Instead of Vacation, I Tried These Nature Exploration Apps. Here’s What I Learned

The iNaturalist app is a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society and is one of the world’s most popular nature apps. The app helps people identify and learn about the plants and animals around them. By recording and sharing observations, you create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature.
 
 Using iNaturalist makes going outside feel like an adventure. Putting a name to a plant or animal you’ve seen in your backyard for years (but never paid any attention to), is surprisingly exhilarating. The app enhances your sense of place and community and really connects you to your environment. The first time I used the app I was surprised to learn that the lizards on my patio are actually an invasive species! Since everyone is staying indoors, wildlife is becoming a lot more active, making now the perfect time to get out and observe!
 

Geocaching is basically a real-world, outdoor scavenger hunting game that uses GPS-enabled devices. Think of Pokémon Go, but replace the Pokémon with little treasure chests! Using the app allows you to navigate to specific sets of GPS coordinates where little containers, called caches, are hidden. The app allows you to see all the hidden caches in your area, and although some are only accessible through a premium feature, many are available for free.

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