Carrie Seltzer iNaturalist Staff

Joined: Jun 15, 2012 Last Active: Nov 27, 2021 iNaturalist

I've been iNaturalist's Stakeholder Engagement Strategist since February 2018. We're a small team so I have a variety of responsibilities. I coordinate the international iNaturalist Network and other stakeholder relationships (especially collaborating organizations). I also support the Monthly Supporters, other online fundraising, the iNat Store, as well as communications and outreach, as needed.

Before joining iNaturalist, I was an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation working on open data policy. Prior to that, I worked at National Geographic on BioBlitz collaborations, particularly with the National Park Service and iNaturalist. I have a PhD in ecology and live in Washington, D.C.

I help coordinate the DC area participation in the City Nature Challenge (see how we did in 2021!). If you want to be involved in DC for 2022, please join the Google Group that we use for coordination.

I am enjoying getting to know the pockets of protected forest and other habitats in and around DC. I am especially trying to explore all of the trails and forests in DC east of the Anacostia River in wards 7 & 8. Here you can see where I've explored in DC so far. I also have a project for observations from my home.

My advice to new users:

  • Look for other users in your area. Comment on their observations, favorite the cool ones, and add IDs.
  • Check out the iNatForum. It's a great place to get help and exchange ideas.
  • Not many users in your area/expertise? Recruit others! Organize online events or (safe) outings.
  • For initial identifications, it's fine to be correct (e.g. "plant") without being precise (e.g. "Common Dandelion"). If you're the kind of person who is anxious about looking ignorant with a general ID, don't stress because we're all here to learn (I tend to hear this concern from professional biologists, often outside their specific area of expertise who are particularly self-conscious because of their credentials.)
  • This is a social network, so the more you interact with other users, the more likely other users are to interact with your observations.
  • Help other users! Add and confirm identifications for species you are familiar with. There are always plenty of observations that don't have any id at all and in that case even adding "plant" or "insect" is helpful.
  • Be the kind of user you'd want to interact with. Basically, be a good iNaturalist citizen (helpful, friendly, kind, firm-but-polite when necessary). De-escalate the conversation if it gets heated. Don't engage if you can't.
  • Be gracious when giving and receiving corrections. We all make ID mistakes sometimes. That's part of learning. Ask for clarification and try not to make unhelpful assumptions.
  • Join relevant projects and add your observations to them. I'm always trying to get more people involved in AfriBats!
  • You get out what you put in.

In general, I take mediocre photos, like commenting to welcome & encourage new users (try it out with this filter for accounts created in the last day), and am not very good at birds, though I'm getting better now that I have a better camera & lens for photographing them. I previously managed National Geographic's Great Nature Project which was a collaboration with iNaturalist. Before working for National Geographic, I got a PhD in Ecology (I studied seed dispersal in Tanzania and choreographed a dance about it). I'm a proud graduate of Earlham College which has a long history of training field biologists, educators, activists, and museum professionals. I was interviewed about Earlham and iNaturalist for a short video. I love meeting other iNaturalist enthusiasts and learning how to find and identify new things.

Next known travel destinations:

  • Dayton, Ohio area in late July
  • New Jersey pine barrens in early August
  • Michigan in mid-August
  • but mostly I'm really enjoying exploring in DC and within an hour or two of driving

My recent macro photos are all taken on my iPhone XS with a Ztylus Revolver lens (available for other phones too). It lets me quickly switch between macro, super macro, and non-macro. It comes with fisheye and wide angle lenses too, but I almost never use those and I think it's worth it for the macro alone. It's the quickest, least fiddly cell phone macro I've found.

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