Internship Journal: Week Ten

This week has been a productive and exciting week. I was happy to receive an email from the two women who attended my tour of the battlefield last Sunday. These two visitors had a great time and sent a complimentary email to my supervisors. In part it read, “If Kyle is an indicator of the future of the NPS, it is in good hands.” It is always nice to see that your interpretative methods have paid off and visitors have enjoyed their experience.

Also, during my time at the park, I found out that I will be conducting some special programming come this June. The Little Bighorn Association is a conglomerate of George Custer aficionados. This group of people, from across the country travel to Custer associated sites each year for three days. This year, they are traveling to the Shenandoah Valley from June 13th-June 15th. The group will be visiting our park on June 13th for a tour of the battlefield focusing specifically on George Custer’s role. The park’s Chief of Interpretation asked if I would do some of these tours, and I said of course. I will be giving two three hour tours of the battlefield with an emphasis on Custer. Custer did not have a huge role during the battle, but nevertheless he and his Wolverines were here. So, I will have to brush up on my knowledge of George Custer at Cedar Creek to prepare for these two tours.

On Saturday, June 15th, the group will also be holding a seminar, with various speakers lecturing on the War in the Valley in 1864. These include the Civil War Trust’s Gary Adelman, and now myself. I will be giving about a 45 minute lecture on Custer’s role at Cedar Creek and the aftermath. I have emailed the man who leads the group for some more specifics on the lecture. I have never given a lecture before. This will be a learning experience for me, but, I am excited for this great opportunity.

During my time this week, I also completed a rough draft of my outline for my program on July 24th. It is not complete yet. There are some questions I need to answer and double check, as well as to include my stops and transitions to each stop. This will become easier once I visit the battlefield on April 14th. Also, to incorporate some of my skills learned in my history methods class (HIST 395) I included an annotated bibliography as well.

Unfortunately, the weather this weekend has inhibited outdoor programs. I did not have anyone attend my program on Saturday. But, I was able to get on the Park’s Facebook page and experiment with digital interpretation.  One of the most effective ways to reach visitors outside the area is through social media, especially Facebook. During the years the interpretative staff as experimented in ways to engage the public in dialogue, get information out regarding upcoming programs and events and even try to crowd source information.  We are always trying to keep up and try something new. So, that is what I decided to do. Seeing the success of an image on the Manassas National Battlefield Facebook’s page, they inserted a Civil War era picture into a modern picture. To emulate their success I experimented with two photographs and historic images.

The first image is that of the Lockwood House at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. This was Sheridan’s headquarters in August 1864 before his fall campaign.

The Lockwood House with historical sketch

The Lockwood House with historical sketch

I found a picture of it on my phone after visiting there last year. Then I found the same house sketched out by James Taylor through the Library of Congress website. Not knowing how to meld the pictures, I fooled around in Powerpoint. I added the modern picture, then the historic picture. Cropped the historic picture and softened its edges and attempted to place the picture over the modern picture from the same perspective. And it worked! The next day, Saturday, I decided to do the same thing with a modern picture of Belle Grove Plantation a historic picture of veterans visiting in 1883.

Modern day picture of Belle Grove with a 1883 photograph overlapping

Modern day picture of Belle Grove with a 1883 photograph overlapping

It was a hugely successful post. We received over 80 likes (which is a lot for our page) and numerous comments. Hopefully in the future, I will be able to continue this by inserting old images on the current landscapes. Check out our park’s page here.

I also have been experimenting in ways to promote our programs through images on our park page. Using the model seen on Gettysburg National Military Park Facebooks’s page, I built this. Hopefully come summer we can use this model to promote special and everyday programs.

Sample online program promotion image

Sample online program promotion image

This has been an exciting and busy week. It has really gotten me fired up for the upcoming summer season and all the special events and programs we have scheduled.

Hours this week: 16

Total hours completed:  100

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