Carrie Seltzer iNaturalist Staff

Joined: Jun 15, 2012 Last Active: Jul 17, 2024 iNaturalist

I help set organizational strategy for iNaturalist and lead community fundraising & collaborations as Head of Engagement and part of the iNaturalist Leadership Team.

iNaturalist is connecting millions to nature & advancing biodiversity science, and I'm honored to be a part of it. Why? Because
People need biodiversity
Biodiversity needs people

I joined the iNaturalist team as the Stakeholder Engagement Strategist in February 2018. Before joining iNaturalist, I was a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation working on open data policy (2016-18). Prior to that, I worked at National Geographic on close collaborations with iNaturalist, particularly with the National Park Service for their centennial BioBlitzes (2014-16). I have a PhD in ecology and live in Washington, D.C.

I enjoy exploring 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 people 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 people in your area/expertise? Recruit others! Organize online events or outings.
  • For initial identifications, it's fine to be correct (e.g. "plant") without being precise (e.g. "Common Milkweed"). 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 people, the more likely other users are to interact with your observations.
  • Help others! 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 person 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.
  • You get out what you put in.

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.

I help coordinate the DC area participation in the City Nature Challenge (see how we did in 2024!). If you want to be involved in DC going forward, please join the Google Group that we use for coordination.

Next known travel destinations:

  • Chicago in late June/early July
  • San Francisco Bay Area in mid-July

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