Outdoor Insider Fall 2017 - Page 21

get other people interested as well.

At Acadia National Park, Friends of Acadia partnered with the park to explore how youth might use technology to engage with nature. They created the Acadia Youth Technology Team—they hired teenagers and college-age leaders, who researched potential projects and then requested iPads, apps, and other digital tools to find ways to use technology to improve the visitor experience.

One success story is a digital media interpretive kit that allows visitors to watch peregrine falcons from afar, said Paige Steele, Friends of Acadia’s conservation projects manager. The falcons sit on distant cliffs, where they are camouflaged, so it was difficult for visitors to spot them using a telescope, which they had to wait in line to use. The tech team built an alternative: a kit that displays a live feed, using high-magnification telephoto equipment donated by Canon, on a monitor, so that 40 people can see the falcons at once. This way, “everyone gets to experience the falcons,” Steele said.

Another project did not fare as well. The team tried an iPad lab, which used interpretive programming, but park visitors didn’t enjoy it, in part because not all of them could see the iPad at the same time. “It was not adding value to the visitor experience,” Steele said. She added that being able to test the technology for a particular site is helpful, because one size does not fit all. “Sometimes technology really adds to the visitor experience, and sometimes it can really take away

from it.”

It’s important “to have options for people to engage with nature, especially youth,” Steele said. “We want to inspire—to spark awe and create Acadia’s next generation of stewards.” She said an app that educates visitors on the history of Acadia as they stand in that historical spot has the power to reach people. It allows for “really powerful storytelling, connecting visitors to a place that they will hopefully protect.”

People may gravitate either toward or away from technology, but parks and group leaders can provide both, Steele said. The Leave No Trace principles include being considerate of other visitors, she said. So if someone’s using an app in the woods, make sure they don’t play it loudly—ask them to use headphones.

Furman noted, “I think the crux is being able to use the technology that we find appropriate without impacting other users’ experiences. And in some cases, that means keeping the technology stowed out of sight and earshot from the other people in your party or other hikers, climbers, skiers, etc.”

“Respect other visitors’ experience,” Steele said. That way, the no-tech and hi-tech visitors can coexist.

alternative—a kit that displays a live feed, using high-magnification telephoto equipment donated by Canon, on a monitor, so that 40 people can see them at once. This way, “everyone gets to experience the falcons,” Steele said.

Another project did not fare as well. The team tried an ipad lab, which used interpretive programming, but park visitors didn’t enjoy it, in part because not all of them could see the ipad at once. “It was not adding value to the visitor experience,” Steele said. She added that being able to test the technology for a particular site is helpful, because one size does not fit all. “Sometimes technology really adds to the visitor experience, and sometimes it can really take away from it.”

It’s important “to have options for people to engage with nature, especially youth,” Steele said. “We want to inspire—to spark awe and create Acadia’s next generation of stewards.” She said an app that educates visitors on the history of Acadia as they stand in that historical spot has the power to reach people. It allows for “really powerful storytelling, connecting visitors to a place that they will hopefully protect.”

People may gravitate either toward or away from technology, but parks and group leaders can provide both, Steele said. The Leave No Trace principles include being considerate of other visitors, she said. So if someone’s using an app in the woods, make sure they don’t play it loudly—ask them to use headphones.

Furman noted, “I think the crux is being able to use the technology that we find appropriate without impacting other users’ experiences. And in some cases, that means keeping the technology stowed out of sight and earshot from the other people in your party or other hikers, climbers, skiers, etc.”

“Respect other visitors’ experience,” Steele said. That way, the no-tech and hi-tech visitors can coexist.

—Allison Torres Burtka