Staff Spotlight: Nicole Patterson

Meet Nicole Patterson

Nicole Patterson has been employed with the Maryland-National Captial Park and Planning Commission since the year 2000. She began her career as a Park Ranger. After serving as a Park Ranger for approximately four years, in 2004, Nicole accepted a position as the Nature Facility and Program Manager at Watkins Nature Center. Nicole is a graduate of the University of Maryland College, located in College Park, Maryland. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources Management, with an emphasis on Land and Water Resource Management. 

MNCPPC staff Nicole Patterson smiling and wearing a red shirt in front of a wooded background.

Organic Innovation in Action

"Agents of Discovery" Mobile Application was researched, purchased, implemented and currently maintained by Nicole. "Agents of Discovery" is an educational mobile gaming platform that uses augmented reality to get youth active and outdoors exploring. As educators, Nicole recognizes we are empowered to turn the whole world into an engaging, fun, and safe learning environment. She uses the application's online platform, the Mission Maker, to design her own games throughout Watkins Regional Park. Missions are free to play and, once downloaded, do not require WiFi or a data connection. Thus far, she has seen over 2,200 mission users!

This past summer, Nicole collaborated with several local parks in the DMV area and competed in the "Agents of Discovery DMV Explorer Campaign." Watkins worked with 11 other host sites such as the NASA Goddard Visitor Center, Potomac Overlook Regional Park, the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials, and the U.S. National Arboretum to help cross-market and increase visitors. Nicole is proud to say that Watkins Regional Park led the pack all summer with over 600 users of the app. 

The inspiration for "Agents of Discovery" was brought to Nicole's attention by her leadership team who thought it might be a good idea in one of our parks. Nicole researched the app and organizations already involved. After talking with many sites, mainly parks in California and Canada, Nicole thought it might help to engage families who visit us outside of our regularly staffed hours. This offered a way for families to have fun and learn outside in a more informal way. 

By using "Agents of Discovery" we are able to receive valuable metrics on our visitorship as well as creating a new way to entertain and educate visitors. It encourages healthy and active lifestyles through a move-to-learn gaming style that elevates our visitors' experience with interactive, interpretive games.