Ever since the stay at home orders, people have been getting outdoors in record numbers. As the CDC has pointed out, it is far less likely to contract the virus outdoors. Further, if contracted outdoor exercise helps reduce or prevent the respiratory disease (ARDS) that is the major cause of death among COVID-19 patients.

Hopefully as the state reopens folks will continue spending time outdoors, not only because it helps in this current crisis, but also it is helpful for long-term physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Walking and biking are great ways to get around, but let’s talk about exploring a bit once you’re out there. As a bonus, maybe you can engage in a bit of citizen science. “Citizen Science” is a fancy way of saying regular folks can help observe nature and report back in order to contribute to scientific research. The biggest challenge is knowing how to get started.

Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space is making it easy by launching a comprehensive citizen science series known as “Tally the Valley” that provides a fun and educational way to collect and report data using a free phone app known as INaturalist.

Have you ever spotted an insect or a flower and wondered what it was? Under Tally The Valley, an iNaturalist Collection Project, you to snap a picture and it will search a vast database of flora and fauna to identify the subject and log its GPS location. Other members can confirm your findings and add their own. Over time data is gathered to share sightings throughout the world.

Tally the Valley will launch the first of the series on Sunday, June 28 in your own backyard and in all of our preserves with butterfly data collection!

To join, follow the steps below:

1. Download iNaturalist (compatible with Android and iPhone) and create an account.

2. Familiarize yourself with the app at inaturalist.org.

3. Join FoHVOS “Tally the Valley: Butterflies” project by selecting on “More” in the bottom right of the screen and search for our project name. Then select “Join”.

4. Use our “FoHVOS: Hopewell Butterflies” Guide to help you spot species in the Valley. You can log sightings in your backyard or we encourage you to visit one of our many preserves. Accessing our guide is as simple as joining our project, simply select “More” then “Guides”, and search “FoHVOS: Hopewell Butterflies”

This collection project will be open until further notice. Keep an eye out for additional “Tally the Valley” projects to be launched later this year! Visit fohvos.org if you need more information on joining Tally the Valley.