Washington NatureMapping Program

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NatureMappers Progression

Graph of NatureMappers Progression

This graphic demonstrates that participation in the NatureMapping Program can be as variable as a one-time participation during a weekend hike, to a long-term project involving community, classrooms, and scientists.

By recording your observations, you are ultimately creating a pathway for your own continued exploration and discovery. This pathway can lead from the front door of your house, the classroom door to the schoolyard, or from the trails at your local learning center. Join the millions that observe wildlife and take the next step by sharing your observations so that we all learn.

Early Inquiry

Anyone can become a NatureMapper. Early inquiry of the Program is usually through the website. The website provides a way for you to share your observations by using an online data form. The data form becomes personalized as you consider some inquiry about wildlife that is based on a scientific question and the development of a NatureMapping facilitated project.


Participating in a Bioblitz is exciting and can be a good avenue for understanding the concept of biodiversity and the variety of life in a local area. Bioblitzes, such as those conducted in Pierce County, are 24-hour inventories of a specific area. Experts with different expertise (e.g., bird, mammals, insects, plants, bats, fungi, etc.) come together for a single event to record very comprehensive data on short-term observations. A primary tool used in these events is NatureTracker, a handheld data collection system with computer software that provides the ability to display locations of the observations by the end of the bioblitz. Citizens are an integral part of the bioblitz teams. Learn more >

Data Collection and Monitoring

Wildlife monitoring is the backbone of the NatureMapping Program. Recording observations from one or many locations is the key to understanding the distribution, seasonal movements, and habitat associations of the animals around us. Monitoring can be in the form of regular observations of your backyard, observations during a frequent walk, seasonal observations at stations established around the school, regular observations during the commute, or even your favorite once-per-year trip during the summer or holidays. Groups such as Seattle Audubon or the Crescent Valley Alliance just submit data from various outings.

Workshops are provided to let those participating in the NatureMapping Program progress as far as they would like, from simple monitoring to more complex projects involving various technologies. NatureMapping participants can first learn to complete and submit their observations in a two-day Data Collection and Monitoring Workshop.

Teachers may take a Teacher Preparation Workshop before the Data Collection and Monitoring Workshop to become more familiar with the terminology and skills needed to train their students.

Water is a component of biodiversity and the Water Module has an extensive source of materials, besides on-line data entry. Because so many other groups teach how to monitor, workshops are not provided.

Project Design

Monitoring over time, can often leads to questions about animal populations, population interactions, or even behavioral responses to changes in the landscape. The NatureMapping Program provides for the facilitation of workshops to develop more investigative research.

NatureMappers may develop their own projects based on monitoring data, or become involved in a research project initiated by a regional field researcher. NatureMapping Centers bring together the community and schools with the researchers. Participants can learn the methods of field investigation and work collaboratively with professionals on a variety of projects. One example is the Mule Deer Project.

Facilitation and Technology

Some projects incorporate various technologies. The NatureMapping Program facilitates the integration of technologies that are appropriate to specific projects. Some projects make use of NatureMapping Program's NatureTracker data collection software or Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Special skills employed in a project are often a reflection of the partnerships that develop from the interest and outcomes of the project. This may include learning how to read tracks in the snow, how to create transects, and advanced technology such as radio-collaring and tracking animals.

The projects and the trainings can progress over time. Project CAT is an 8-year study that became inclusive of the entire school district. The Adopt-a-Farmer project has been active for over 10 years and branches out with new research questions about every two years.

NatureMapping Training Workshops are Available >>

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