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The challenge to today’s parents and educators in today’s digital connected world is to get  kids outside. We at EECSD recognize the value of No-G, No Service time (otherwise known as leaving your phone at home). But we realize that an intermediary approach is necessary, especially for those older students who no longer go outside to play. (Note to students: you will miss this when you are older.)

We invite students in 8th grade and above to post their pictures of the outdoors on Twitter or Instagram, tagging them with #sdeco, short for South Dakota Ecosystems or South Dakota Ecology.  Younger students can share their pictures through their parents’ or classrooms’ accounts.

As with most things there are guidelines:

1. Post pictures of the outdoors. It can have people in it but you have to have their permission to upload the picture. Keep in mind though, that selfies and snaps of friends is not the point. The outdoors is the point. It doesn’t have to be a scenic vista; anything that captures your attention in nature counts. We provided a list !

2. The pictures must be appropriate for public viewing. What does that mean?
– No drugs or alcohol, please. We are inviting minors to be part of this.
– Everyone is dressed and engaging in behavior you wouldn’t mind your grandmother seeing.
– No personal information like your address or phone number. Disable any automatic geo-tags.

3. Include a label or caption to describe your photo. This helps viewer understand it and you remember what you took a picture of. (Hint: this really does help in memorizing species for an ID test.)

4. Share your best work. We are going to promote #sdeco to the world. And, it goes almost without saying, do your own work. Sure, you could steal a picture off of wikipedia, but what’s the point? If it gets favorited, it’s not like you really earned it.

5. Check in and respond to other #sdeco participants. Favorite the pictures you like the most. The more people who participate, the more fun.

6. Safety first. Yes, a close up of a rattlesnake or black widow spider would be way cool, but it’s a bad idea. In fact, a really bad idea. You don’t want to end up on the Darwin awards.

Questions? Ask here:

Stumped for ideas? How many of these can you get?

  • Bud scale scar.
  • Cottonwood leaf
  • Coniferous needles
  • Cumulus clouds
  • Stratus clouds
  • Cumulonimbus clouds
  • Cottonwood
  • Apple tree
  • Willow
  • Black Hills Spruce
  • Bird
  • Bird track
  • Mammal
  • Sign of mammal (track, midden pile, scat)
  • River
  • Lake
  • Wetland
  • Cattail
  • Flowering plant
  • Poison ivy (careful!)
  • Native grass (tell us which kind)
  • Non-native grass
  • Scenic vista
  • Storm drain outflow
  • Storm drain inflow
  • Garden