BioBlitz: Making Nature More Equitable

By Katie Boughal | Posted on May 27, 2021

BioBlitz 5

Pictured left: A bee next to a native Lemon Bee Balm Flower at the Shado Creek Ranch Nature Trail in Pearland, Texas. Photo by Katie Boughal.

The Delores Fenwick Nature Center serves the City of Pearland, Texas, a small community just south of Houston. Our goal is to educate the community about local native wildlife, while also conserving native habitats throughout the city. In September 2020, we jumped at the opportunity to participate in the NRPA Parks for Pollinator BioBlitz. With the pandemic spiking in the summer of 2020, all in-person programs were canceled and many of our facilities across our city were closed to the public. The BioBlitz was a great way to engage with our community virtually and show a side to our parks they often overlook.

The Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz encourages community members to photograph and identify pollinators and plants using the iNaturalist mobile app. The iNaturalist app allows everyday people, not just nature enthusiasts, to help document and observe literally any species of plant or animal. For our BioBlitz event, we chose the natural areas around our nature center for the project.

For our BioBlitz, we had several community members participate, but we had hoped for more. As enthusiastic park and recreation employees, we evaluated the program to see how we could increase participation. By doing so, we also found ways that would make the program more equitable.

Equity is often interchanged with equality and the two terms are actually quite different. Equality means that everyone receives the same thing, while equity means that everyone receives what they need to be successful.

After evaluating our approach, we outlined several areas where we can make our future BioBlitz programs more equitable:


  • Is our community aware of the iNaturalist app?

    • In many communities, there is a widening disconnect or lack of access to nature. By creating an educational station in your facility (regardless of if it’s a nature center or not) and including information on the iNaturalist app, your community will have an opportunity to see the app before a BioBlitz is in session. This passive learning opportunity is a simple way to bring awareness to the app and other resources you might have and show that nature is everywhere. 
  • Do they know how to use the iNaturalist app?

    • Having an understanding of how to use the full capabilities of the iNaturalist app will be helpful to participants and those interested.
      • Should you host a training or create resources to easily use the app?
        • If hosting an in-person training, consider offering it for free or at little to no cost.
        • Host a training on Facebook live or another virtual site, so more people can attend or watch your recording
        • Create simple and easy-to-use resources
          • If you don’t have time, curate a list of free training resources available online
        • Does everyone in my city require the same training needs?
          • When developing resources, consider different learning needs. Non-tech savvy older adults have a much different skill level than a young family group. Offering different levels of training will help to keep participants' interest peaked and needs met.


  • Where are you hosting your BioBlitz and can people get there?

    • In creating different BioBlitz events, it might be more impactful to create a smaller zone for the project, but if the goal is to include as many people as possible, be sure to choose a geographic area that people can access from their backyard or apartment patio. Nature is everywhere, not just in our parks.
  • Is the location accessible to those of all abilities? Even wheelchairs, walkers, canes or strollers?

    • All walking paths are not the same. When choosing the location for your BioBlitz, be sure to choose a location that is also accessible to those of all different types of mobility.
    • If you are hosting a community-wide project, list those areas that are more accessible than others to ensure inclusion.
  • Technology

    • Do people in my city have access to the technology needed for the BioBlitz? Do they have smartphones?
      • Not everyone has a smartphone or tablet. Having a set of rentable technology available for people to use during the BioBlitz might help bridge the technology access gap.
    • Can they use cellular data, or do they need to be somewhere with WiFi access?
      • When creating boundaries within the BioBlitz, consider using a location that has WiFi access, or when advertising, be sure to promote the locations where WiFi is available.
  • Time Frame

    • Not all people work Monday through Friday, 9 to 5. Many people work at all hours on weekends and holidays. When setting the time frame for the BioBlitz, be sure to create a time frame that fits any type of schedule.
    • Since it’s a month-long campaign, also think about keeping it open all month long to ensure everyone can participate in their own time.
  • Communications Barriers

    • Do all people in your city speak the same language?
      • Creating signs and instructions in multiple languages will help non-English speakers to participate.
    • Will everyone understand the jargon used to explain the different species, technology or locations for the BioBlitz?
      • Chose language that is easily understandable by everyone and explain scientific terms when they need to be used.
  • Awareness

    • Do people living in or visiting your city know that the BioBlitz is happening?
      • Not everyone is on social media and many tourists that use social media might not be following your page. When creating advertising, be sure to include flyers, signage in your parks and not just rely on social media to get the word out.


  • As I mentioned earlier, the gap between humans and nature is increasing. Many people today are so far removed from the natural world that they are scared or might put themselves in harm's way because of their lack of experience and knowledge. Creating scheduled times to guide participants on exploration exhibitions during the BioBlitz will help teach the nature novices what to be wary of, where to look, and build skills so they can participate in BioBlitz programs independently in the future.

As park and recreation professionals, creating authentic recreation experiences for people in our parks is part of our job, and making sure they are equitable is a key element. I hope these questions, considerations and suggestions help you to create more equitable BioBlitz programs in the future. Please make sure to check on the additional suggestion in the NRPA Parks for Pollinators toolkit as well. 

Join us to raise awareness of pollinators nationwide by hosting a Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz in your community this September and you could win one of three $1,000 prizes or one of three Scotts Miracle-Gro prize packs to help with your pollinator habitats or programs!

Katie Boughal is a park naturalist at the City of Pearland Parks and Recreation Department in Texas.

Note: The Parks for Pollinators campaign, hosted through a partnership between the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and The ScottsMiracle-Gro Foundation, aims to raise public awareness of the pollinator crisis and encourage local action through public parks and recreation. NRPA and The ScottsMiracle-Gro Foundation believe parks play a key role in protecting and preserving pollinators and their habitats. Together, as part of ScottsMiracle-Gro’s GroMoreGood initiative, they are working to educate more children, families and communities about the importance of pollinators and what people can do to help.