I've been incredibly lucky to work with many amazing people, organizations, and projects over the years. Explore the case studies below to see how I have used digital storytelling to help communicate and investigate ideas, define missions, and help visitors understand and explore the important work being done by these groups.
The Biodiversity Institute's mission "to foster the understanding, appreciation and conservation of biological diversity through innovative research, education, and outreach, by engaging a broad audience in the scientific process," meant the Institute told a story of discovery and the natural world to a broad audience everyday, from kindergarden through retirement, from rancher to physicist.
Working hands on with scientists, resource managers, educators, and the public, the Biodiversity Institute worked to further the understanding and conservation of biodiversity; facilitating collaborative research projects, synthesizing and disseminating research, distributing grants, and providing real, educational, outreach, and citizen science programs for students and the public.
My role with the Institute was as Digital & Social Media Communications Director and required digital storytelling in a broad sense - and several examples of the kinds of projects I did follow, but a core responsiblity was managing all aspects of the Biodiverity Institute website.
The Biodiversity Institute website used storytelling, illustration, video, audio podcasts, blogs, maps,background images, and a variety of interactive tools, to:
As the Biodiversity Insitute's Digital & Social Media Communications Director I managed the creation and maintainace of the site - including content creation, video, and audio prodution.
Please visit the site, and explore. The Biodiversity Institute is keeping the site live and available as an archive of the Insitute's work.
*The Biodiversity Institute is set to be closed by the University of Wyoming due to lack of funding at the end of the year 2018.
A glimpse into the private lives of wild animals is a rare delight, and tells an intimate story in real time of events normally entirely hidden from our view. However, new cameras, solar power, and new data transmission technologies, have made the behaviour of wildlife more accessible. The lifecycles of breeding raptors, for example, can be made visible by filming nest sites where young are raised. Video recordings provide data for the scientific investigation of nesting behaviour, prey species relationships and the survival of nestlings – information that is important for raptor conservation. Further, raptor nest video is a charismatic means to inform and engage citizens, scientists and land managers interested in the natural diversity of Wyoming.
In 2017 I spearheded a Biodiversity Institute initiative to publicly stream footage of raptor nests in Wyoming. This initiative intended to promote the conservation of these captivating species in Wyoming and beyond, while simultaneously generating valuable data for the scientific community.
We started the camera on 4 eggs laid late in April, all four eggs hatched on May 2nd and 3rd. The chickes nested, eating (A LOT) and growing until July 2nd when the first chick fledged. By the end of that week the nest was empty except for occasional visits and at night when one or more of the chicks would return to sleep.
All in all this video stream was watched for a collective 152,195 minutes by more than 4,000 thousand viewers.
Working with wildlife researchers at the University of Wyoming and cartographers at the University of Oregon, I directed and edited "Wyoming’s Big Game Migrations and 50 Years of Wilderness", detailing how elk, mule deer, moose, bighorn sheep and pronghorn all use Wyoming and Colorado wilderness areas and documenting the first time that these migration corridors have been mapped to specifically see how animals use wilderness areas.
“We have known for years that undeveloped habitat is crucial for the West’s iconic big game species, but this new compilation of data shows in detail the extent to which these animals migrate through habitats designated as wilderness,” says Matthew Kauffman, a UW professor who produced the short-form documentary. “As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, this information illustrates the benefits of those actions taken five decades ago for these important wildlife species and the migration corridors they depend on today.”
The film was produced for National Geographics Short Film Showcase, and has been used widely as content for a variety of news stories and science websites.
Related: National Geographic: 9/6/2018
Sheep Teach Each Other How to Migrate Long Distances
Bighorn sheep migrate on long journeys, following a wave of green as plants come to life. Instinct doesn't teach this, but culture does.
Video included as part of article.
The Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center serves as a focal point for the study, documentation and conservation of biodiversity, from spatial and temporal variations in ecosystems to the invisible variations within single genes. The Center supports the education and research of UW undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff in the related fields of ecology, genetics, population biology, systematics and molecular biology, and was home to the Biodiversity Institute.
The Center, was created in part as a public museum and was a hub for public scientific ourtreach done by the Biodiversity Institute. The Centers muesum facilties included a variety of displays and depictions of biodiversity in Wyoming and beyond. These museum style displays include exhibits on the history of life, the geographic ecologies of the state, lichen, eukaryotes, and an interactive tree of life, all in all, dozens of interactive touchscreen displays and photographic exhibits, all depicting the creatures and ecologies of the state of Wyoming.
As Director of Digital & Social Media Communications, I was responsible for developing content and maintaining these interative elements throughout the building.
Building these displays was one of my favorite parts of the work I did with the Institute. Both because the research invloved was fastinating, and the resources available rich; but also because it provided me a unique opportunity to regularly interact with the users of these tools - the public, who frequented the building daily. This experieince gave me an unusal insight into the way interactive storytelling is used in a museum like setting, and into the content that users found most engaging.
In Early 2008 I was approached by James Balog to build and managed a map enabled website, an interactive companion site to "Extreme Ice Survey" a NOVA / National Geographic documentary, which ulitmately aired on March 24th, 2009, and again on December 18, 2013 on PBS. The Documentary followed photojournalist James Balog to some of the most remote and beautiful places on Earth as he documented the ongoing disappearance of an icy landscape that took thousands of years to form. An artist, scientist, explorer, and former mountain guide, Balog braved treacherous terrain to site his cameras in ideal locations to record the unfolding drama.
The site created detailed maps, locating remarkable time-lapse footage of massive glaciers and ice sheets splitting apart, collapsing, and disappearing at a rate that has scientists deeply alarmed. This NOVA-National Geographic Television special investigated the latest evidence of a radically warming planet.
Balog's long-term photography program integrates art and science to give a “visual voice” to the planet’s changing ecosystems. Baylog believes that the creative integration of art and science can shape public perception and inspire action more effectively than either art or science can do alone. The Extreme Ice Survey project is strong testament to his idea.
The original companion site has since been retired, but I have included links to the documentary, and the films permanent website which shares much of it's information, look, feel, and content with the companion site.
In September, 2007, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and Wildlife Conservation Society conservationist Michael Fay turned his attention to a unique North American ecosystem. On a yearlong, 1,800-mile (2,900-kilometer) hike through California’s redwood forests, Fay collected data and documented the state of the forest, helping to call attention to this one-of-a-kind ecosystem. The Redwood Transectwas supported by the National Geographic Society, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Save-the-Redwoods League.
Among the oldest and tallest trees on Earth, California redwoods often exceed 300 feet (90 meters) in height and can reach diameters of 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters) or more. Some of these trees are more than 1,500 years old.
The Redwoods Transect began on September 3, 2007, and took about one year.
Following the model of his Megatransect, a 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) conservation trek through Africa’s Congo Basin, Fay walked a transect from the southernmost redwood tree known to exist today to the northernmost tree, a distance of some 460 miles (740 kilometers). Along the way, Fay and independent researcher Lindsey Holm collected data critical to understanding the ecology and history of the redwood forest.
I created a unique blog and tracking system using Google Maps from to track the Journey and acted as "blog master" updating the blog daily with phone and email reports that came in from Mike and Lindsey, taking GPS data and mapping images, video and other elements that came from the field each evening. This project and the Gombe Chimpanzee blog, would later set the basis for FieldBlogger - an open source storytelling software package I have been working on for the last several years.
I started working with the Jane Goodall Institute in first weeks of 2002 running the Insitutes website, and assisting with IT needs in the main office. The Institutes website focused on Jane Goodall's story and the continued work of Jane, and the dedicated staff and reseachers both in the United States main office and in Tanzania, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
in 2006 when Google introduced Google Maps, and Google Earth - I was fascinated and quickly learned that the storytelling possibilities offered by these tools were virtually limitless. While working in DC and living on a boat, I developed a rudimentary "geo-blogging" platform using Google maps, and Google Earth to track weekend boating trips on the Potomac river. Soon after, with a little work and coordination, I launched the Gombe Chimpanzee blog using the same toolset. The new blog allowing researchers in Gombe, Tanzania to document their work with Jane's famous chimps, bringing the institute’s donors into the forest in a whole new way, and attracting the attention of Google Earth, and Google’s new Earth outreach program.
The Gombe Chimpanzee Blog, like the National Geographic Redwood Transect Blog, used blogging, and in-page maps to track and document the work of researchers who continue to study chimpanzee behavior, genetics, and other factors in Gombe National Park, in Tanzania, home of Jane Goodall's original research in the 1970's.
The Eyak Preservation Councils mission is to honor Eyak Heritage and to conserve wild salmon culture and habitat through education, awareness and the promotion of sustainable lifeways for all peoples.
The Eyak Preservation Council (EPC), Based in Cordova, Alaska, is a 501c3 grassroots environmental and social change organization dedicated to promoting sustainable communities and protecting and preserving wild salmon habitat and Indigenous culture in the ancestral Eyak homelands of the Prince William Sound and Copper River watersheds.
EPC was conceived on the day of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. That disastrous event turned Eyak founder, Dune Lankard, from a commercial fisherman into a life-long community activist. EPC thereby was formed and dedicated to not only preserving the wild salmon way-of-life and Native Culture, but to turning the Exxon disaster into a precedent setting opportunity for conservation. In 1995, EPC protected 765,000 acres of ancestral rainforests from the clear-cutting efforts of regional Native Corporations in the Exxon spillzone.