Wildlife refuge testing activity that uses GPS to guide learning

GeoAdventure, a new interpretive activity at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, allows families and youth to combine technology and learning

GPS-wielding visitors can explore a refuge trail on their own, playing the role of biologist, geologist or archeologist. Developed as a pilot program last fall by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Friends of the Ridgefield, GeoAdventure aims to build appreciation for the refuge’s unique cultural and natural resources as well as the contribution of specific sciences to conservation, said a refuge news release.

Each participant receives a small bag filled with printed materials, natural objects, clues and a journal. Using GPS coordinates in the journal, a GeoAdventurer finds waypoints along the trail. Personal observations combine with journal entries and clues to help adventurers answer questions about nature posed at each waypoint. By switching waypoints and scientific roles, participants can have a new trail experience on many visits.

GeoAdventurers don’t need to have GPS devices. However, those who want to use them need to bring their own.

If the pilot is successful, Fish and Wildlife Service staff members hope to expand it to other Pacific Region refuges.

The News Tribune