Protected areas challenge

This Nature Challenge was created by Seek (by iNaturalist):

Your mission:

From the deepest forest to the smallest park, we share our planet with an incredible variety of living things, each adapted to the particular environment in which they live. Seek out a local nature hotspot and see how many different types of living thing you can find. Along the way, you’ll learn what characteristics make these different groups of organisms different from each other!

  • Find any 4 different birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, or fish
  • Find 4 different insects
  • Find 3 different arachnids
  • Find 6 different plants
  • Find 3 different fungi

What is Seek?

Seek (by iNaturalist) is a kid-safe app that helps you get outside and explore your local plants, animals, and fungi. Visit the iNaturalist website to learn more. Or, click here for more information.

What is a protected area?

National park, nature reserve, state park, marine conservation area..these are all types of protected areas.

What do these areas have in common? Usually, these places have been set aside to protect plants, fungi, animals, and their habitats. Protected areas are ecologically important. For example, a protected area may be rich in biodiversity, like a rainforest. Or it may be an important pathway for migrating animals – like the Serengeti ecosystem.

Protected areas are often culturally significant too. This means they are important to people.

To protect plants, fungi, and animals, protected areas have guidelines about how we can use them. Here are a few rules you may have noticed in a protected area:

  • Dogs and cats are not allowed
  • Stay on the trails
  • Don’t litter
  • Don’t pollute waterways
  • Don’t ride bicycles
  • Don’t approach wild animals
  • Don’t collect shells or touch marine creatures
  • Don’t pick flowers

Is there a protected area near where you live?

Do you live near a national park or a nature reserve? To complete this month’s challenge, find out if you have any protected areas near where you live. What kinds of protected areas are they? What kinds of rules do they have?

Go on a mapping program like Google Earth and search for protected nature areas near your home or city. Or you can ask a parent, caregiver, or educator if they know about any local protected areas.

If you don’t have a protected area near you, that’s fine too! You can visit a city park, community garden, or other green space to seek out species to complete the challenge.

How can you help your local park or protected area?

  • Go on a guided nature walk with a park ranger or environmental educator. You will learn cool facts about your local biodiversity and how you can help protect it.
  • Follow the rules. Rules help protect biodiversity and keep our natural places beautiful.
  • Organize a cleanup.
  • Volunteer your time.

More ideas:

a sign in front of a forest

Art activity: weird and wonderful life!

What was the weirdest, most wonderful, or most interesting plant, fungus, or animal you found while working on this Seek challenge? Use this species as inspiration to create a weird and wonderful artwork! Draw, paint, make a collage, or even work digitally. Have fun and share your art with a friend, family member, or teacher.

You can also share your art with us. Parents or guardians can email us using the contact information on our About Us page.

May Species of the Week!

Meet a new species each week related to the challenge.

Week 1: Plains zebra

Plains zebra

Image of plains zebra © Mike King (CC BY-NC) via iNaturalist.

Week 2: Black-tailed prairie dog

black-tailed prairie dog

Image of black-tailed prairie dog © Meghan Cassidy (CC BY-SA) via iNaturalist.

Week 3: White oak

Image of white oak tree © wlcook (CC BY-NC); white oak leaves and flowers © kjsytsma (CC BY-NC); acorns © Claire O’Neill (CC BY-NC), all via iNaturalist.

Week 4: Narrow-leaved purple coneflower

Image of plains zebra © dghjertaas (CC BY-NC) via iNaturalist.

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