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BioBlitz adds to growing Biodiversity Project

New Circle J program invites students on an outdoor adventure with technology

Circle J-Norris Ranch BioBlitz

In September, the Circle J-Norris Ranch program will launch a new student event entitled BioBlitz. Students in grades 4-12 are invited to join program education coordinator Nancy Bruce and local scientists to document the biodiversity of Circle J, discovering unique living organisms and photographing them using the iNaturalist app. The event will be held Saturday, September 17, from 9:00 a.m. until noon.

The students’ findings will be uploaded to the Circle J Biodiversity Project on the iNaturalist website. “As observations are acquired and added to the project, we will be able to create online instructional resources, such as a field guide to dragonflies of Circle J, or guides on wildflowers, reptiles and amphibians,” said Ms. Bruce. “Classes coming on field trips any time during the year can access those guides before they visit the ranch in order to learn more about the species they will see.”

Circle J-Norris Ranch BioBlitz

Ms. Bruce reports that the Biodiversity Project will go on for years, with students being challenged to become explorers of the natural world, discovering species that no one else has seen before. On a recent visit to Circle J, students from the Monache High School (Porterville) Environmental Science Academy utilized the iNaturalist app for the first time. “As soon as I showed them the app, they went from standing up to crouching down to photograph the organisms,” said Ms. Bruce. “One discovery led to another. It was a great way to apply technology in the outdoors, helping students discover and document wildlife, plants and fungi.”

Circle J-Norris Ranch is the beautiful 620-acre field trip site in the Sierra foothills that is part of the SCICON program. The program offers all grade levels a wide variety of field study experiences that enrich and extend classroom learning. Programs conducted on the property are designed to expand the appreciation of the environmental and aesthetic values of the outdoors, and increase understanding of the relationship between humans and nature.

In addition to the BioBlitz event, Circle J will offer its popular astronomy nights this fall. Beginning August 25, students and their families are invited to view some spectacular celestial objects as part of seven astronomy evenings at Circle J-Norris Ranch. A team of local amateur astronomers will help parents and students use the telescopes and guide them to view planets, star clusters and distant galaxies. Visitors will also learn the ancient mythologies of the constellations and how to identify the stars that they contain.

For more information on attending the BioBlitz event, call Nancy Bruce at (559) 539-2263. For a list of the upcoming astronomy night events, visit

Photos above:
~ Students from the Monache High School Environmental Science Academy utilize the iNaturalist app to capture images of plant and animal species at Circle J-Norris Ranch. The app will be a key component of Circle J’s new BioBlitz event on September 17.