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Website encouraging kids to get outdoors launched

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With many schools letting out this week and with National Get Outdoors Day coming up on Saturday, June 8, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has launched “Get Out Minnesota,” a new Legacy-funded website for kids ages 5 through 11.

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The site, which uses games and interactive tools to educate children about Minnesota’s natural outdoor world, can be found at www.mndnr.gov/gokids. The website will draw children to the Minnesota State Parks and Trails website, but it also encourages them to get away from computers and other electronic devices and to spend time outdoors by visiting Minnesota state parks and trails.

“We’re combining what kids already do – spend lots of time on computers and other electronic devices — with incentive to unplug and discover the natural wonders of our state parks and trails,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “Ultimately, the Get Out Minnesota website is all about connecting the next generation to the outdoors.”

Key website features include:

Animalize Yourself: Build an animal avatar – an “anitar” that’s part kid and part animal – and then email it to a friend.

What’s for Dinner?: Games and educational information about Minnesota animals.

Xtreme Pix: Tips and tricks that introduce kids to nature photography, and a gallery for them to share their own shots with each other.

Kids on the Scene: Kid-hosted videos highlighting a few don’t-miss features at Fort Snelling State Park and Interstate State Park.

Celebrity Naturalist: Trivia and informal interviews with featured naturalists.

Links and printable downloads: Resources for parents and educators, with links to both DNR and non-DNR educational materials designed for children in this age group.

Kids accrue points by playing games on the site and then visiting select Minnesota state parks, state recreation areas and state trails, where they have to seek out unique “code words” printed on posters. When kids return from their outdoor adventures, they log into the “Get Out Minnesota” website and enter the code words, which are worth 50 points each. When they earn 500 points, a certificate is unlocked that they can print out, bring to a state park and redeem for a prize.

The DNR is offering free admission at all Minnesota state parks and recreation areas on Saturday, June 8, in conjunction with National Get Outdoors Day. Many special programs will also take place at parks that day.

Funding for the Get Out Minnesota website is from the Parks and Trails Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

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