All those things you’re scrutinizing and noting in the outdoors? They’ll have a broader purpose if you take part in a citizen science project at the end of April called the City Nature Challenge. A team in the Twin Cities wants you.

The challenge is April 27-30 and involves teams in 60 cities across the world, including the seven-county metro area. Participants in the Twin Cities project are encouraged to observe the plants and wildlife around them, document them with the free iNaturalist app, and share their findings.

“They can (record observations) in their own backyard, but there are different places – some formal and some informal – where you can go to a particular place,” said Nicole Menard, an urban biologist in the Twin Cities with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “If you have a favorite spot, you can go back with this new intention.”

City Nature Challenge began in 2016, pitting San Francisco vs. Los Angeles. The Twin Cities participated in 2017, and there is hope for more involvement this year, Menard said.

A challenge partner along with the University of Minnesota Extension and others, the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge has an iNaturalist training session from 9-10:30 a.m. Saturday in Bloomington. During the challenge dates, participants also can fan out to places such as Lowry Nature Center, Powderhorn Park and the Minnesota Zoo for special events. Go to citizenscience.umn.edu and click on “Upcoming Events” for details. Results from the challenge will be announced May 4.

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