Black Naturalists Project

Hello! I’ve recently noticed observations from a project for LGBTQ+ Naturalists: It’s wonderful to see a project that supports diversity and community among the naturalists using this site!

I am wondering if anyone knows of any similar projects in existence for Black Naturalists/Naturalists of the African Diaspora? I did some quick searches and did not see anything like that, but I’m not sure if I might be missing things. As a Black naturalist myself I would really appreciate this type of project—to highlight diversity within the naturalist community, to be a place of visibility and community among Black naturalists, to encourage more budding Black naturalists, etc.

And as many here I’m sure are aware, just being a Black person in outdoor spaces can bring it’s own challenges, depending on location. (I’m in the United States.) And I think anything that helps to build solidarity, community, and visibility can help to counter those challenges.

If a project like this does not exist, I would be interested in potentially starting one. I don’t know anything about creating a project, how much work might be involved in being a project leader, etc. But this is something that is very important to me.

I’d be grateful for any information or suggestions people can point me to! Thanks!


Quick follow-up…I’m also wondering if people know of any blog posts etc that iNat has put together to highlight Black naturalists on the site? I saw this post on Pride Month from June 2021: Since it looks like iNat celebrate Pride Month I am wondering if they have done anything to celebrate Black History Month, or anything similar? Again, thanks for any info about this! I feel I am really just learning about the plethora of offerings in the iNat community, so appreciate the help of others in navigating and getting to know everything available on the site.


I don’t know too much about setting up projects. I believe - and I may be wrong - individuals or groups can set up their own projects. There was one (I don’t know if it is stopped or not - I only have been able to make one submission) that only accepted pictures of birds looking directly at the camera! So, I suspect you could create your own. I don’t know the guidelines, or how to recruit members, but someone later in this thread will know far more about it than me.

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If you click on Community–> Projects from the iNaturalist website, it is currently featuring a project called Outdoor Afro 2021-22, which has nearly 80 members and 43,000 observations.
It looks like it is US-centered, but might be a good springing off place and a way to build community.


This is great, thank you so much! Going to look more into this project now!


Thank you, that is very helpful and good to know!


In the US, there has been just an explosion of networking and community over the past year, especially on Twitter, with BlackBirdersWeek, BlackAFInSTEM, Minorities in Shark Science, and a bunch of other groups being especially active. It is tremendously exciting, and so inspirational for kids to connect with young, enthusiastic, expert field scientists of color willing to share their passions and give academic and career advice. There’s a little less emphasis (except maybe among the birders) on connecting with nature in non-professional ways, as black naturalists, conservationists, etc., and that’s a niche that iNaturalist is especially good at.


It really is exciting!!! I’ve connected to BlackBirdersWeek on Twitter, but will check out the others you mention! Another one I’ve been following that’s really awesome is BlackBotanistsWeek on Instagram. I asked the woman who was organizing that last year, and she confirmed they wanted to connect both professional and amateur botanists which is great. I’m primarily a plant person so was excited to be a part of that and to see so many people posting!


Another twitter group is Black in Marine Science which has a very active group of naturalists and works to connect people.


Awesome, thank you!


Related blog post from staff here:


Thank you so much!


It makes me sad to know that the natural world is basically off-limits to so many people just due to prejudice making it unsafe. Where I am (California bay area) it’s definitely not as bad as in many other areas of the county, but I’m sure it’s still an issue here as well.

Side note, I was recently leading a small hike of white, middle-aged, well-off locals, on public property, with appropriate permits, and we STILL had the cops come by and demand to know what we were doing standing around with cameras and binoculars. I hate to think what that interaction would have been like if it had been a group they found more “suspicious looking”.


A long thread with many comments from @tiwane


Setting up projects is quite easy and really doesn’t need upkeep once set up, since for this kind of project, people’s obs will be added to the project when they join! I think it’s a great idea, and good luck!


@reginatw Definitely take a look at the Outdoor Afro project. We did an iNat/Seek training via Zoom for OA leaders a few months ago. I’m hoping that as North American spring ramps up it’ll be more active.

For more info about projects, check out Managing Projects. The Outdoor Afro project, like the LGBTQ project, is a pretty simple one that uses the “Project Members Only” requirement. So the observations of anyone who joins the project will be in the project.

Aside from the Black Lives Matter blog post, we haven’t written many blog posts specifically highlighting Black iNat users. I wrote this blog post on one of the few Black iNat users to reply to our Black Lives Matter outreach in 2020, and there are a few Observation of the Week blog posts featuring Black observers in America and elsewhere. If you have thoughts on how we could organize something more, please share them here or you can email and I can respond.


This has always bothered me. Nature is for everyone and I wish things were different and we are not looked at differently for enjoying it based on gender, color of skin or anything about who we are as people. I love your idea and think you should start a project if one is not already out there.


@reginatw I told you there would be lots of folks who know more than me who would chime in! iNat and the forum are great places for asking questions. For the most part.


Thanks so much for sharing this. This happened before I was using the iNat forums, so had not seen this thread before.

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Thank you, cammie!

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