Meet Navin Sasikumar, an iNaturalist Monthly Supporter

This is the first in a series of posts interviewing members of the iNaturalist community who are also Monthly Supporters. iNaturalist Monthly Supporters give automatic, recurring charitable donations and can be recognized on their profile pages, if they choose to from their account settings. Monthly Supporters are a critical part of our community and help ensure that iNaturalist is freely available to people all over the world. You can become a Monthly Supporter by giving your first recurring donation online. Thank you!

For the rest of 2021, we'll profile several different Monthly Supporters to highlight members of the community and why they support iNaturalist.

Navin Sasikumar is a software engineer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States and an amateur urban naturalist in his spare time. Although he started with birds and birding, his interests now include all urban nature in Philadelphia. In keeping with that urban biodiversity theme, he is also a volunteer organizer for Philadelphia’s participation in the City Nature Challenge (see what they found this year—Navin made over 1000 observations during the 4 days). He also enjoys cultivating wildlife-friendly gardens in city spaces.

How did you first get into iNaturalist?
I was just starting to get interested in things other than birds and keeping records of what I saw. eBird was great to keep track of my bird sightings and I used Odonata Central for dragonflies and eButterfly for butterflies, but beyond that I had an unwieldy spreadsheet of various other organisms. That’s when a friend mentioned iNaturalist to me. I think it might have been around the time the computer vision element was launched. I tried it out and was immediately hooked. I not only had a way to keep track of all my sightings, but I could easily narrow down organisms I knew nothing about through computer vision, and I had an expert community to further help where the AI wasn’t quite as successful. I could see what else people were seeing around me and that helped me learn more about the biodiversity around me.

What made you want to donate monthly, in addition to everything else you do with iNaturalist?
iNaturalist has given me so much. A community, knowledge, and countless hours of fun. And as a software engineer, I am well aware of the costs involved in running something like iNaturalist. And I am constantly amazed at how much the small team at iNat is able to accomplish. I want to see iNat continue forever, so that motivated me to contribute via monthly donations.

What keeps you motivated?
There’s a common misconception that there is no nature in cities, so I initially set out to see if I could find 1000 species in the city of Philadelphia. Once I reached that, I set myself new cumulative species goals each year. Sort of similar to a combination of a birder’s year and life lists. The goal was 1000 species total in the city by the end of 2019, 1200 by the end of 2020, and now I hope to get 1400 by the end of 2021. All in the city of Philadelphia. And there’s just so many species I have yet to see, it’s always exciting. I can go out to a park I’ve visited hundreds of times and still find new species. It’s not hard to be motivated, it’s hard to stop iNatting.

What’s something that you’d like more members of the iNaturalist community to know or do?
I would suggest donating to iNaturalist if you have the means to and don’t donate already. The cost of running servers and storage, I would assume, is huge and even more, we also want to support the incredible staff at iNaturalist. I would also suggest working with local organizations (not only those in the nature space) to see if there are ways to increase participant diversity on iNaturalist to something that is more representative of your community at-large. The more diversity of people we have using iNaturalist, the more biodiversity we can capture on iNat.

Thank you to @navin_sasikumar and all of the Monthly Supporters!

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Posted by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer, June 24, 2021 01:44 PM


Navin has a keen eye and long had a knack for making some intriguing observations. What a great write up, and so glad to see one of our prominent Philly naturalists profiled!

Posted by michaelpirrello over 1 year ago (Flag)

We are blessed to have Navin in our Philly nature community, with his combination of motivation as a naturalist and technical savvy to figure out the capabilities of iNat and share his knowledge with the rest of us. We're thankful for the iNaturalist platform and for Navin!

Posted by danefroymson over 1 year ago (Flag)

More power to you, Navin!

Posted by susanhewitt over 1 year ago (Flag)

Great & very impressing story.Thank you!

Posted by detalit_d over 1 year ago (Flag)

Thank you for the kind words, everyone!

Posted by navin_sasikumar over 1 year ago (Flag)

So happy to have logged on to see one of our own featured here. I believe Navin is in large part responsible for getting me - and others in the naturalist community in Philadelphia and beyond - hooked on iNaturalist (which has sharpened my observational skills and broadened my knowledge base). Thank you!

Posted by annebekker over 1 year ago (Flag)

Great interview! It's inspiring! It would be nice if monthly supporters could be recognized even if the email address of their account and the email address they use for the donation is not the same~

Posted by amarzee over 1 year ago (Flag)

Way to go, Navin!!

Posted by conboy over 1 year ago (Flag)

Congrats Navin!

Posted by gracejeschke over 1 year ago (Flag)

Great stuff @navin_sasikumar! I would love to get out iNatting with you next time I'm back in Philly!

Posted by nsharp over 1 year ago (Flag)

Thanks again, everyone. @nsharp Yes! That would be great. Let me know when you are in town and we can go iNatting together.

Posted by navin_sasikumar over 1 year ago (Flag)

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