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Take It Outside campaign takes Will County by storm


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No one likes going on a wild goose chase — unless that goose chase has you visiting Will County preserves in all seasons to learn more about nature and the natural world and also what the Forest Preserve has to offer.  


In that case, a goose chase is a yearlong adventure, and it’s just the adventure hundreds of people embarked on in 2023 through the Forest Preserve’s Take It Outside challenge, made possible thanks to a donation provided by The Nature Foundation of Will County.  


Through the Take It Outside challenge, participants used the Goosechase app to take part in a scavenger hunt with hundreds of missions, including GPS check-ins in the preserves, photo challenges and trivia questions. New missions were released weekly to keep people motivated. 


The challenge was the largest marketing initiative the District had ever undertaken. The overarching goal was to get more people out into more preserves experiencing them in more ways, said the head of digital strategy/engagement Chad Merda, who oversaw the marketing initiative.  


“The goal was to have the campaign raise awareness for everything we do,” he said. 


Secondary to that was getting people outside of their comfort zone to preserves and spots in the county they aren’t familiar with.


“We know a lot of people tend to use the preserves right around their house, but this got them to travel the entire county and see the full scope of what we have,” he said. 





As the year went on, the number of points people accumulated grew higher and higher. When the challenge ended Dec. 31, a dozen people were tied for first place — all 12 having completed 501 missions while racking up 13,086 points. 


The response to the challenge was greater than anticipated. In all, more than 1,000 people participated in the challenge, completing more than 100,000 missions, making it the Goosechase platform’s largest ever user experience.  


“We definitely raised awareness, and we know that we changed habits,” Merda said. “People shared their stories with us throughout the year, and we heard from people who were more healthy, who could hike more and who discovered all these new places.” 


The Nature Foundation of Will County’s $7,500 donation to the Take It Outside challenge funded the Goosechase subscription as well as digital promotion for the yearlong campaign.  


“The advertising dollars allowed us to promote it on channels we wouldn’t normally have advertised on to reach a wider audience,” Merda said.   


Tara Neff, the executive director of the Nature Foundation of Will County, said the objectives of the Take It Outside campaign dovetail nicely with the Foundation’s dedication to protect nature, inspire discovery and bring people and nature together. 


“Take It Outside is really connecting people to nature, and that’s one of our priorities,” she said.  


The fun continues in 2024, with four seasonal challenges similar in nature to the 2023 adventure, albeit shorter in duration. The Foundation’s support continues as well, with a $13,500 donation in support of the interactive initiative. In addition to covering the cost of the Goosechase subscription, the Foundation’s support will fund digital promotion as well as prizes for participants.


 

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