Lincoln City Nature Challenge

What is the City Nature Challenge?

The City Nature Challenge (CNC) is an annual friendly competition among cities across the globe to find and document plants and wildlife over a four-day period. Started in 2016 for the first-ever Citizen Science Day, the community science teams at Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and California Academy of Sciences dreamed up the CNC as a fun way to capitalize on their home cities’ friendly rivalry and hold a community science event around urban biodiversity. The first CNC was an eight-day competition between Los Angeles and San Francisco, engaging residents and visitors to document nature in order to better understand urban biodiversity. In 2017 the CNC went national, and in 2018, the CNC became an international event. The 2019 CNC reached almost 1 million observations. Over 200 cities, including Lincoln, Nebraska, are expected to participate in 2021.

For both budding and veteran community scientists, participating in the City Nature Challenge is easy:

  1. Download the free iNaturalist app to your smartphone.
  2. Find wildlife! It can be any wild plant, animal, fungi, or any other evidence of life, such as scat, fur or tracks, found in your neighborhood, home, yard. You can even document it through your windows. You might be surprised by how many insects thrive in the nooks and crannies around you. The City Nature Challenge for the Lincoln, Nebraska, area includes all observations found in Lancaster County.
  3. Take pictures of what you find and upload to iNaturalist. Check out this video for more information about how to use iNaturalist.
  4. Learn more as your observations are identified and help others identify their observations. Nobody knows everything, but we all know something! Helping others identify their observations is a great way to provide support.

Why participate?

There is nature all around us, even in our cities! Knowing what species are in our metro area and where they are helps us study and protect them, but the ONLY way to do that is by all of us — scientists, land managers, and the community — working together to find and document nature in our area. By participating in the CNC, not only do you learn more about your local nature, but you can also make your city a better place — for you and other species!

When is the 2021 City Nature Challenge happening?

April 30- May 3: Upload wildlife observations to iNaturalist
May 4- May 9: Help identify observations via iNaturalist

Observations of all types of plants, fish, and wildlife and signs are highly encouraged any time during the City Nature Challenge.

ID Parties

Need assistance identifying your observations or eager to learn how to identify? We’re here to help! Grab your lunch and join us virtually from 12 PM – 1 PM for an informal ID party. This FREE online event is part of the Lincoln City Nature Challenge ID Party series. The goal of this series is to explore plants and animals around Lincoln, NE and get participants involved in the 2021 City Nature Challenge.

Click here for ID Parties schedule & registration links.

How are observations counted?

All observations made in Lancaster County and uploaded to iNaturalist during the observation period (April 30 – May 3, 2021) of the challenge will automatically be counted towards Lincoln’s CNC totals. This iNaturalist project will collect the iNaturalist observations for our project’s totals. The larger international iNaturalist project will display our project’s totals along with the 200+ other participating cities and will act as the leaderboard.


Contact Alie Mayes at