Introducing Phoenix Area Families to Local Nature Through Nature Quests
Have you ever had trouble persuading a kid to get outside? There are so many things to occupy kids (and adults!) indoors that sometimes it can feel as though getting them outside and enjoying nature is a lost cause.
But when was the last time you heard a kid turn down an opportunity to take part in a treasure hunt?
Audubon Arizona and their partners know that kids who don’t have opportunities to get outside and enjoy themselves in nature can hardly be expected to want to protect nature as they grow up. They realized that by creating a series of outdoor, nature-focused treasure hunts—called quests—they could persuade more kids to get outdoors, explore, have fun, and hopefully develop a passion for conservation.
With a 2009 Innovation Grant and the help of “questing” guru Steve Glazer, the project team trained more than 40 natural resource managers, environmental educators, and classroom educators to create and conduct nature quests for kids, teens, and families. They also created the Nature Quest Arizona website, which allows Arizonans to log on and find a quest near them. (Register on the site to see the quests—and get inspired to create quests in your area!)
Thanks to their efforts, more than 500 people have already taken part in nature quests around the state, and the numbers are continuing to grow. At least 50 of the original 500 participants signed up to volunteer for conservation work days with Audubon Arizona—suggesting that nature quests can indeed help turn people into conservationists. And one group of high school students from central Phoenix had such fun completing a quest that they created their own for the city’s South Mountain Park. Their teacher now plans to incorporate quest building into his curriculum every year because he found it to be so effective in engaging students in both biology and language arts.
As an incentive for kids and their families to keep on questing, participants can find a small metal tag printed with a “secret code” at the end of each quest. When they submit five such codes to the Nature Quest Arizona website, they’ll win a free pass to their choice of either the Phoenix Zoo or an Arizona State Park. Treasure indeed!