What could a National Park Warden do with Social Media?

My pal Dan Slee (@danslee) today posted that question on Twitter today.

I was, frankly, a bit amazed at the thought that our National Parks and/or their staff weren’t already exploiting social media. A quick search on Google revealed that there were some National Park Chief Executives or “admins” blogging and doing other things on line. But not Wardens. It’s clearly been thought about. These were sad finds, for example:

http://www.breconbeacons.org/environment/helens-new-folder/wardens-blog
and
http://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/index/looking-after/rangers.htm

A thousand and one thoughts started racing through my mind, which I’ve distilled down to this short list of possible uses. I hope these might set further thoughts running in the minds of others. I offer it simply to get a discussion going and other ideas to be put forward. It seems to me most of it would apply to local authority country parks as much as to National Parks.

1) Every Warden to have a smartphone and a Twitter account of their own, and be encouraged to tweet about everything they do. (I do realize I am taking mobile phone reception for granted here, which it might not be throughout some of our National Parks). The opportunity for tweeting weather conditions, traffic and parking problems, photos of work they are doing, safety issues, appeals for help, and so on. Real time news is a reality via Twitter. There are some really good examples of people tweeting really interesting stuff about the job they do.

2) Every Park to have a Facebook page and to encourage visitors to use this for comments, photos, discussions, etc, etc. The National Park authority to play an active part in turning these things into discussions, to encourage visitors, responsible behavior, environmental awareness, and so on.

3) National Park Wardens should be blogging! Regular pieces, with photos, from Wardens, would be a fabulous way to share the important work they do. Hats off to the voluntary wardens in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park for this, as an example.

I’d love to read a regular blog from a Warden working in any of our National Parks. Just think of the wealth of information they could share as the year goes round, even blogging, say, once a month?

4) Photo and media sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube are social media. National Park Authority web sites should have online photo and video galleries, and be encouraging Wardens and visitors to be feeding material to these.

I have no link with any UK National Park, though I’ve visited them all, some many, many times. I hope someone find this helpful.

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