Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
SACRAMENTO NWRC: Connecting People to Nature Through Geocaching!
California-Nevada Offices , September 1, 2008
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Sacramento NWR Youth Conservation Corps crew tests the Complex-wide Nature’s Mystery Geocache. (photo: USFWS)
Sacramento NWR Youth Conservation Corps crew tests the Complex-wide Nature’s Mystery Geocache. (photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

By Jennnifer Stockton, Sacramento NWRC

These days, it seems that some families would rather see the world on a computer or television screen rather than experiencing it firsthand, which poses a challenge for those of us working in visitor service programs on national wildlife refuges. How can we reach through those screens to inspire families to come out to the refuges? At the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, we may have found one answer – mystery geocaching.


Mystery geocaching combines today’s technology, using a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit, with the good old-fashioned fun of a scavenger hunt. Visitors use clue sheets and their GPS unit to arrive at specific locations throughout the Refuge Complex, where they then complete a task. This activity does not involve finding or leaving a cache because, as many of you know, that is prohibited on wildlife refuges. Instead, there is a final log book and cache waiting near the Complex Visitor Center once the mystery has been solved!


Our Youth Conservation Corps crews were the first to test the Complex-wide Nature’s Mystery Geocache. Since offering our program to the public in September, more than 30 people have solved the Sensing Nature Geocache at Sacramento NWR, with our “first-to-find” occurring within a week of the program being posted on geocaching.com; a Web site that lists geocaches around the world.


We have also hosted a Solve the Mystery Geocache interpretive program. Visitors are invited to learn how to geocache, and we make sure that they solve their first cache at the Refuge. Twenty-six visitors signed up for our initial offering and we believe that it was a great success! Apparently geocachers agree, as Bishoptakesqueen posted, “What a fun cache for a beautiful site,” on the Sensing Nature Geocache log on geocaching.com.


If you’re interested in solving the mystery geocaches please visit us on the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/sacramentovalleyrefuges/geocache.html



Contact Info: Jennifer Stockton, 530-934-2801 x15, jennifer_stockton@fws.gov
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