helping you learn the animals around your home.
Stephanie Schuttler is a wildlife biologist with 15 years of experience on mammal ecology and conservation, education, and outreach. Read her inspirational story, “My Unexpected Journey Into Science” to find out how she went from the daughter of a jeweler to a Ph.D. in wildlife biology. Feel free to contact Stephanie here.