DNR goes high-tech to get families outside - KMSP-TV

DNR goes high-tech to get families outside

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With so many video games and tech gadgets competing for kids' attention these days, it can be tough to get them out of the house -- but the DNR has some options to integrate technology with outdoor exploration.

The big kickoff will come on Saturday, when families can get into the parks for free on national Get Outdoors Day. Instead of using a compass to find hidden treasures, naturalist Ellen Monson is armed with something a bit more modern.

"These are portable GPS units, and we're kind of using them to go on a treasure hunt," she explained.

The GPS devices are now at every state park, so families across the state can use them for geocaching adventures.

"This is a really good way to get kids, because kids come out here and they think, 'Well, what do I do?'" Monson explained. "Here, you can incorporate the technology and get them out and on the trails -- exploring nature and they don't even realize it."

The units guide hikers to a an area where a hidden box can be found. Inside, there are trinkets the kids can exchange and a card featuring a Minnesota bird.

Families can find more information about other programs at state parks by going online and visiting the "I Can!" workshop series.

Through the program, people can participate in free clinics like "I Can Fish" and "I Can Climb," there's also a family program called "I Can Camp" for just $35.

"We'll teach them how to build a safe fire," said Diane Hedin, at William O'Brien State Park. "They can learn how to do it so they can do it on their own sometime."

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