The other evening, as we were eating our dinner, I looked up and saw an opossum sauntering through our backyard. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. I wanted to catch it on camera but I knew I had just moments to either find my camera or point the creature out to my children. So instead of capturing his evening stroll, I called all my kids to the window to watch him.
I’ve lived in the Chicago suburbs my whole life and seen deer, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and even ducks wandering through our yard. But I’d never seen a possum. It made me wonder what other animals we might find around our suburban town. As we read a picture book about animals in the city and found a way to help scientists through a citizen science project, we have learned more about how animals interact in our city as well as which ones are most common. Joining in an actual research project as a “citizen scientist” has made science feel more pertinent on a daily basis.