WEBSITE / SOCIAL MEDIA DEVELOPMENT:
Aside from creating this very website you are on, I have created a few others in my time dating back to around 2000. The old ones are now defunct and gone, but some more recent endeavors are still accessible on the web and / or social media platforms. Below you will find some websites I have created from the ground up, as well as facebook pages I have created, own, and operate for personal use, and for a few organisations to which I belong.
MASTER GARDENERS OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA:
Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia – www.mgnv.org – In the winter of 09/10, I decided to finally do something I had wanted to do for quite sometime. That is to obtain my Master Gardener certification in the Commonwealth of Virginia. For those not familiar with these programs, they are offered in almost every state in the United States, through that state’s cooperative extension office. In my case, that would be the Virginia Cooperative Extension. To learn more about what state cooperative extensions are you may click here. At any rate, While attending classes I noticed that the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia had an antiquated and outdated website that was ostensibly not updated regularly, and not user friendly. Bluntly put, it was old, ugly, and fairly useless. I also noticed that they had ZERO social media presence. So being a bit of an online junkie that I am, I set out to change both of these issues for the better. I began by bringing them up to date with the creation and running of their very first facebook page. In this process I also designed a new logo which was however based on the current Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners logo, by making it local to our specific chapter. After seeing the response, many were quite pleased with this. Subsequently I also created and ran their new twitter account as well. I attended many meetings and made my case for this move into the modern times. While many see the demographic of Master Gardeners as mainly little old lady’s with little to no interest in facebook or even the internet really, I saw something different. I saw that demographic as a challenge. I also saw that, from my class, and subsequent years classes that, those demographics were doing two things. Trending towards younger people, AND, even older people in the 40’s / 50’s and older were becoming more internet and social media savvy. With the successes of the facebook page and twitter account, I set my sights on what was, as I described above, as an outdated, minimally used website, which was rarely updated, and honestly, just looked “bad”. After some push back from some, I did have the Cooperative Extension, as well as the current president of the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia, on my side, so, I set out to develop a shiny, brand spanking new website. After about 1 year of being in beta, the site was officially launched, and received largely positive reviews across the board. This site is still in use today, in conjunction with both the facebook page and twitter account, and appears to be working beautifully. Since that time I have largely turned over day to day operations to one of the resident members, and president who happens to also be an IT professional. You can visit the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia’s website by clicking the link above, or the Master Gardeners logo photo to the left.
WEST VIRGINIA HIGHLANDS CONSERVANCY:
West Virginia Highlands Conservancy Facebook Page – Being and avid hiker and outdoor person most of my life, I have taken many trips in many places to explore the natural beauty that mother nature gives to us, for free. One of the most special places to me, and the place I did my first 6 day, 26 mile circuit hike/ backpacking, is Dolly Sods, West Virginia. This very wilderness area WOULD NOT EXIST TODAY, without the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy.
Situated along the spine of the Eastern Continental Divide this area comprises the heart of the central Appalachian / Allegheny Mountains and the Allegheny Front. This particular area in central eastern West Virginia contains some of the most beautiful and magnificent natural areas and features contained within the entire United States. High mountain peaks and plateaus create a area as unique as the come for this part of the country, and offers diversity in flora and fauna not found this far south. It is as if a piece of northern Canada has slid down into the mid Atlantic states, with alpine peaks and meadows, alpine sphagnum bogs, coniferous boreal forests with the climate to match. It also contains the highest valley east of the Mississippi River, Canaan Valley with a valley floor elevation of 3,200 feet, and is home to some species of plants and animals such as the Saw Whet Owl, and Snowshoe Hare, which are typically found much farther to the north. It is isolated, desolate, and remote. It is some of the most remote back country in the eastern half of the United States. However this area has a history, and was almost lost to the hand
of man. Much of this area, esp the coniferous forest of Canaan Fir and Red Spruce were logged, almost to the point of complete destruction from the 1800’s to the early 1900’s. It suffered massive fires, which burned much of the soil all the way down to the bedrock as a result mainly of sparks from old logging railroads, and was most recently used as a munitions testing ground during World War II. Since that time the area has been largely left undisturbed. The Monongahela National Forest which began in 1911, became a small protected area of 7,200 acres in 1915. It has steadily grown throughout the last century, and today covers almost 1 million acres of land, and contains 8 wilderness areas which total almost 100,000 acres combined. Dolly Sods Wilderness is one of those areas. That, along with Roaring Plains West, Flatrock Plains, as well as Spruce Knob, Cranberry
Glades, and Gaudineer Scenic District are the areas which I personally hold most dear. This is where the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy comes in. Some of you may have seen this logo / bumper sticker before which proclaims ” I LOVE (heart) MOUNTAINS”. (pictured at right) That sticker was made by, and belongs to, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, and no one else.
Upon returning from a trip to Dolly Sods in 2009, and having knowledge of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and who they are, and what they have achieved, I decided to search on facebook for a page for them. To my surprise, I found nothing but a small group, which had not been posted in for a couple of years. It was then I decided to take it upon myself to create a facebook page for that organisation, as well as finally become a paying member. I created the page, and began updating it with news articles, facts, photos, etc… related to the West Virginia Highlands and surrounds. After a while of posting, inviting people, and paying for facebook ads, the page took off and got noticed by WVHC. I was subsequently contacted by their president, and thus began my relationship as an active part of WVHC. The page has been largely well received and a good success. While I still operate the page, I leave most of the day to day postings to WVHC’s current president, and now friend.
To give you an idea of what the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy is about, here is an excerpt from their website’s “About Us” section.
“First coming together in 1965, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy is one of the state’s oldest environmental activist organizations. With the increased awareness of environmental issues in the 1960s, a coalition of recreational users of the West Virginia Highlands came together to address a whole host of environmental threats to our state. Over the past 40 years, the Highlands Conservancy has continued to be the leader in protecting the natural environment of our state through both defensive and offensive campaigns.
When the Highlands Conservancy was formed, the proposed Highlands Scenic Highway would have sliced a gaping wound from north to south through the heart of the highlands, the Royal Glen dam would have flooded much of the Potomac Valley including the Smoke Hole area, the Davis Power project threatened much of Canaan Valley with inundation, the proposed Rowlesburg Dam on the Cheat River threatened to flood the Cheat River Valley including the St. George area, and newly proposed strip mines threatened many of our forests and mountains and condemned many of our waterways with acid mine drainage.
From the beginning, the Highlands Conservancy has dealt with a whole array of threats to our wonder-full state. We were instrumental in the passage of the Eastern Wilderness Areas Act, which gave us our first Wilderness areas–Dolly Sods and Otter Creek. We began a campaign that lasted over 35 years to protect Canaan Valley and saw the successful establishment of a National Wildlife Refuge there. We mounted campaigns to stop numerous dams proposed around the state. We filed our first lawsuit against strip mining in 1967, which was the beginning of almost 40 years of leadership on coal mining issues in West Virginia. We helped enact important environment-protecting legislation such as the Surface Mine Control and Reclaimation Act (SMCRA) and the National Forest Management Act (NFMA). Protecting clean air, clean water, forests, streams, mountains, and the health and welfare of the people that live here, is what the Highlands Conservancy is all about.”