Things tend to slow down here during the summer–but this week, you wouldn’t know it by taking a look outside. Swarms of folks are walking through campus on this sunny day, hanging out by the lake, walking along the forest preserve’s edge, observing the wetland, and gathering around the many outdoor sculpture pieces. Why you ask? Perhaps it has something to do with the 15 Pokéstops on our Des Plaines campus or the two gyms (which are currently held by yellow and red…but have seen some fluctuation). Pokémon Hunters who have downloaded Pokémon Go have plenty of opportunities to explore, capture, and refuel while on campus (in between classes of course). You’ll find your fair share of common urban Pokémon like Pidgey and Rattata and discover Horsea and Magikarp down by the water but with our 147 acres and natural landscape you have an increased chance of discovering some rarer individuals too. Find them in the woods, in our prairie restoration sites, and gardens. I haven’t yet made it out to our Skokie campus–but I would be surprised if there weren’t a few Pokéstops there as well given the more urban setting.
Bumblebee and Beedrill
So why would Oakton’s Green Committee devote time and energy to sharing the details of Pokémon Go? Because a big part of being green is getting out and experiencing nature. It involves appreciating the diversity of plants and animals that abound, the variety of ecosystems and environments that are able to provide shelter to wildlife, the trees that generate the air we breathe. Our staff naturalist, grounds crew, facilities, and sustainability staff together with our students in courses like Environmental Science and those in Ecology Club, spend time all year restoring, preserving, and enhancing these beautiful spaces.
Entrance to our butterfly garden (located in the courtyard behind the butterflystatue Pokéstop) and Meowth
When students are consumed by coursework, jobs, homework, relationships, studying, and yes–technology, it can be hard to remember to step outside and appreciate all that is around us. With the introduction of this app, I have seen more students around campus hanging out and being engaged with our natural areas than I have ever observed, outside of a scheduled eco-event. Not only that, but we are engaging in conversations and meaningful experiences.
A recent article in the LATimes stated that a side effect of Pokémon go was the fact that players were discovering real, actual, live animals in their explorations–causing them to ask “what is this??” and birthing the hashtag #Pokeblitz (a play off a common term BioBlitz for species discovery and education events). Here at Oakton, students can go out searching for Rhyhorn and end up discovering white-tailed deer, monarch butterflies, cormorants, gold finches, hummingbirds, and so much more. So in between tossing those Pokéballs, look up and enjoy the spaces around you. There is so much to discover.
Cormorant and Poliwag
And if you are unsure of this whole experience or need some tips, drop a lure and wait for your fellow players to join you in a grassy area. I am sure they will be happy to impart whatever knowledge they have to you. It worked for me!
~~~~~~~~Please keep the following in mind: While we encourage students and community members to visit our campus and explore all there is to see, we ask that you practice caution and awareness. Watch out for motorists, keep your eyes up when crossing streets, obey all posted signs, and please be respectful of our natural areas! Try to use paths and lawn spaces instead of walking through our native and decorative plantings. Finally, you are welcome to walk through the forest preserves and down by the river, but watch out for poison ivy, make sure to do a tick check when you get out, and please take your trash with you to dispose of properly!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~