Creating a Project for an 'Independent' Study

I have adapted a curriculum (created by the Pennsylvania Department of Education Office of Environment & Ecology) for use with a single student. The unit we are about to begin is called “Adopt-a-Forest,” and the objectives are as follows:

Students will (1) select an area of forest and develop a scientific methodology to study it, (2) learn about the ecological relationships in their adopted forest, and (3) explore the biological and structural diversity in their forest.

We have selected a conservation trail (1.4 miles) found within a larger wildlife management area (managed by the PA Game Commission) located in our county. I would like to create an iNat Project to collect our observations…but, I am uncertain how to proceed so it meets our needs.

I am qualified to create a Place on iNat - so, will I use the polygon border tool to create a Place inside an already established Place (Parent) to narrow our focus to the 1.4 mile Conservation Trail…is that correct?

Next, will I create an account for my student?

And, which type of Project shall I choose - is it a Collection, based on Place and (2) Users?

Is there anything else I should do to create this very specific Project with only two participants?

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Sounds like creating a new Place is the best choice.
Your student should have their own account for their observations.
Collection project should cover it; it is possible to restrict observations to members-only in which case only the student’s observations (and yours, if you are admin) will appear.
However, you might want to simply save an Explore search instead, filtered by Place and relevant users. A collection project is basically a fancy wrapper for a search, plus journals.


Traditional project also could fit you, you can be the only one who can add observations in it and if there will be some geographic difficulties with observations you’ll be able to add them to the project anyway, as it’s for 1 student only it shouldn’t be a lot of work. Collection project is easier to use if you’re new to it.


Yes, I would use the collection project as you laid it out. For the collection project you can set it to only include observations from two users (you and your student) and no one else.

Depending on how you set up the project, if you are looking to collect other data on the observations you could also set up observation fields (or use existing ones) to enter specific data.

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You can create a place inside, or crossing the boundaries of, another place.

Your place is a trail, which suggests it is a narrow strip? If so you might find some of your observations won’t be included in a collection project because the circle of accuracy (or whatever it’s called) won’t be completely inside your boundary. Depending on how accurate your GPS device/phone is you can get around this by setting the boundary a few metres outside the actual area you want to cover.

Your student’s observations will also appear in the existing Middle Creek place list but presumably that’s not a problem.

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Thank you everyone! I think I will go ahead and create an account for my student and set up a Collection project with the two of us as the users. Although my Place is a trail @ourmikegeorge, it is a relatively wide area (almost square-like) in which to hike and includes woodlands, a field, meadow and a pond…so, I think I’ll be able to set some boundaries within its Parent place. Again…thanks everyone…your advice is greatly appreciated!

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Quick clarification…as I originally mentioned, I would like to create a Place. The 6,000-acre Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area currently exists as a Place on iNat, however for my Project, I would like to condense that large area of observations to focus solely on the 1.4 mile Conservation Trail within it.

Must I collaborate with the creator of the original larger area (the Parent) or, may I create the Conservation Trail as a unique Place within the Parent, Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area?

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You can just go ahead and create the trail yourself, as a separate place.


Okay…I have created my Project. Can someone take a look at it and tell me if I set it up correctly…it should only allow obs from me and my student (no one else may join) and the observations may include ANY species, but only within the Middle Creek Conservation Trail.

Did I do it properly?

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Seems right! You might want to include Casual observations, e.g. if you saw or heard a bird but didn’t have a photo or recording.


Quick question…if I’d like my student to be able to author a Journal entry, must I make him a Manager?

Yes, you do.


Another quick question…the Conservation Trail is able to be organized to some degree into areas of interest (forest, food plots, woodland border, vista point, timber stand, field, forested wetland, old plantation of Scotch pines, forest opening, rock outcropping, pond). Could I utilize the Observation Field for this purpose?

yes :)
if you’re lucky you may be able to use an existing OF but creating a new one is also fine.

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Yet another question…if I post an observation without media (as a Casual observation) is there any benefit to my student agreeing with the observation? Although he witnessed the bird and can confirm its identification, the observation is Casual and cannot be further improved upon, is that correct?

The only benefit in knowledge that both of you saw the object and in the future it will be possible to check. Also you can add field sketches as evidence if you have no photos.


Wonderful - thank you for the advice!

It’ll also give the observation a community taxon (an observation with just one ID doesn’t have one). As well your ID will be marked as improving. But these factors aren’t integrated into the iNat website, so as far as benefits, your mileage may vary.

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