Way-finding Wedded to Nature and Culture - Humboldt State Now

Way-finding Wedded to Nature and Culture

Humboldt State University is unveiling student-created interpretive signage for the new way-finding kiosks that dot the campus. The purpose is to acquaint students and visitors with the Redwood Coast's natural and cultural heritage and with how HSU's students are "Learning to Make a Difference" in the world around them.

The kiosks, installed to assist those with disabilities, now offer more than maps and locations of HSU facilities. Graduating students Johanna Anderson and Kari Jensen designed and developed the new signage, which combines graphics and information to tell interpretive stories of the region.

The unique HSU initiative originated with President Rollin Richmond, Vice President Carl Coffey, Professor Kenneth Fulghum, Chair of Forestry & Watershed and Rangeland Resources/Wildland Soils, and Associate Professor Carolyn J. Widner Ward of the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (ENRS).

“The project benefits everyone,” Professor Ward said, “from the students, who gain real-world experience, to the university, which acquires professional interpretive assets at an economical cost. Ultimately, the general public and the campus community at large benefit from the educational opportunities provided by students, who are well respected within the community for their dedication and commitment to the project.”

Ms. Anderson, a Humboldt County native who graduated this month from ENRS with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resource Planning and Interpretation, and Ms. Jensen, who just completed her master’s in the same field, began working on templates for the project last May. They said the multi-disciplinary and multi-dimensional nature of the work has made it a big plus on their resumes and entry into the job market. Ms. Anderson is moving into a new home in Shasta County, where she plans to continue her career in park/community education and interpretation, capping five seasons of experience in California State Parks. Ms. Jensen looks forward to the same undertakings for museums, nature centers, and parks. Her previous work includes assignments with the U.S. National Arboretum, Washington, D.C., Inyo National Forest in Bishop, CA., and Redwood National Park in nearby Orick.

Professor Ward, who teaches natural resources interpretation, describes it as the translation of science, voices of history, and the significance of place to people of the present. The discipline aims to foster understanding and appreciation of nature, science, and culture combined. The kiosk signage addresses three topics: Regional History, Natural Resources, and the University.

Dr. Ward underscored that Ms. Jensen and Ms.Anderson designed the templates, researched and wrote all of the text, and oversaw the fabrication of the signs, whose installation is in progress. They record how the region’s natural resources have influenced its development and cultural history and describe the natural systems at work on the Redwood Coast’s varied landscape and seascape. Integrated with these are depictions of HSU’s institutional commitment to “Learning to Make a Difference,” the direct application of academic knowledge to practical improvements in society.

Among the regional history signs, five trace the indigenous cultural stories of five of the region’s tribes, the Hupa, Kuruk, Tolowa, Wiyot, and Yurok. Near Gist Hall, for example, passersby can learn about the Wiyot and their important role in the regional community.