Meet Jazz (turtlehelper), an iNaturalist Monthly Supporter

This is the fourth interview in a series getting to know members of the iNaturalist community who are also Monthly Supporters. You can also read the first, second, and third interviews.

Jazz (@turtlehelper) from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada is passionate about conserving turtle species at risk and has been a part of many turtle data collection projects for the last 10 years. She can often be seen walking along busy roads adjacent to wetlands, moving turtles across roads, tracking mortalities, transporting injured turtles, and observing nesting sites. Jazz enjoys being outdoors doing fieldwork, but also taking opportunities to interact with the scientific community to educate herself and others. Currently, she is in the Herpetology Internship Program at Scales Nature Park (near Orillia).

Jazz with a Northern Map Turtle near Georgian Bay

How did you first get into iNaturalist?
My love of Ontario’s turtles led me to seek out volunteer opportunities over the years, but one particular project introduced me to iNaturalist. In 2019, several volunteers and I joined a local road ecology project which involved completing walking surveys and collecting data. Our job was to track all living and deceased wildlife found on a specific section of road, at certain times of the day. For this project we used iNaturalist on our smartphones, then added our geotagged pictures and other notes to the assigned project. Our data was used for road mortality and mitigation studies and to track populations of species-at-risk turtles and snakes. I had a positive first impression of using iNaturalist. Previously, volunteer projects required additional equipment and data was written out manually then entered into an online form. Using iNaturalist was a quicker process and more convenient!

Since contributing to that first project using iNaturalist, I have contributed data to many other projects, tracked new turtle populations on roads and in wetlands, learned about adjacent flora and fauna, and made regional projects (like this one for Waterloo) to help others get excited about species ID in their respective areas.

What made you want to donate monthly, in addition to everything else you do with iNaturalist?
I’ve had iNaturalist for a few years now, and enjoy using it on a regular basis because it keeps me curious and connected with nature. I donate monthly because I believe in the work being done and see iNaturalist as a useful tool for the world. For one, it helps people engage with their environment, learn species IDs, study the information, and interact with those who are more knowledgeable. iNaturalist is a forum to exchange learning; a bridge between scientists and the community. Second, iNaturalist is a worldwide collection of data that can potentially be used for positive changes in the natural world. iNaturalist needs the ongoing support, so all this work can grow and continue. Some days I collect lots of data, so I would like to at least cover my share of space on the server, if not donate more one day when I can afford it.

What keeps you motivated?
Having a target species to look for
I focus my efforts on turtles, building a repertoire of places to visit, and observing their behaviour in their habitat. I’m never done learning about them! I also learn about plants growing around the wetland where the turtles live, or notice other species that live nearby. It’s motivating to have something specific when you are out in nature.

Studying field guides and cross-referencing with other nature apps.
I own lots of physical guides for local herps, birds, plants etc. and other apps that I can cross reference for information when I go out. For example, I have apps that can play frog or bird calls and a guide that shows the differences between frogs that look similar. Of course, iNaturalist users can help me with IDs, but having my own references beforehand helps me to make informed guesses.

Joining meaningful projects and events on iNaturalist
I am motivated to contribute to projects that need data on species-at-risk needing protection. I seek out projects that help me learn more about the life and habitat of Ontario’s reptiles and amphibians. I have also been motivated by joining local Bioblitzes. These are opportunities I like because you are intentionally looking for certain species in a set area.

Just going out and looking for something new
When I am not looking for turtles, I look for any species I have never seen before, especially if visiting a different area. I look for odd shapes, bright colours, different textures, etc. When I feel unmotivated it gives me something to “hunt” for when using iNaturalist.

Interacting with others in person (consider pandemic rules first!)
I joined a nature club because it adds a social aspect you just can’t get the same way online. Also, going in the field with experts makes my time more enjoyable and learning is more nuanced. When someone shows me a species in person, it gives me more confidence for the next time I encounter it in the wild.

What’s something that you’d like more members of the iNaturalist community to know or do?
Learning should be a positive experience. When correcting others, try to be friendly and patient with people. Similarly, it’s better to ask questions rather than jump to conclusions. Give helpful answers to get others excited about what they are learning!

Thank you to @turtlehelper and all of the Monthly Supporters! We’re grateful to everyone who is generous with their time, expertise, and other gifts. 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!

Become a Monthly Supporter

iNaturalist is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. All donations will be received by the California Academy of Sciences, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt not-for-profit organization based in the United States of America (Tax ID: 94-1156258). Gifts can be made online in more than 40 different currencies via bank account, credit/debit card, or PayPal.

Publicado por carrieseltzer carrieseltzer, 23 de noviembre de 2021


Thanks so much for all of your work and your support @turtlehelper! And I especially love:

Learning should be a positive experience. When correcting others, try to be friendly and patient with people. Similarly, it’s better to ask questions rather than jump to conclusions. Give helpful answers to get others excited about what they are learning!

Publicado por tiwane hace 2 meses (Marca)

Very impressive response to interview questions and an excellent general attitude reflecting the essence of what most of us heavily engaged in iNaturalist believe in. Well done Jazz!!

Publicado por deanthompson hace 2 meses (Marca)

Way to go, Jazz! :)

Publicado por sambiology hace 2 meses (Marca)

Greeting Jazz,

Thanks for your interest in turtle conservation. Motorists will oversteer and brake in avoiding a turtle fatality. People love turtles. Wouldn't it be nice if people regarded snakes in the same way? On my property lies a two acre pond that could have potential as a turtle sanctuary for rehab and displaced turtles or turtle species in decline.

Keep up the good work!


Publicado por mentone-mentor-wi... hace alrededor de 2 meses (Marca)

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