Wednesday, August 19, 2015

My Experience Using

By Sarah Catching, TeenNat Intern
June 22, 2015

Sarah Catching leans in for a closeup photo
I love spiders. All other arthropods included, but mostly spiders. The only problem is most people don’t love spiders. It’s rare for me to find someone to talk to about spiders I used to just keep it all to myself, recording what I found and leaving it at that. That is, until I was introduced to during my TeenNat summer internship. I think the best way to describe my discovery of is as a window opening: I knew there must be other spider nerds out there like me, but I just didn’t know how to find them. is like social media for scientists and being someone who isn’t a scientist (yet) it is so cool to think that I have the opportunity to not only view the findings of professionals, but to also put my own discoveries out there. 

Uploading data to
During TeenNat we had the daily recordings that we would put up onto iNat and we all found ourselves with anywhere from 20 to over 500 entries at the end of August. It was so satisfying seeing my findings over the two months, ranging from beetles to lizards and, of course, spiders. It seemed like I was receiving almost daily notifications that someone had seen or identified  something of mine which was not only educational but also super exciting because what I was putting out was being seen. My only fear was that after TeenNat was over I would forget, that I would forget to put my entries in, and I would lose that connection with the community.

But, the thing is, I couldn’t forget and it certainly didn’t forget me. Every time I saw a bug I would race to find my little blue camera and my field guides. Of course, as life kept moving faster I found myself with less time to play outside looking for new creatures, although I still ran across the occasional house spider that I simply had to share with the rest of the world. Every spider is special and adorable to me and deserves recognition.

Spider photographed by Sarah Catching
So now,  here I am a year after my TeenNat experience, still logging entries into and going back to Pepperwoord whenever I am able. A part of my heart lives in Pepperwood, and being on is almost like being back with the rest of the group riding in the van to Turtle Pond, hiking up hills, counting Sword Ferns, and finding scorpions. is my connection to others who share my passion for spiders and insects, but more than that, it is my portal back to last summer. 

Sarah out on the preserve with field notebook
Another spider photographed by Sarah Catching

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