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App makes kids agents for nature

Photo: Kids posing while in Scouts uniform.
Scouts from Troop 116 use to the new Agents of Discovery app to explore Tingley Beach and the bosque (forest) nearby. Photo courtesy of Marla Brose, Albuquerque Journal.

On National Get Outdoors Day, the Cibola National Forest, in partnership with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the City of Albuquerque, rolled out three new mission sites for the interactive mobile game, Agents of Discovery. This nature-based based app, similar to Pokémon Go, seeks to motivate young children and their families to get out and active by offering site-specific challenges that educate users about the unique environment that surrounds them. Agents are given a mission that is individual to each site, and, using the geo-location on their phones, are guided through a series of challenges, questions and learning activities that reveal what is special about the natural environment around them. The three new mission sites rolled out this past weekend were the Sandia Crest Trail, Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge and the ABQ BioPark. In addition to a uniquely designed mission, each site also receives a specially created mascot (see picture below).

"We're excited to launch the Agents of Discovery app for our kids," said Cal Joyner, Regional Director of the Forest Service Southwestern Region. "It gives them a fun way to engage with our public lands — and learn about the connection between our watersheds and drinking water."

In less than one week, these three missions were downloaded more than 235 times! You can download the FREE mobile app for iPhone or Android and discover a new way to learn about our natural world. Agents of Discovery offers more than 75 missions across the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, guiding young people through forests, parks, preserves, museums and other public spaces.

Apple Snider, Regional Cooperative Education Supervisor for the Forest Service Southwest Region, talks to the public about the newest mission sites for the Agents of Discovery app during a National Get Outdoors Event, June 10, at Tingley Beach in Albuquerque, NM. Forest Service photo.