MICHIGAN—On Aug. 4, visitors to Hiawatha National Forest’s Point Iroquois Light House discovered yet another great way to get outside and explore the nation’s only national forest with lighthouses! The event, timed to coincide with the Michigan Lighthouse Festival in nearby Paradise, allowed visitors of all ages to participate in the launch of the Hiawatha’s first mobile gaming “mission” using Agents of Discovery®, an award-winning mobile gaming application. In addition to trying out the new AOD mission, participants played trivia, learned knot tying, did crafts and enjoyed live musical performances.
How did it go?
“It was a hit! Children and adults alike found a new way to connect with these iconic historic and cultural resources. Watching a grandmother and grandson navigate their way through the challenges, smiling all the way, was a special experience that I will not soon forget,” said Sean O’Donnell, U.S. Forest Service recreation technician who coordinated the event.
O’Donnell explained that the event is part of the Forest Service’s effort to raise awareness of the forest’s unique recreation niche.
“With shoreline on three of the Great Lakes, the Hiawatha National Forest is definitely the Great Lakes National Forest! Plus, we are the only national forest unit that manages lighthouses,” explained O’Donnell. “In addition to all the great things national forests do everywhere, this is something really special we have here.”
Organizers were thrilled that even with wet weather, about 200 visitors of all ages participated in the event, enthusiastically embracing technology as a way to learn more about this unique National Forest and its role in preserving our local maritime history.
According to Conservation Education Director Michiko Martin, "Agents of Discovery connects young people to their public lands. Conservation and stewardship remain as important as they were when the Forest Service was founded 110 years ago. We are helping to translate and deliver these values through games and technology, the language of kids today."
Why is this important?
“In order to ensure our public lands are conserved into the future, future leaders need to understand the benefits of public land and feel connected to the resources,” explained Melissa O’Donnell, Hiawatha National Forest education specialist.
Conservation education activities, including this project, give participants the opportunity to experience public lands firsthand and to forge those important emotional connections.