Located a short distance from downtown Wilmington, Delaware, the Beaver Valley unit of First State National Historical Park (NHP), is a treasure of winding nature trails along the Brandywine Creek. To celebrate the National Park Service Centennial, First State NHP, Delaware's first and only national park unit, brought together professionals from the National Park Service (NPS), The Nature Conservancy in Delaware, and a dozen other conservation partners for a weekend of discovery on May 20-21, 2016.
A BioBlitz is a fun, fast-paced biological survey of a park's creepers and crawlers, plants and pollinators, mammals and more. First State NHP was one of more than 100 BioBlitzes, happening on the same two days across the country. The citizen-science experience provided students and residents from the greater Delaware region with a unique opportunity to get outdoors, discover the nature around them and share stories of the area before it was designated a unit of the NPS. All participants over the two event days were encouraged to use an app called iNaturalist, to inventory their awesome finds in the park!
On Friday, May 20, 200 middle and high school students rotated between inventory and education stations. These stations featured walk-and-talks on botany, entomology, ornithology, and wetland habitats. Students discovered the plants and wildlife that call their community home, and learned how to be better stewards of these natural wonders.
The following day, the park invited the public to participate in guided nature hikes and exploration stations. Notable discoveries included insects, slimy toads, and a few, very large spiders! The festival area included local vendors, scientists, and a photo booth with nature and NPS themed props. In addition, the Citizen-History team had several tables set up for the public to share their oral history, or have their documents and photos scanned to be archived with the NPS. Despite a gloomy forecast, nearly 100 visitors braved the weather and participated in the day's activities. To see photos of the First State NHP BioBlitz, visit the First State Facebook page.