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Find Your Science at GSA
8 January 2014 • GSA release no. 14-03
Director - GSA Education & Outreach
Christa Stratton
Director of Education, Communication, & Outreach
First EarthCache site in New South Wales, Australia
The first EarthCache site — New South Wales, Australia.
Click on the photo for a larger image.
EarthCache is great for all ages!
Photo by Gary Lewis.
Out and about with EarthCache
Out and about with EarthCache.
Photo by Gary Lewis.

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Spotlight on EarthCache: Ten Years Strong

Let Earth Be Your Teacher

Boulder, CO, USA –Since the first EarthCache™ was placed in Australia on 10 January 2004, four million people have visited more than 16,200 EarthCache sites in 165 countries around the globe. Why the phenomenal growth? Quite simply, because it’s fun! EarthCache adventures entice people of all ages out of doors to explore new places and incorporate learning about the dynamic planet Earth as a bonus.

On 10-11 January 2014, the EarthCache community will celebrate its 10-year birthday by participating in special celebrations around the globe. To date 125 separate events will bring thousands of people together to share their experiences and demonstrate their enthusiasm for this unique activity.

"We are also working on activities to run throughout the year to get more people involved -- photo and video competitions, a virtual 5 km race, and more," says Geological Society of America (GSA) Education & Outreach Director Gary Lewis.

The EarthCache program traces back to humble beginnings. A GSA member attending the 2003 Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, mentioned in passing that GSA should look into geocaching. That idea spurred Lewis, along with his daughters, to develop the first site (in New South Wales, Australia) -- aiming to use Earth itself to teach people about the geology under their feet.

Ten years later, "Let the Earth be your teacher" still encapsulates what the EarthCache program is about. The program continues to lead geocache enthusiasts through experiences in some amazing places in a way that a traditional geocache (a hidden plastic box with a log book) cannot.

Over the years, the EarthCache program has sought to support the people who love it -- as well as the sites and lessons they come to enjoy. Reward programs include the EarthCache Masters and Discovery Programs; social events such as EarthCache Day and annual International EarthCache Events (IEEs) help to establish a community experience for EarthCache participants. EarthCache GeoVentures -- special field trips geared for EarthCache lovers -- are also underway. These programs have resulted in many long-term friendships based on shared interests.

"Our future continues to be very bright," says Lewis, "thanks in large part to our wonderful volunteer reviewers (the 'Geoawares'), our partner Groundspeak, Inc., our dedicated volunteers, staff, and the wider geocaching community. On behalf of GSA, I want to thank all the people who have been involved."

Lewis continues, "We will build on all that we've learned and done to help 'cachers' around the world continue to enjoy and learn about all aspects of geoscience. Happy birthday EarthCache!"

The Geological Society of America, founded in 1888, is a scientific society with more than 26,500 members from academia, government, and industry in more than 100 countries. Through its meetings, publications, and programs, GSA enhances the professional growth of its members and promotes the geosciences in the service of humankind. Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, GSA encourages cooperative research among earth, life, planetary, and social scientists, fosters public dialogue on geoscience issues, and supports all levels of earth science education.