Haywood Community College
Contacts: Debra M. Davis, Diana S. Conard
185 Freedlander Drive
Clyde, NC 28721
828-627-4521 Fax: 828-627-4513
For immediate release.
HCC'S GEOCACHE PROVES A POPULAR DESTINATION
By Diana Conard
Can you help get a NASCAR travel bug to Darlington, South Carolina? How about Pinky the Beach Bum closer to the beach? You just might be able to help if you visit Mill Pond Crawl, the cache located near the Mill Pond on the HCC Campus.
Blair Bishop, HCC Geographic Information System/Global Positioning System Technology and Forest Management Technology instructor hid the cache on the campus on November 8, 2004.
Since then, over 40 visits have been logged with various treasures passing through such as Macdonald's gift certificates, World Trade Center decal, windsock, Tennessee Vols keychain, silver heart charm, Astro Boy figurine, Playskool dinosaur, and Lego dude. Seven travel bugs have also spent some time there, traveling a total of 87,771 miles.
According to www.geocaching.com, geocaching is an adventure game, a modern day treasure hunt, for GPS users. Some participants set up caches (pronounced cashes) all over the world and share their locations on the Internet. Users apply the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, the caches contain a wide variety of rewards, such as maps, books, CDs, or small toys. They may sometimes contain a hitchiker or travel bug-an item that can be moved from place to place, sometimes with a specific destination determined. Visitors to a cache are asked to sign a log and if they take a reward, leave something in its place. Each geocache is rated by difficulty of location and terrain.
The term cache can mean information stored in memory for faster retrieval or a hiding place for concealing and preserving provisions. Caches are usually waterproof containers and can be located above or below ground, as well as inside or outside a building.
"Geocaching is a great opportunity to bring people on campus to explore the grounds and encourage GPS enthusiasts to check out our campus," Bishop explains. "It's a fun way of exposure, a tool to introduce the topic of GIS/GPS."
What does a person need to get started in the geocaching sport? Simple-a GPS unit, an electronic device that can determine your approximate location on the planet. These units usually range from $100 to $1000 and can be found at any boat supply store, camping store, or online.
"There are different grades of units-recreational, mapping, and surveying. The recreational grade is used by the general public for navigation and sport, a tool to get off the beaten path," Bishop said. "The mapping grade allows people to walk areas and boundaries. The surveying grade is primarily used by professionals and enables the user to store data, such as inventory or slope. Both the mapping and surveying grades allow individuals to log positions."
When Bishop placed the cache on HCC's campus, he included a disposable camera, HCC pencils, calendars, slinkies, and information on GIS/GPS.
A message left by one visitor to the Mill Pond Crawl proclaims the spot to be "by far the most beautiful place we have ever cached."
According to Bishop, jobs in the GIS/GPS field are projected for high growth in the next several years. Units are bringing information such as county maps, sewer lines, and real estate up to date by developing digital databases.
"GIS/GPS technology is commonly used with natural resource jobs as a way to monitor insect or disease outbreaks or study soil erosion or water quality problems," Bishop explains."
Other uses may include emergency response professionals, private surveyors, architectural firms, or private environmental consulting groups.
To learn more about the Mill Pond Crawl or HCC's GIS/GPS program, please call Blair Bishop at 627-4566. For information on HCC's Natural Resources programs, call Student Services at 627-4500.
(Cutline:) (photo by Debra M. Davis) HCC Natural Resources students Kira Sherrill and Paul Saurer discover Mill Pond Crawl, the cache located near the Mill Pond on the HCC Campus. They are using a recreational GIS/GPS unit much like what most visitors to the site would use to find the location.