Students in Greenbrier Junior High’s EAST program have been working on an environmental tour project using geocaching.

Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which the participants use a GPS receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called geocaches, anywhere in the world.

A typical cache is a small, waterproof container that holds a logbook where the geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. After signing the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where they found it. Larger containers, such as plastic storage containers, also can contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little financial value, although sometimes they are sentimental. Geocaching can be compared to benchmarking, trigpointing, orienteering, treasure-hunting, letterboxing and waymarking.

The EcoCachers Environmental Tour started as a project to create geocaches and bring Eco-tourism into our local state parks. The EAST students learned how to create a completed map; how to use the Juno GPS units to plot the trails in Woolly Hollow and how to create a map using ArcMap. They also incorporated their map into posters that showcase their information.

Two geocaches were created to highlight key points in the park. The first one highlights the Woolly Cabin. The second one highlights the dam that created Lake Bennett. Students found geocaches that were placed by others on the trails, which gave them more ideas for tasks they had to work with and made them aware of the many choices  for  placing and creating their caches.

After mapping trails and plotting points, they were able to provide the completed poster and map to the Woolly Hollow State Park and Greenbrier’s City Event Center. After discussions with Greenbrier’s event planner, the team spawned other ideas on how to grow this project. They will continue to work with the City Center to use geocaching to get people more involved in the Greenbrier community and adjacent park.

This EAST After Hours project is funded by the Enhancing Education Through Technology grant made possible by the Arkansas Department of Education and is done in cooperation with the Southeast Educational Service Cooperative and the EAST Initiative.