Social media

A “Rockin” New Trend

Have you heard of this hip new trend of … painting rocks? It’s true! There are grassroots groups forming all over the country based around the simple activity of rock painting. Well, there’s a little more to it than that. It’s really about connecting with other people by sharing little mementos of positive thoughts expressed through painted rocks.

What people do is paint rocks with some kind of positive message, image, or anything they think might brighten someone else’s day, and then leave their rock in a random location for someone to find. They often leave some kind of information on the back, like a facebook group that the finder can contact, or another means of linking up with the rock painting community. And they also look for these rocks, sort of like a never-ending scavenger hunt, and report any findings to their group.


This movement grew out of an organization called The Kindness Rocks Project, whose stated goal is “to encourage others to find cool creative ways to reach out and brighten someone’s day unexpectedly.” You can find out more at their website: The Kindness Rocks Project. Additionally, if you search, you will probably discover many local groups associated with the project. Almost every county around my area seems to have one, and they share their painted rock pursuits through their group facebook pages.

What does this have to do with interpretation? Well, I think this trend offers a great opportunity for programming at many of our centers. Whether we do something simple like incorporating a rock-painting craft into a program, or something more involved where participants paint rocks and go for a hike to hide them, or whatever — it seems like something to consider tapping into. Personally, I think I’m going to try hosting a Rock Painting Party!

It’s simple, outdoor, nature-based fun, and a lot of people seem to be into it right now. And, there are existing online groups that we can communicate with and work with who might be excited to visit our site to pursue their hobby.

Anyway, this is just a very small thought for the blog this time. Nothing super deep or big. Just something I’ve come across and thought was really neat and wanted to share. Have a great rest of the summer everyone!


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It’s Dangerous to Go Alone. Take This (Awesome Map of Region 3 Interpretive Sites)!

You have to admit that the Sunny Southeast is a pretty amazing region. We’ve got everything from lemurs to fortresses, beaches to museums, lakes, rivers, mountains, and nature centers galore…all waiting for the intrepid explorer (you!) to visit them. To assist you on your journey, we have have been building a member map on the Region 3 website to show you the exciting details of the who, what, when, and where of your colleagues’ sites. One of the many benefits of an NAI membership offers is a strong community, and we want to keep growing that community beyond the conferences (like our annual workshop being held this very week in Atlanta!) and other special events.
Perky and map
Last year we sent out a short survey that gave members the opportunity to participate in the creation of this resource map, and we now have about fifteen sites up on the map. That’s a great start, but we can do so much better! This is a purely voluntary map that, aside from some required basics, can include as much or as little as you’d like about your site, business, program, etc. (it isn’t required that you have a physical site to participate). The map is a great tool to use for exploring the area, learn about members’ upcoming events, find volunteer or job opportunities, or even contact another member who may be doing similar work and could help you brainstorm some ideas to make your program or exhibits even better.

To all of our wonderful members who jumped into the pool first: thank you! We couldn’t have gotten this community project off the ground without your enthusiastic support and participation.

If you’d like to be a part of this resource and open your doors to new friends and allies, follow this link to our short and sweet survey page:

You can find the map under the “Contact Us” tab on top of the intro page on our regional website: (, or go directly to

*There may be some formatting glitches in certain browsers, and we’re still working on the best way to incorporate photos into the mapping process. If tech-savvy people would like to volunteer to help out with this project, please drop us a line at*

Categories: General, Jobs / Professional Development, Regional Workshop, Social media | Leave a comment

Do you tweet?

Twitter has roughly a billion registered users, and 255 million monthly active users worldwide, according to the website Digital Marketing Ramblings.  The site also reveals that Americans who use Twitter are mostly younger folks (think teens-twenties). I personally stayed away from Twitter for a long time just because the format of the site confused and intimidated me – why limit the number of characters? What kind of content am I supposed to post? What exactly is a “hashtag”?

Cindy Carpenter began to answer that last question in her recent blog post about Instagram (which is kind of like Twitter, with pictures) but just as a refresher, here are some Twitter definitions for you, excerpted from an article at

Follower – On Twitter, you “follow” another user to see his or her updates on your Twitter home page, and they follow you to see yours. This is the basic social relationship of Twitter. If you have more followers, your updates reach and potentially influence more people. Social connections on Twitter are not symmetrical — that is, even if you follow someone he or she may choose not to follow you back.

Tweet – Each message you send out to your followers through Twitter is called a “tweet.” It works as a verb, as well; you tweet a message. Twitter is one big network for delivering tweets to people, and by fault, tweets are public and searchable. Each tweet must be 140 characters or less or else it won’t be published.

Retweet – Twitter is all about sharing things that your followers might find useful, interesting, or entertaining. The “retweet” is a manifestation of this. When you see a tweet that you think your followers would be interested in, you can click the “retweet” button to make that tweet appear in your followers’ home pages. They’ll know you were the one who shared it.

Hashtag – People on Twitter insert “hashtags” into their tweets to provide context, and to make them easily searchable for people looking for updates on a specific topic. They’re kind of like blog tags. A hashtag is simply a keyword preceded by the hash symbol.

@Mention – You direct public messages to other Twitter users by inserting an “@” sign immediately followed by their username. For example, “@SproutSocial Hi there.” This causes your tweet to also appear in the “@Mentions” section of the target’s Twitter account.

Twitter bird logo

Tweet! Tweet!

Once I learned the basics, I confess, I was hooked. Twitter is a great way to get lots of news and updates in one place about things you’re interested in, and it’s one more way to let people who’ve visited your interpretive site – or are interested in visiting one day – stay engaged and find out what’s new. Hundreds, of national parks, state parks, forests, historic sites, county parks and museums have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon.

On Friday there is usually a flood of Tweets from interpreters and environmental educators using the hashtag #fieldnotesfriday! The NAI National Office is behind it all. By searching for this catch phrase, you can find plenty of creative content sharing, and by adding the phrase to your own Tweet you can join in the chorus! With only 140 characters to work with, Twitter forces us to pack our interpretive subjects and themes densely into each phrase and picture – or at least pique the interest enough to lead readers to a longer blog post on the subject. Here are a few of my favorites from recent Fridays:

‏@commnatural: What’s the likelihood of seeing this animal in the city? #urbanwildlife reminder to look up! #fieldnotesfriday

@andy2pham: A #woodpecker’s tongue is curled around the back of the head between the skull and skin. #FieldNotesFriday #birds

@HappyNaturalist: Rare subspecies of human caught in the wild (Photographensis in its natural habitat) #photography #FieldNotesFriday

Do you Tweet? Please share your experiences in the “Twittersphere,” too!

Categories: Social media | 1 Comment

Interpreting with Instagram?

Cindy Carpenter

I’m surprised at myself. After resisting for years, I have entered the world of social media. This happened just after I entered the world of smartphones in January. This non-digital-native figured it was about time I experienced firsthand what today’s media is about, and I am happy I did. I am having fun combining my love for photography (and my awesome phone camera) with sharing my passion for natural and cultural heritage through Instagram. Some of you may be there, too.

I first learned about Instagram during a new media session by Ken Mayes at the 2012 RIW. Last summer I queried my 27 year old niece about it as she snapped photos and posted them. This past February at the RIW in Alabama I jumped in, posting a photo of a fern and mushroom growing on a tree on the WAU campus. You can imagine my excitement when I received my first “like,” this from one of my two followers at the time, my 11 year old niece.

When I saw her in March she gave me a tutorial on hashtags, and a world opened up. I was hooked.

Bird day warbler neck Instagram photo

The Instagram description for this Bird Day at the Cradle of Forestry photo reads “Birding is fun, even with warbler neck. #cradleofforestry #internationalmigratorybirdday #birding.”

I started my campaign to contribute to substance on Instagram after seeing a lovely photograph my cosmopolitan elder niece posted of an Anthropologie store window awash in blue light being decorated with bright orange and yellow butterflies. Knowing she has over 500 followers as opposed to my 10, I commented, “Lovely! Imagine seeing it in nature.” and hashtagged “make way for monarchs.” A search of the slogan brought up a photo from a California museum’s monarch waystation and an organization that promotes gardening and conservation to children. It was on from there.

Since then, through Instagram, I have discovered individuals and organizations engaged in the beauty and wonder of the global natural world, the enjoyment of public lands, museums and gardens, and in conservation efforts. I see how people are enjoying special moments in time and special places, including my interpretive site. I connect with my young loved ones I live far away from through images of what impresses them and learn also about their audiences. The words on Instagram are few, but the photos are worth thousands. I hope those who find my posts and the exploration opportunities I present will find some meaning and inspiration. Maybe you’ll find some, too.

Categories: Interpretation tools, Social media | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Blogging: A Region 3 dialogue all year round

You’ve attended regional and national workshops, perhaps presented a session or two, learned from fellow interpreters at CIG trainings, studied in an academic setting, led collaborative programs with your colleagues. The moments when we come together to develop our skills and bond with other interpreters are valuable, but sometimes few and far between. If any of these statements resonate with you, consider becoming a contributor to the NAI Region 3 blog to continue to share and learn throughout the year!

To sign up as a contributor for 2014-2015, email the webmaster, Katie Hicks (that’s me!)

To blog or not to blog?

Cartoon courtesy of

Here are some frequently asked questions:

What is the time commitment required to contribute to the blog? Bloggers contribute a post about 2-3 times a year. Posts can vary in length, but they’re usually pretty short. You will have the schedule far in advance, and can write and upload your post in advance, too.

What would I write about? We want to emphasize content that will help, inform, guide or amuse other interpreters who read this blog. In other words, the sky’s the limit…what would YOU like to see here? Write in your own voice. Some sample types of blog posts might include reviews of resources, promotions of upcoming events, multimedia such as videos or music (it doesn’t have to just be text), personal stories or successes.

Do I need to be tech-savvy? No! WordPress (the blogging platform) is pretty user friendly, and we can walk you through the process of writing and uploading your post. I’m always available to help troubleshoot if you get lost.

What are the benefits of blogging for Region 3? Communicate with your fellow members more often. Share your own knowledge and stories. Help us make this site as useful as it can be as a place for deeper connections and dialogue throughout the year.

I hope to hear from you! Please get in touch by March 28 if you’d like to be on the schedule this year.

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