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Nature Scene Investigators (NSI): On A Not-So-Secret Mission to Get Families Outdoors

Nature Scene Investigators (NSI): On A Not-So-Secret Mission to Get Families Outdoors

Nature Scene Investigators (NSI) are a rare breed. The unit’s top investigators can uncover evidence of a coyote on a trail and spy a woodpecker’s acorn stash with one glance. This young, but elite force works as a team within their family, with friends, or sometimes alone to solve the missions presented to them in their 2010 NSI Operations Guide.  They do not fear the outdoor world. They revel in it.

They dig deep.

Sure, they carry a crayon. But they only use it when they find the designated rubbing plate in one of 11 nature locations around Orange County. Their crazy attention to detail and accuracy is evident in their careful recording of the secret 3-letter/number code in the back of their guidebook for entry onto the Get Outdoors! OC website.

Perhaps their most impressive trait? They are not daunted when presented with extra, unexpected tasks to complete their mission. They are Nature Scene Investigators — and with Mom and Dad’s help — these kids will grow into the most creative, think-outside-the-box, nature-loving, and active adults you’ve ever met.

Meet My Heroes

I am absolutely blown away by the 5 high-schoolers (Abby, Alex, Jenna, John, and Lily) who took a lead role creating the FREE Nature Science Investigator Operations Guide as their Service-Learning project for Sage Hill School. I’m literally bursting with pride for these clever students. I only got to chat with them for a short time at the launch of their guidebook this weekend at the Shipley Nature Center, but I can’t wait to see what’s next on their agenda.

The Get Outdoors! OC initiative is designed to get kids and families outside recreating in, learning from, and becoming healthier together in nature. It was started by Inside the Outdoors, OC Parks, and the Orange County Health Care Agency. REI and the State Farm Youth Advisory Board also came forward with grant funding.  There are many more behind-the-scenes heroes who made this dream a reality.  I salute each and every one of you for all your hard work and effort.

Kim Casey from the Inside the Outdoors, a self-supporting environmental education program administered by the Orange County Department of Education, and Cedric Odom from the Orange County Health Care Agency worked with the students for the past two years (WOW!) to get this project off the ground. Cedric  pitched  in all the health activities and health facts for each of the parks.

Kim says, “I worked with the students every service learning day to get the text written and all the additional activities planned out. I also helped by visiting the parks and facilitating meetings with park rangers to get them on board and get the rubbing plates installed.”

Your Training Starts Now – Are You Ready?

I bet you can’t wait to get your hands on this book! We completed our first family mission at Shipley Nature Center. 10 more await. We will not be rushing through this guidebook. I want  it to enjoy it and have it take us some time.

Register! You only need one book per family or group. You must register to win prizes. You can register and print your guidebook online from If you really want the hard copy (which is SUPER cool, by the way) you can find a list of where to pick up the guidebooks on the Before You Go tab under NSI.

You’ll find links to a few of the NSI locations through this site, too. No hints, though. Nature Scene Investigators make discoveries on their own!

Have fun, play often!

Cher Klosner Lane

Monday 29th of March 2010

What an amazing group of teens!What a great idea, and I can't wait to use the guide when I'm out in California! Fantastic job, everyone!


Friday 19th of March 2010

Sounds like a group of kids after my own heart. I'm a nature-loving mom raising two boys to be the same. You guys are impressive! .-= Karen´s last blog ..New templates =-.

Cindy C.

Friday 19th of March 2010

What a great idea!! I'm very impressed with their initiative and dedication to getting the project done. Two years?? Wow. Kudos to them on a job well done.


Thursday 18th of March 2010

These high school students are BRILLIANT!! Why weren't high school projects THIS fun when we were kids? Am I THAT old already!! Can hardly await to embark on our first mission with my own kids now that we have a guide to follow!! Thanks for all the inspiration! I'll be passing this on to all the Moms I know to get the word out that this guide ROCKS (pun intended!)


Thursday 18th of March 2010

What a wonderful group of young adults. Thanks for sharing their accomplishment with us!

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