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An Educational program idea...

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I am a student at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. I am currently working on my Thesis work to be displayed in the 2010 MIAD Senior Exhibition. Broadly, my Senior project is the design of a recreational and educational program raising awareness about endangered species, conservation and environmental issues in the Midwest, through the use of Geocaching. My program ultimately aims to reconnect families with children and today's younger generations with nature.

(I have never heard of geocaching before, but I am completely intrigued and stoked to incorporate it into my passion for conservation!)


I established a 6 profiles of several Midwest species that are critically endangered, endangered, threatened, or rare and designed logbooks (one for each species) that dual as field guides for each cache. Each cache will be hidden in that species habitat. Also a large portion of what I'm doing is to inform on what geocaching is, because my audience may or may not have heard of it.


I'm posting here to gain feedback on my idea as well solutions to some technical questions I have:


I need advice on how to enter them as a series of caches, functioning under the same theme. So for example:

I am naming my program "Oikoquest," when I plant a cache... and someone searches "Oikoquest" online, I would like them see all 6 caches show up in the route.


1. Would my caches be considered a "multi-caches" if all of them are physical containers?

2. Would a "Group?" on Waymarking.com be more appropriate? (If each cache is located in that endangered animal's habitat the location is significant too, not just the cache)

3. Would Geocoins be a reasonable component?

4. Can I create my own geocoins (produce them physically) with a quantity under 50 and get a tracking code?


I would really really appreciate any suggestions or support.


Thanks so much for reading, I know this post was quite long winded.

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You first need an account on geocaching.com - you can get one for free. Look on the first page if you have not already done that.


I suggest going to find a dozen or more caches before you hide yours - it gives you a much better sense of what is a quality cache, a good hide, how to rate your difficulty and terrain, etc. (When looking, I would totally skip anything that has a "micro" or "small" rating for now - try to stick to "regular" rated caches. This sounds like a better example for what you are trying to do. Bigger containers allow for information, themed trading items that may match your endangered species, geocoins, etc.) I also recommend finding a local cacher to take you on your first couple of caching trips - the conversation can be very enlightening. You learn a lot about how to hide, what to search for, what cachers like or hate about other caches, etc.


You can EITHER set these up as a 6-part multi OR a series of 6 with the same theme. I recommend separate caches - most people are more inclined to look for 6 than 1 multi.


For containers, I recommend ammo cans - you can get those at most surplus stores or online on ebay. Look for a deal - I try not to spend over $7 each with shipping myself. These are very durable, bear-proof (which matters here in the Sierras), weatherproof, have room for goodies, etc. They are also army green, so hide easily in most areas.


To create a series, use something like Oikoquest: {name of species}. Then all 6 are distinct caches by their species, but all are part of the series by the first name. Or Oikoquest 1, Oikoquest 2, etc. Or some combination thereof.


When you PLACE your caches, be sure to average your GPS coordinates, especially if your satellites are more than 20 ft in accuracy. Walk away from the cache and then back to it from multiple directions, then "MARK" each one. Then average these. This will give your cachers the best chance of locating your caches.


Ideas for cache goodies: if you have any species info, you can make a flier to go in with your log book, photos, etc. If you can find small plastic (2"?) versions of your species, you could leave several in for people to trade out. YES geocoins are a great idea. (Check with OakCoins and several of the other coin manufacturers for prices and quantity breakdowns. Also take a look at Pathtags.com - similar but smaller and cheaper - batch of 100 for $100. Refills are cheaper. There are also custom wooden nickels.) Other common trading items are small rubber snakes/lizards/bugs, keychain fobs, small caribiners, or some people make "signiture items" which are unique to that cacher and often handmade. I've seen Smokey the Bear buttons and pencils and other commercial wildlife "swag", etc.


Please feel free to email me for further conversations! I love the idea of tying in geocaching to families and education, being a mom and a teacher. My favorite caches are ones where I learn something or visit a historical place I might have missed otherwise. My absolute favorites are on trails in a park or out in the wilderness. Best of luck!


~scheibwife (Laurie)



I'm posting here to gain feedback on my idea as well solutions to some technical questions I have:

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ps - I concur with the previous post - PLEASE read on cache placement in parks and recreational lands. You can also start with the "how to place a cache" items on the geocaching.com page.


It also is often a good idea to check with parks management to be sure your placements are okay with the park/wildlands management, and that they are aware of your caches. Some parks discourage or rule against caches, some actually encourage caching as an added asset to the area's recreation and environmental education, depending on cache themes.

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Before placing a geocache in areas where there are sensitive species, you should read about "social trails" and so on. Here are three links to articles that may be informative about this matter.






Thanks Iowa Tom!

I didn't think of the "clear material" mentioned on Illinois DNR. That is a good idea, I can see it being a hazard if finders think there's something harmful inside. I am already in contact with some from the Wisconsin DNR and I'll ask them if they have any requirements along these lines...


The Acadia article is an interesting read as well!

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