Chugach Corner: Agents of Discovery, where technology and nature combine

Eager Agents of Discovery participants ready to embark on an adventure on the Haystack Trail in April 2018. Photo courtesy of the USFS Cordova Ranger District

Come join Cordova Ranger District Forest Rangers on National Trails Day on Saturday, June 5, for an immersive outdoors experience along the Haystack Trail. Participants will get a chance to take in the natural habitat and discover clues with the educational and fun mobile game Agents of Discovery.

“Agents of Discovery is an amazing app that the US Forest Service and many other state and federal agencies use in connecting folks to place,” said Oliviah Franke, the Alaska Region’s Every Kid Outdoors Resource Assistant. “It works like Pokémon Go. It’s a technology-driven scavenger hunt.”

Agents of Discovery encourages outdoor play and recreation: to play you have to be outdoors. The player is a “secret agent” and, working with their trusty animal guide Ruby Red Salmon, completes the assigned mission.

The app helps “agents” learn about the area as challenges pop up on their phone. Haystack Trail, on the Cordova Ranger District, is one of the favorites on the Chugach National Forest and is a great one to start out on.

The Alaska Region has been a partner with Agents of Discovery since 2015, and the app has evolved significantly over that time, with new types of challenges and new technology being added. We hope a lot of folks can get out and complete the US Forest Service Agents of Discovery missions this summer.

For the month of June, the focus will be on the exciting network of trails on the Cordova Ranger District, and all the flora and fauna you’ll see along the way. Trail etiquette, and the seven principles of Leave No Trace are also part of the mission.

The Agents of Discovery app is an exciting tool that blends science, nature, history, culture and technology, and at the end of their mission, AOD Secret Agents will have experienced how to be better stewards of their public lands.

Amanda Williams is a VetsWork intern working for the Forest Service as a public outreach specialist on the Cordova Ranger District. Williams is a Navy veteran who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom.