Minnesota Outdoor Reflection is a project completed for ENGL 3177 Weblogs and Wikis as part of the course’s final capstone project.
About Minnesota Outdoor Reflection:
Minnesota Outdoor Reflection on Blog 218 is a blogging project that explores a wide variety of outdoor-related topics that are relevant and of interest to those interested in the outdoors, especially for those who live, or have ties with, the state of Minnesota. After a great deal of debate, I finally decided on this topic because of my passion for the outdoors and my interest in Minnesota’s storied outdoor culture. I hoped to learn more about this culture as I researched and wrote on my chosen topics. I also wanted to share what I learned in the writing process with my classmates, peers, and those interested in my blog. Reader engagement was a central theme of my project as well — I tried my best to write posts that would interest a wide variety of readers and encourage those readers to comment on, like, and link my blog posts to their own blogs.
As my blog progressed, my blog changed from a mostly news blog to a combination news/personal blog. This will be discussed later on in this report.
The basis of my project started with the use of a number of established outdoor-related print and web resources, including Minnesota Outdoor News, The Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website, and other websites when necessary, looking for articles dealing with topics relating to the outdoors including hunting regulation changes, fisheries management issues, and other similar topics. I worked to find new, controversial, and pressing issues in these sources to present. I did my best to find articles with content that may be new to Minnesota’s outdoor enthusiasts and inform them of the ins and outs of the particular subject. When writing about older, more known articles, I tried to look at the issue critically and present a new side to the argument to keep the information fresh and interesting for my readers.
After picking out a variety of material from the previously mentioned sources, the work began to turn them into blog posts on Blog 218. My formula for each post was to summarize the article in its entirety while emphasizing the high points of the piece, reporting on the significance of the source’s argument or information, and finally, offering my own unique perspective on the topic by drawing upon my experiences.
I tried to post three times per week on outdoor topics, plus a weekly reflection on my progress during each week. I organized each post by its specific category (hunting, fishing, wildlife management, etc.) to make them easily searchable for my readers. I also utilized tags to allow potential readers to find my posts easily. In addition, pictures, videos, and other media were added to each post to make it most visually appealing and interesting to read.
The first three weeks of the project went relatively smoothly. I jumped right into posting about a variety of topics from wildlife management scares and successes to fishing regulation changes to Lyme disease prevention:
- Good (but not great) news for MN moose herd
- Minnesota’s Trumpeter Swans Flourish
- Rebirth (and auger maintenance)
- Big Changes for Popular MN Lake
- Tick Tock for Tick Season
- The Chippewa: One of Minnesota’s Wonders
Finding topics to write about for these first three weeks proved to be a bit of a challenge. My goal was to report on interesting topics that I had at least some experience with with the goal of offering my own opinion on the subject. The fact that new outdoor policies and regulations are reported on every week made the search difficult at times. In addition, procrastination was also a limiting factor on my ultimate success starting out. I would spend a vast majority of the week looking for articles in Minnesota Outdoor News, Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, and other sources which forced me to scramble to meet contracted deadlines.
After a suggestion by Professor Morgan to focus more on “field trips” instead of only summarizing and reporting, I began to write more about the various outdoor activities that I personally take part in on a weekly basis. I found these posts to be a turning point in the project. They were fun to write about a share with others and I got pretty good reception on them. I found that taking the time to document my own outdoor experiences and write them up into blog posts was a good writing exercise. In fact, some of my posts brought back good memories and experiences in my past, which was actually pretty therapeutic. I kept the format the same as per my contract (three posts per week + reflection, 500 words each). Below are the posts that I wrote in this second phase of my project.
- East Side
- A Brief Post About Wolves
- Lakeshore Cleanup
- Update: Lake Mille Lacs
- Abby’s First Hunt
- Abby’s Second Hunt
- Diamond Point Park
- Decoy Carving
All in all, I feel my project went smoothly. I really enjoyed writing on a topic that I truly care about and am passionate about. This made the time I spend searching for articles, researching that particular topic, and turning it into a blog post interesting. The fact that I had a personal interest in what I was writing about helped my own understanding of the issues facing Minnesota’s outdoor culture. For instance, I learned more about the Lake Mille Lacs tourism industry, the controversy behind wolf hunting, and the science behind the decline of the NW Minnesota’s moose population than I knew before tackling this project.
I am happy that I was given the suggestion to branch out and write about my own experiences in the outdoors. It truly made the project more enjoyable while still keeping the overall “Minnesota Outdoor Reflection” theme. Engagement with readers, one of the central goals of the project, fell a bit short of my expectations. A few classmates, and even a few random strangers who stumbled across the blog, commented on and “liked” my various posts over the course of semester which helped lift my spirits and kept me motivated to continue writing. Personally, I feel like engagement would likely rise as my experience with the art of blogging increases and I find my own unique niche in the blogging world.
Weblogs and Wikis has been a very valuable course, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn about a writing medium that I had very little experience with in the past. I have a better understanding of the world of blogging now as well — no longer is it just an online journal for those to vent their frustrations. I now realize that blogging is truly a form of self-expression that gives an author tons of freedom regarding what, when, and how they want to post.
Much of the history, concepts, and practices in terms of blogging will come in handy as I continue my career in the business world after graduation. Today’s business world is largely dependent on the ability to communicate with customers, and what better way to do that than engage them with blogs and other electronic media.
In short, I had fun sharing the information and my insights on topics that I care about, and especially reading my classmates’ blogs and wikis. Our class had such a wide variety of personalities and interests that I found it extremely rewarding to browse my peers’ projects.
Thank you all for reading!