Hey iNat Crew!
I recently announced my plans to coordinate some iNaturalist meetups in Montana. I’ve been thinking about this for years, and finally took the first steps to get something together. I’ve had and observed so many encouraging interactions in this relatively small and spread-out community, I just think it’s time to take our quiet, lonesome little hobby and meet other people with the same passion. Hopefully, by coordinating and promoting a bit, we can recruit some more into the fold, as well!
I’m mentioning it here for a few reasons:
If you are in the area, or might be out here this spring or summer, we would love to meet you! Keep an eye out for updates on dates/times, or subscribe to an email list and I’ll keep you posted as it develops. This link should take you to my email newsletter subscription, but let me know if you have any problems. (I only plan on sending pertinent scheduling updates and maybe reminders leading up to events, so don’t worry about getting your inbox flooded!)
If you have done anything like this, I am looking for ideas and pointers on getting the word out. iNat is pretty much my only social media. I guess I’ll start a couple social accounts to help get the word out, but I’m getting more curmudgeonly every day. I would really love to have someone else with a talent (or willingness) for that kind of thing own that, so I’m just coordinating the meetups. Would anyone here be kind enough to do that for me?
I’m also looking for pointers on how to lead a successful iNat meetup. I’m thinking through a few things to help make it successful: How can the meetup leader make it successful for everyone to have a good time? It’s not a guided tour, but also not just everyone scattering and iNatting alone in the same area. There might be experts or total newbies who are curious. What is the best kind of setting? Probably a narrow trail would not allow much communication (especially with social distancing concerns), so maybe a flatter area with room to loosely clump and disperse around interesting finds, without being compressed on single-track, would be better? Just leave it open and let people find and share whatever, or provide some goals or structure to turn it into a treasure hunt? There are a lot of ways it could go, but the goal is to give an opportunity for people to enjoy nature together, and I’m sure some smart people have thought about best practices to facilitate that.
Please share your experience with any kind of iNat meetup you’ve lead or participated in, what things were good, what things could have been better, what you would like to see in the world. Maybe we can take some thoughts and build a little meetup tutorial.
Of course, I’ll be keeping an eye on the COVID situation and respond accordingly, encourage mask wearing and distancing, cancel events as required, etc.
Let me know if I missed anything! Please reach out if you want to help in any way. I’m so thankful for this amazing community!