Although VAL on iNaturalist automatically recruits observations of wild plants, animals, and fungi from Vermont, it is still important to join the project. Joining the project allows you to adjust your privacy settings so that VAL and partnering biologists can see the observation's exact location. This information is important for the scientists who use the observations as data points in studies and when creating conservation plans. If you choose not to join the project, your observations will still end up in our records, however we may not be able to use them in our studies.
To join VAL, or any other iNaturalist project, start by going to the project's page (link to VAL on iNaturalist here). In the top right corner, you will see "Join project" in small text above the banner--click on this. Once the page opens, you will see our terms and rules. You will also see settings. By checking the box that says "Receive updates from this project" you will get notifications when we share blog posts. These posts include Tech Tip Tuesday articles and event announcements.
There is also a setting for the visibility of your observation coordinates. When you first join, it is usually set to "Yes, but only if I add the observation to the project myself". This means that we will not be able to see any of your observations that get automatically added to the project. In order for our biologists to see the location and use your observations as data, you need to change this setting to "Yes, no matter who adds the observation to the project".
Once you have changed your settings and read the rules, you can finish joining.