UNITY — The Sebasticook Regional Land Trust now has a new way for those who enjoy the outdoors to discover the trust’s conserved land.

Together with a student and professor from Unity College, the SRLT used free technology from the Northwestern University Knight Lab, StoryMap, which allows users tell stories through locations on a map.

Stefanie Burchill, who is majoring in environmental writing and media studies at Unity College, created the map with help from Jennifer Irving, SRLT’s executive director, and her professor, James Spartz, an assistant professor of environmental communications.

The trust works with students from Unity College every semester on a service-based project, Irving said on the phone Thursday. After Spartz discovered the tool, he presented the idea to Irving and Burchill, who was in his environmental communications class. Other students used the tool for a project about Maine’s public reserved lands. The tool seemed like a “powerful and visually compelling way” for an organization to tell a story, Spartz said.

The idea went forward, and Irving and Burchill bounced ideas around and picked the best photos and language to use to tell the lands’ stories, which was the hardest part, Irving said.

When making those choices, Irving would try to “capture the essence of the properties” and present it in a way that would make people want to visit. Spartz fine-tuned the StoryMap before it was published.


The students liked working with the tool, Spartz said, although some of the tasks were tedious at times.

“They were able to see something that they produced,” he said. “They had something tangible at the end.”

When the webpage was posted to the trust’s Facebook page on June 1, it received a large amount of traffic, Irving said. The visual appeal grabs people, she said.

“It catches people’s attention and their imaginations,” Irving said. A few people already have said they chose to hike or explore SLRT conservation lands because of the map.

Irving hopes to make a series of StoryMaps to tell the story of the organization and the people who work there.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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