Smart trails could pave way for more learning in Crawford Co. - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Smart trails could pave the way for more learning in Crawford County

Crawford County will have QR codes set up along its bike and walking trails. Crawford County will have QR codes set up along its bike and walking trails.

Being outdoors is nothing new for Kelly Sonnichsen. During her years as a naturalist, she's spent plenty of time along trails.

Over the winter, Crawford County applied for, and received, a $4,600 endowment grant from the county to put in place a "smart trail" system. These trails use QR readers, or high-tech scanners on a smart phone or electronic reader, to show information about different things along the route. It'll be Sonnichsen's job to upload the videos for each of those codes over the next few months, but it could make her workload a little easier down the road.

"They will go out on the trail, and I won't have to be there interpreting," said Sonnichsen, a naturalist for the Crawford County Conservation Board.

As technology changes in the classroom, Sonnichsen says the county is trying to keep pace.

"I think it's neat because it's going to engage a whole new audience, and it's getting people out, getting them physical and getting some exercise out on the trail," said Sonnichsen.

By the fall, Crawford County hopes to have the system in place, so that when people go along these trails, or notice other objects like bridges or birdhouses, they'll be able to use their QR readers to learn more about them.

"The cool thing about this, is you can track it, how many hits per day or how many people are out on the trail, using your QR code system," said Sonnichsen.

Sonnichsen says that will allow the conservation board to change the course and codes with the seasons.

"It's going to be different information all the time, and you won't have to spend $3,000 on a sign that's going to be there for 10 years," said Sonnichsen.

And those changes, she says, can help make everyone who walks the trails a little healthier and a little smarter, too.

Harrison County put a similar "smart code" system in place last year, which served as the basis for Crawford County's plan.

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