Outdoor Insider Fall 2015 - Page 23

Michael Liang Visual Information Specialist, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area National Park Service Summit Series Session: Redesigning National Parks for Future Generations Michael is an advocate in the National Park Service for increasing digital and visual literacy—two skills crucial for connecting with 21st century audiences. With a fine arts degree and an environmental science background, he has worked as an interpreter and visual information specialist, developing publications, multimedia projects, and web and social media campaigns. He is passionate about using design and digital tools to make national parks more relevant to visitors, especially online platforms that allow visitors to share their experiences. When he is not designing creative media, Michael can be found cooking, drawing in the studio, running on park trails, or driving off on weekend road trips and camping adventures. “Aha” career moment: Although I grew up Michigan, I spent my teenage years fantasizing about living in the mountains out west. During my first summer in college, I interned with the Student Conservation Association at North Cascades National Park. That summer of exploring backcountry trails, working with the public, and living on the edge of a glacier-fed lake was an affirmation of my teenage suspicions--that whatever I ended up doing after college needed to be related to the outdoors. It’s where I find my inspiration and respite. Dr. Eric Frauman Associate Professor in Recreation Management, Appalachian State University Summit Series session: Outdoor Programs: Your Message Positioned in Evidence-Based Knowledge Dr. Eric Frauman has been involved with AORE on and off since its inception. He helped co-found the AORE Research Symposium as well as the Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education, and Leadership (JOREL). He currently serves as the co-chair of the AORE Environmental Stewardship Committee. Eric’s primary research and personal interests lie at the crossroads between outdoor recreation and natural resource management--how humans fit into the land and waterscapes they use. Formative outdoor experience: When I was in elementary school, I participated in an environmental day camp at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, where my uncle was a ranger. We followed the scientists as they performed fieldwork. Only later did I realize that what I thought was fun—canoeing, turning over rocks and logs, bouncing on bogs—was what people did for a living. Those experiences planted a seed that I’ve been nourishing ever since. Another formative experience was finding my gay community of outdoor enthusiasts when I moved to Seattle. I finally had like-minded peers to spend every weekend camping and hiking with. Although I’ve since moved away, they continue to be some of my best friends, and I try to find or create that same community wherever I go. Recent high point: An exploration of southern Utah this spring. Nine of my friends and I spent a week canyoneering in Zion, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Glen Canyon. Despite my prior experiences, this was the first time squeezing myself through narrow slot canyons or following a riverbed for miles. I loved being unplugged for that week and pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. Favorite place on Earth: The Pacific Northwest. Every time I return, it feels like home. It was the first place I lived after college, and it was love at first sight. Favorite indoor place: Art studios, or any creative workshop. These are places of possibility, of ideas not yet realized or put into form. There’s something about these spaces that just fosters creativity and collaboration, two things I value and pursue in my life. Best book read recently: Rain: A Natural and Cultural History, by Cynthia Barnett “Aha” career moment: I secured a graduate assistantship working for the college outdoor program office at the University of Florida. I was working on a master’s degree in College Student Development, thinking I would one day work in student affairs, but got the job with the outdoor program, and... Formative outdoor experience: Having the opportunity to go to a summer camp in the North Carolina mountains as a young teen opened my eyes to the natural world in a way that changed me forever. When outdoors, away from the pace and hum of civilization, where I can “just be,” I am at peace. Best book read recently: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, by Naomi Klein Special skill: I am a pretty accomplished Ultimate Frisbee player, fortunate to have played on some great national-caliber teams that allowed me to travel extensively throughout the United States. aore.org | nationaloffice@aore.org 23