Final Project Writeup

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.

Contracted Work:

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.

Progress

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:

 

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.

Conclusion

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Reflection (4/11/16)

Another week has come and gone, which means another week of riveting, inspirational, funny, and entertaining posts have been published on Blog 218. My attempt at humor.

Anyway, here’s a recap of what I did this week. It was a little difficult for me this week, but a conversation with my girlfriend turned me onto an idea that became two of my three posts this week. While those posts stray a little bit from what I’ve written about in the past, I think it is still relevant to my overall goal of the project. They are also a kind of “field trip” that one of my readers suggested a try to write about. Besides that, I just really enjoyed recounting the story of two recent hunting trips I had with her.

My first post revisited a hot-button issue for Minnesota’s fishermen who frequent Lake Mille Lacs. Update: Lake Mille Lacs is about the backlash that occurred after DNR officials passed regulations on an extremely popular Minnesota fishing lake that left anglers, resorts, and business owners upset. The DNR responded to these pressures by reconsidering their previous ban on the use of live bait by walleye anglers, allowing anglers to use their favorite minnows, leeches, and worms come fishing opener. Hooking mortality rates that go alone with the use of live bait will likely be a factor that contributes at least some percentage to the success or failure of the state’s overall Lake Mille Lacs walleye management plan.

My next two posts are closely related and tell the story of my girlfriend’s first two hunting excursions with me – one taking place on a Bemidji area duck lake and the other overlooking southern Minnesota corn and bean fields during the 2015 deer opener. I tried to write these posts in a somewhat humorous way that shows the lighter side of hunting, and more specifically, the joys of introducing someone new to the outdoors. Abby, a relatively inexperienced hunter, has always been the type to try almost anything at least once. Sharing a duck boat and tree stand with me is no exception. I really enjoyed writing these posts because they brought back the great memories that are associated with those hunts. In the end, I think that is what blogging is all about in some aspects. Using blogs as a kind of diary helps the writer remember the moments in their lives that made an important impact.

As part of my informal studio tours, I poked around Hannah’s Blog and commented on her recent country music post. I plan on going back in the coming days to discover new music..she really has done a great job of exploring different genres.

Play Ball by Micah Friez made me remember how important baseball was to me growing up. I never missed a Twins game on TV. Now life seems busier and there is less time for baseball, but he did a great job at capturing the excitement behind Opening Day. Great trip down memory lane for me.

My good friend Emma is doing really interesting things on her blog. As I bundle up and walk to class in 30 degree weather, it is refreshing to read about the incredible things she is seeing and doing in England. Awesome pictures and descriptions of the places and people’s she’s seeing every day.

Well, I think that’s about it for this week. Thanks for reading!

Weekly Reflection (4/4/16)

So another week is in the rear-view mirror and we move closer to the end of the semester and for some, like me, graduation. The realization that one chapter of my life is coming to a close is starting to hit me. The promise of bigger and brighter things in the future, however, makes me really excited and wanting time to go faster.  I think this week was probably the most enjoyable week I’ve had so far posting to this blog. I was able to get outside and enjoy the decent spring weather, collect my thoughts, and share them with all of you. A brief summary of my posts this week are below:

In terms of my project, I am really thankful for the suggestion from one of my readers that I worry less about finding articles in popular hunting, fishing, and camping publications and try writing about my own experiences in the outdoors. East Side details the little jaunt I went on this weekend on the Lake Bemidji bike trail. I found myself fascinated by the ice heaves that were pushed up on shore and the abundant wildlife that I encountered on my walk. I really appreciate the fact that such beauty exists in the Bemidji area, and those looking to get out of the winter doldrums can get outdoors and experience that beauty right in their own backyard.

Next, I chose to talk a little bit about wolves and the controversy surrounding them, pass along some tidbits about wildlife management and its role in ensuring biodiversity, and share a story written by famous conservationist Aldo Leopold. In A Brief Post About Wolves, I talk about one of the more interesting stories I have read regarding wildlife conservation. Thinking Like A Mountain, written by Aldo Leopold, recounts the author’s experience and observations regarding the importance of wolves in a balanced ecosystem. He also makes a point to say that humans might benefit from learning patience and understanding from the mountains around them, for they have the experience to understand that all living things have their place in the world and that shortsighted decisions are often harmful to the environment. I go on explore a little about about the different perspectives on wolf management and include some of my own personal views towards wolves.

Lastly, I make another trip to Lake Bemidji to help clean up the garbage along the lake shore in Lakeshore Cleanup. As part of a requirement for a class that I’m taking this spring, I needed to take part in a service learning project that would help me to better understand global pollution and how humans impact the earth through their actions. My classmates and I were able to clean up a very large stretch of shoreline by simply dividing and conquering and in the process picking up plastic bottles, food wrappers, plastic bags, and even an old TV. The experience made me more aware of the impact that I have on the earth and made me want to do more to make the areas that I enjoy free of garbage and other waste. Big changes often starts from small actions: pick up your trash when out enjoying the outdoors.

Thank you for reading my blog!

Eric

 

Weekly Reflection (3/28/15)

So the 2nd week of my project has come to an end, and I have to say this week was quite a bit of a struggle compared to the other week. I just couldn’t find much to write about, and I don’t know if that is just a product of a slow news week or me just not having my eyes open wide enough. I hope to continue to come across interesting articles and topics to talk about this coming week. Part of my issue is that many of the topics that I feel could make good posts are just too cut-and-dried. I just can’t find an angle that lets me spin the story into something that I feel others would enjoy reading.

In any case, here is a recap of what I wrote this past week.

First, the biggest news I could find (and it is pretty big news) was the recent regulation changes facing anglers on one of Minnesota’s most popular fishing lakes – Lake Mille Lacs. Beginning this Spring, all walleye fishing will be catch-and-release only, with only artificial bait allowed to be used. Other regulations will also affect bass, muskie, and northern pike anglers. The DNR’s new management plan will hopefully allow walleye populations to bounce back to their previous strength while still allowing anglers to enjoy the lake and local businesses to benefit from tourism. Read Big Changes for Popular MN Lake here.

Next, the impending onslaught of ticks in Minnesota was discussed in Tick Tock for Tick Season. While many species of ticks call the state home, two of the most common species are the wood tick and deer tick. While wood ticks are generally pretty harmless, deer ticks can carry many diseases including the well-known Lyme disease. The first sign of possible Lyme disease is a red bullseye mark on the skin of the host, followed by pain in joints and muscles, fever and fatigue, and general body stiffness. I tried to take a more lighthearted look at the problem of ticks in Minnesota, while still offering enough information to help teach those not as well-versed in ticks understand them.

Finally, I was able to spend some time in the Chippewa National Forest this past weekend, which was the inspiration for my final post of the week. The Chippewa: One of Minnesota’s Wonders talks about the vastness of one of the largest forests in the United States. Covering 1.6 million acres, the Chippewa National Forest is a well-known landmark for hunters, fisherman, campers, and hikers. It truly is one of the most interesting places wild places in Minnesota.

That’s about it for this week. As I said earlier, I’m going to do my best to dig a little deeper in the weeks to come and find articles that others interested in Minnesota’s outdoors culture will find interesting. I hope you all found my posts this week interesting. Feel free to let me know if you have any ideas for topics you’d like to read more about or any other helpful tips you may have.

Until next week!

-Eric

Weekly Reflection (3/14/16)

The first week of my project is now in the books, and I’ve got to say it has gotten off to a pretty decent start overall. I was able to find two very interesting articles from a recent edition of Outdoor News to share with my readers. The fact that I had a bit of knowledge about the topics before writing the posts helped quite a bit – it allowed me to pick out details from the Outdoor News articles that my readers are interested in, and not things that are over the heads of or uninteresting to those who may not have as much knowledge on the subjects.

The two articles I pulled from the February 19th edition of Outdoor News involved two native Minnesota species that have an important role in the state’s biodiversity. Minnesota’s moose and trumpeter swan populations were featured, with facts surrounding their success or decline supported by research done by state and federal wildlife management agencies.

I started the week by writing about northwest Minnesota’s struggling moose population, after a recently released DNR report showed a slight increase in overall moose population from 2015. While the increase is absolutely great news for Minnesota’s moose, the underlying issues goes much deeper. The state has witnessed moose populations decline rapidly since 2006, and while the animals’ populations have seen slight positive and negative variances in recent years, current moose populations remain approximately half of what they were ten years ago.

Continuing within the wildlife category, my next post involved one of the largest, whitest migratory birds in North America – the trumpeter swan. These success of these birds is one of the greatest wildlife management success stories. From being nearly wiped out in the late 1800s by hunters, to regaining a foothold in Minnesota’s wetlands through reintroduction measures in the 1980s, to a Department of Natural Resource estimated breeding population of about 17,000 birds throughout Minnesota. Thanks to the hard work of many local, state, and federal organizations, trumpeter swans have made one of the greatest comebacks in wildlife management history.

My last post for the week is simply a product of what I did that day, and what I personally felt like writing about. In Rebirth (and auger maintenance), I talk a bit about the process I go through to properly clean up and store my ice fishing equipment now that spring is nearly in full force throughout Minnesota. And while the end of the ice fishing season is a slightly depressing day for many enthusiastic outdoorsmen and women, the beginning of spring brings about the annual cycle of rebirth. The grass begins to turn green, waterfowl make their way to their northern breeding grounds, and birds like robins begin calling from the treetops.

Honestly, I was a bit worried about starting this project when it was first announced and explained in class. I kept thinking about what I would write about, and whether my posts would be interesting for others to read. While whether of not my posts are interesting to others remains to be seen, finding topics to write about is not currently an issue for me.

Enjoy your spring break!

Weekly Reflection (2/23/16)

I’ve just wrapped up my SentencesAboutWritingOnAWiki page and I’ve got to say it was a bit of a challenge. I really appreciated the wide range of topics to write on. If I found that I was writing on a subject that I just really couldn’t wrap my head around, I was able to find another topic to explore fully. Finding sources was a bit of a struggle at times as well. The majority of the time I spent on the assignment was researching. Also, I’m excited to see the wiki beginning to take shape – I really do enjoy being able to click links in the wiki and being directed to other pages to explore, read, and learn from. Good work class!

I’m happy that wiki formatting and writing style is beginning to click a bit more for me. Morgan was spot-on when he mentioned in class that bootstrapping would be complicated, confusing, and difficult at times, but would be one of the best ways to learn the things we are doing in this class. For me, the first couple assignments were somewhat difficult, but I feel that after putting the time in on this assignment I am much more comfortable working on the wiki. Continue reading “Weekly Reflection (2/23/16)”

Weekly Reflection (2/8/16)

Another week has come and gone, and the reality that I’m about to be gradumatated in about three months is creeping up on me. After posting my three self-identity blog posts, I began to realize just how much my college experience positively affected my life. I was able to experience many new and exciting things, all while leaning about myself and who I was. It also brings up a lot of questions about what my life would be like if I hadn’t made the decision to attend college. Where would I be now if I hadn’t gone to college? What would I be doing? Who would my friends be?

I suppose one’s experiences plays into their perceptions of their self-identity.

For example: I became a more outgoing person after three years working for Housing & Residence Life. I’d like to think that this fact makes me a more fun and interesting person to be around, and helps to shape how I conduct myself online. This may be a poor example, but it’s the best I can think of right now. Continue reading “Weekly Reflection (2/8/16)”

Bootcamp Reflection

 

When I hear the term bootcamp, this image comes to mind.

How tall are you, Private?

Luckily, bootcamp for #en3177 wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be. I understood the assignments pretty clearly and was able to work through the various steps involved in setting up my blog, posting content, RSS syndication, and copyright/creative commons.

My life has been a little crazy the past couple weeks between work, school, and job hunting. I feel I completed scheduled assignments well and timely. If I were to do the past couple weeks over again, I would try to do a better job in managing my time and making sure that I wasn’t rushing to get content out before deadlines. In fact, I’m going to do my best to get things done in a much more timely fashion from here on out. Continue reading “Bootcamp Reflection”