Black Friday Opt Out-Side Challenge: November 29, 2019

by Linda Jo Conn

Are you eagerly plotting out your itinerary for a day of frenzied shopping on Black Friday?  Looking forward to the crowded aisles and long lines at the checkout stations?  Can’t wait to join thousands of others bargain hunting for Christmas season deals and gifts that the ads and commercials have been urging us to buy because they are deemed necessary for happiness and fulfillment on Christmas Day? 

Photo by Ann Collins.

Just thinking about all that hassle makes me want to pull back into my shell, just like this three-toed box turtle shown on the left.  Fellow ECR member Ann Collins observed this Terrapene carolina ssp. triunguis, a species of concern, in the suburbs of Milano in 2018.

I certainly will not be charging out of my front door before dawn on Friday to spend my money and rub elbows with other frenzied shoppers.   

What I am doing is challenging all fellow El Camino Real Texas Master Naturalist Chapter members and friends to an alternate activity for the day: The Black Friday Opt Out-Side Challenge. 

The challenge is to spend some time (fifteen minutes to as long as you like) on Friday outside observing wildlife alone or with friends and family.  This challenge can be done wherever you are and whenever you wish on Black Friday 2019, November 29th. 

While outside, take a photo (or several photos if necessary for identification) of each item listed below and submit your observations to your account on by midnight on Monday, December 2nd.

  • a native plant,
  • a wild mammal or a wild bird,
  • a lichen or a bryophyte,
  • an insect or a reptile.

In other words, four observations total, but if you add more you will certainly not be penalized!   

Not yet a member of iNaturalist?  iNat is a terrific asset to Texas Master Naturalists and to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.  Not only can iNat expand your personal knowledge about the natural environment, but each of your contributions adds to the data base of information about all wildlife in Texas. Ann Collins is shown on the right taking a photo with her I-phone of a common slider turtle, Trachemys scripta, observed during an ECRTMN jaunt on Milam county backroads to document wildlife.  This is a great example of the fun you can have Black Friday instead of looking for a parking space in a crowded parking lot. 

If you need more information on using iNaturalist or a refresher video, see:

To ensure your Black Friday Opt Out-Side observations on iNaturalist are not overlooked, please email your iNaturalist user name to

Enter your V.E. hours under either:

  • Cit. Sci.- iNaturalist Recording of Milam County Species: TMN Field Research Hours, or
  • Cit. Sci.- All TPWD Nature Trackers and iNaturalist Observations

Certificates of Achievement will be awarded at the December ECRTMN meeting!

Enjoy your day outside opting out of Black Friday.  

Contact with any questions.

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