the national website of Interpretation Canada

Entry Submission Amisk Trail

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Entry Submission: Interpretation Canada Awards of Excellence
Project name: Amisk Trail
Entrant name: Sherry Dangerfield
Organization: Whiteshell Provincial Park, Manitoba Parks
Category: Non-personal (Trail Site-Based Exhibit)
Contains: Cover letter, project description, interpretive signs, one-page map/brochure, and in-situ photos.

(Note that graphic presentation of the entry submission document has been lost in transfer to web format)

Cover letter:
Interpretation Canada - Awards c/o Kerry Wood Nature Centre 6300-45th Avenue Red Deer AB T4N 3M4 
Dear Awards Committee -
RE: Non-personal Entry – Amisk Trail Site-Based Exhibit 
Thank you for this opportunity to submit a recent project to Interpretation Canada's Awards of Excellence in Interpretation. It is always a valuable opportunity to have peers review projects and provide feedback. We look forward to receiving your evaluation. 
The Amisk Trail project was initiated by Manitoba Parks and Natural Areas, which through an RFP process asked for a contractor to develop an interpretive trail up to the graphic design stage. S. Dangerfield Interpretive Planning was the successful bidder. Working together we developed the theme and messages for the interpretation. S. Dangerfield Interpretive Planning took the project up to the graphic design stage, after which Parks and Natural Areas did the graphic design, manufacturing and installation. The final product was a series of interpretive signs for the trail that we are submitting for review. Appended is a letter from Manitoba Parks and Natural Areas supporting this submission. 
Thank you again for this opportunity. We look forward to hearing your evaluation on what worked and what could be improved. May I also thank you for your time and the effort you make to conduct this program. As a long time member of Interpretation Canada I know that it can be a fun but a time consuming process. 
Sherry Dangerfield

Project Description 

July 30, 2010, Manitoba Conservation issued a Request for Proposals to develop interpretive products for the Amisk Trail on the eastern edge of Brereton Lake in the Whiteshell Provincial Park. This 4.3-kilometre trail is an institution in the park and is very popular but in need of refreshing. At the same time Manitoba Parks and Natural Areas wanted to dedicate a trail to Walter Danyluk, the first Director of Manitoba Parks Branch, who grew up just south of the site. The Amisk Trail interpretation includes a dedication to Walter Danyluk while also exploring the benefits of natural parks to the public. 
Manitoba Conservation provided the following as guidance for the trail interpretation: 
The topics of the trail will center on how one man's land ethic and vision created a system of parks, the benefits of parks to the citizens of Manitoba (including physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually), and should highlight the history of parks in Manitoba. RFP PA-2951-2010/11 
The theme statement, around which all interpretation focuses, is: 
We all benefit from spending time in nature and have visionaries like Aldo Leopold and Walter Danyluk to thank. 
With the theme developed, we began to look for ways to connect the site with the topics and theme. The challenge is always how to tell the story in a flowing format that connects with features on the ground. This was a particularly challenging project given its more philosophical nature and the variety of topics to be covered. The mood needed to be set to encourage visitors to think about how they benefited from parks physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, while also providing history of park development and Walter Danyluk, then connecting it to sites along the trail. 
Six stops were developed with a total of 12 interpretive signs. The majority of stops are on the first half of the trail, with one concluding stop near the end. Each sign includes an aspect of interaction to engage the audience – asking visitors questions or to do or think about something. Tilden's Principles were used throughout, with a healthy focus on "provocation, not instruction". 
In addition to the interpretive signs there is a trailhead sign and one-page pamphlet. The trailhead sign includes a brief introduction, the trail graphic and map with legend. The pamphlet is one page with an introduction to the theme, things to look for along the trail, a map and where to find out more information, including on the quotes used on the signs. 
Use of Tilden's Principles 
Relate it to the Audience The interpretive signs talk directly to the audience, e.g. "What brings you to Amisk Trail?..." It often asks questions or invites the reader to think about or look for things along the trail – asking them to actively participate in the interpretation. The signs talk about what the visitor might be experiencing along the trail, what they might be feeling and how they are benefiting from being in nature. It shows photographs of locations they are likely familiar with, but in a different time period, e.g. Brereton Lake which is adjacent to the trail. We also kept references to the science very simple. 
Interpretation is not just information, it is revelation At the first stop we tie the site – a stand of Labrador Tea – to the idea of spending time in nature as being comforting like a cup of tea, while talking about the plant. Later on, having encouraged the visitor to think about how they are rejuvenated by spending time in nature, the connection is then made with how parks provide safe places for many aspects of nature to rejuvenate too. It makes connections about changing land ethics and the start of park systems, and how they are benefiting from the vision of those who started park systems. In the conclusion it points out: Part of the positive impact [they are feeling] is because in nature we feel a part of it – part of something bigger than us, part of a larger community to which we belong. 
Interpretation is an art that combines many arts We hope that we have artfully involved the audience along the trail and encouraged them to appreciate the benefits they receive from natural parks. Another art being used is the writing skills of other naturalists in their classic quotes. A note about the quotes – some have said that interpreters use these classic quotes too often. We believe that yes interpreters are very familiar with them but they can be a new, thought provoking quote to the general public. 
Interpretation is not instruction but provocation This was a major goal of the interpretation on the Amisk Trail – to encourage visitors to think about why parks were created, how they benefit from time in nature, and encourage them to come back often. We hope ultimately the experience will increase support for protection of natural areas. 
Interpretation will present a whole The first interpretive sign acknowledges that visitors might be on the trail for any number of reasons – physical activity, time with family or friends, do some fishing, or to enjoy a little quiet time. No matter their reason for being on the trail that day, they will benefit from time in nature. Manitobans and our visitors all benefit from our natural park system. 
Interpretation for children should take a different approach Given the theme and more philosophical approach to the interpretation we did not try to provide interpretation for children. It is always hoped that the adults with the children will be able to interpret the content to the appropriate age level of the child they are accompanying. An additional product was developed for children – a guided hike that compliments the signs, but that requires a whole other entry. 
Goals and Objectives 
Our goal was to encourage visitors to think about the benefits they receive, on many levels, from spending time in nature. 
Our objectives were to (1) increase support for natural parks, (2) to encourage people to spend more time in natural parks, (3) promote healthy living, and (4) dedicate the trail to Walter Danyluk, the first Director of Manitoba Parks. 
Intended Audience 
The target audience is trail users in Whiteshell Provincial Park, which includes cottagers, campers and day trippers. 
Theme Statement 
We all benefit from spending time in nature and have visionaries like Aldo Leopold and Walter Danyluk to thank. 
Background on Asset being Interpreted Whiteshell Provincial Park is designated a Natural Park consisting of 2,729 square kilometres of boreal forest. It is part of a provincial park system in Manitoba, which has more than 80 parks that protect some four million hectares of land representing Manitoba's natural diversity, cultural history and favourite recreation spots. Approximately five million people visit Manitoba parks every year – one of the highest visitation rates in the country – and the Whiteshell is one of the most popular parks. 
Sustainable Practices in Interpretation We chose to do interpretive signs instead of the more economical printed brochures because they are more sustainable in the long run. There is less waste on the landscape and do not need to be reprinted when government logos, etc. change. The signs were manufactured locally. 
Project Team 
S. Dangerfield Interpretive Planning – Sherry Dangerfield - theme development, research, writing 
Manitoba Parks and Natural Areas – Morgan Hallett - project management, graphic design, manufacturing and installation, with the assistance from Sloan Cathcart 
Project Plan 
As this is being submitted by S. Dangerfield Interpretive Planning, with the support of Manitoba Parks and Natural Areas, I do not have access to the overall budget for the project. The acting Head of Interpretation at the time is no longer in the position. The following is the outline of the methodology use to develop the project up to the graphic design stage after which Manitoba Parks and Natural Areas took the reins. 
S. Dangerfield Interpretive Planning Methodology 
The following methodology was used to develop the resource package for a trailhead sign, 12 interpretive signs and orientation brochure, up to the graphic design stage.
Initial meeting with client to determine themes of the trail and gather any existing background information

  • Two site visits to conduct interpretive resource inventory, plus additional visit to map stops
  • Assessment of site for interpretive features that can demonstrate the desired themes
  • Develop a Theme Statement to be approved by client, based on topics unlined in RFP Appendix A
  • Research interpretive features and themes 
  • Develop storyline based on interpretive features and theme
  • Provide client with interpretive theme titles for approval
  • Identify and map interpretive locations for the trail using GPS as well as flagging on site
  • Write text for trailhead sign, 10 to 12 interpretive stops and orientation brochure, using interpretive techniques and a maximum of 300 words per item
  • Provide client with first draft of text for trailhead, signs and brochure for approval
  • Research and source illustrations for use on signs and brochure
  • Acquire illustrations and permissions for use, convert to electronic format as necessary and provide appropriate credits and captions
  • Source and work with subcontractors to prepare illustrations as necessary, e.g. trail map
  • Two to four drafts of the text for review by client and revisions
  • Professional proofreading of final copy of text
  • Bring project up to graphic design stage
  • Final resource package, including resource inventory, final text, illustrations and trail map to be provided on disk in Word, PDF and Jpeg format and three hard copy 

If you have any questions regarding the methodology or other aspects of the project, please contact: 
Sherry Dangerfield S. Dangerfield Interpretive Planning Box 117 Victoria Beach, MB R0E 2C0 (204) 756.2129, 

Interpretive Signs for Amisk Trail 

Trailhead Sign - see top of page

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Trail Map