Capstone Project

I gotta be honest, this master’s degree thing is already not turning out as I expected. I didn’t think I would have to know 100% what my capstone would be IN MY FIRST CLASS. I thought I’d have at least  a semester to think it out – by which time I was planning on having a new job, of which I was going to build my capstone project around. I don’t have a job…

I just finished a position with the National Park Service as a Visual Information Specialist. I was hired to work for 3 years on a park-wide project redesigning and directing the fabrication of all the park’s informational and interpretive signs and brochures. I also worked as ranger during the summer season when it got very busy – I found myself being an un-official team trainer, event coordinator, manger, law enforcement officer, EMT, fee collector, fee-manager, volunteer coordinator etc… It was great, and exhausting. I loved my job but knew it was going to end. I’d been talking about getting masters degree FOREVER so figured going back to school was the best way to fill the void, and hopefully I’d find a new position within a few months. This didn’t happen. So I gotta be honest I’m not 100% sure what my capstone will be. But because I’m required to take a class that requires you decide so early, here is what I settled on. 

I always knew I wanted to do a capstone project, because I really like the idea of helping real people or organizations solve real problems. 

I was hoping to build up whatever organization I had joined, while also cementing my place in a new job. Of course this didn’t happen. SO I imagined myself collecting data for a public land organization to discover why crowding is happening in some locations but not others. 

After doing my literature review, I settled on the topic of “Social Media’s Impact on Public Land Visitation”. This subject is important to me and this area because we have seen our favorite places rapidly being overtaken by crowds of tourists. I thought this would be interesting because social media is relatively new, and it’s impact on public lands has not been well studied. 

My preliminary methodology would probably be to do surveys and/or interviews on location of a few public land sights. Some of these sights would have recently become “viral” or very popular, and the other “less popular” sights would have had similar visitation as the “viral sights” before the introduction of social media. Another option wold be to do an experiment by picking two sights with similar visitation and accessibility, and have social media influencers post about one sight, and not the other – and then collect data on whether visitation changed at the sight posted about on social media.  

That is what I’ve got – It will probably change if I land a job.

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