Environmental Geography Course Project Report: COVID-19 Responses

Local Parks Finding New Ways to Reach the Public During COVID-19 Pandemic

Callie Wildenthaler

Project Summary:

            This semester we have experienced a transition into a new way of life due to the imposing threats of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this unprecedented and unpredictable time, businesses and organizations around the world are devising new ways to continue to interact with customers and the public. For this Environmental Geography project, I reached out to local nature park districts to see how they, as an organization, are handling the pandemic in their own ways. In addition, I was interested in learning about how they have planned to continue to achieve their overall goals of interacting with and educating the public throughout this time of social distancing. I conducted short email interviews with Jill Snyder, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, and Abby Ditomassi, Crawford Park District, to see how their positions within the park districts have been adjusted and what actions the parks are taking to reach the public from a distance. Overall, I found that regardless of size, Park Districts are generally adopting the same form of interacting with the public through social media, mainly Facebook, and offering daily activities for people to do on their own. However, I did find some areas in which the parks adopted different methods and I feel that this is related to the size of the audience each park reaches and their ability to interact with certain capacities at a time.

Recommendations:

With the current state of the world, it is more important now than ever before to continue to promote the environment and conservation efforts. The COVID-19 Pandemic, a difficult time for individuals around the world, has also offered us an amazing opportunity to experience nature- whether it is at a Park District or in our own backyard. Take this opportunity to continue to interact with the environment surrounding us through the new outreach opportunities being offered from your local park district.

Contacts:

Jill Snyder, Assistant Manager Interpretation & Education, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks – snyder@metroparks.net

Abby Ditomassi, Park Naturalist, Crawford Park District – aditomassi@crawfordpd.org

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