With your parks (almost) all selected, the next step is making the initial contacts with park personnel. The more intrepid of you may have already taken the initiative to do so, but my plan is to personally contact someone at each one of the 48 selected parks and then follow up with an introductory e-mail that reads something like this:
Greetings! [Name], it was nice to chat with you on the phone this afternoon. As I mentioned, I’m the Chief Ranger & Historian at FOVA, and I also teach history at Portland State University through an NPS partnership. This quarter, my NPS Public History Field School students are creating a podcasting plan for the NPS’ Civil War 150th Commemoration. You can view our class blog here: https://hst409509.wordpress.com/
As you can see from the blog, we’re combining three learning threads (NPS History/Policy, Civil War Memory/Commemoration, & Interpretation/Digital Storytelling/Podcasting) to meet our assignment of presenting the NPS’ CW 150th team with a 4-year podcasting plan (a series of 48 monthly audio podcasts over a period of four years) that ties 48 parks directly to one of the 16 interpretive themes established in the landmark NPS planning document Holding the High Ground.
[Park Name] has been selected as one of the 48 parks for this podcast series. Within the next week, [STUDENT NAME], a student in the class (copied in above) will be in contact to help identify a compelling story or object that relates your park to the theme “causes.” For more information on this NPS theme and [STUDENT’S] approach to it, you can click here: [INSERT LINK TO STUDENT’S THEME PAGE HERE].
All of the students have done their homework, so this should not take too much staff time; we are planning and identifying stories that are suitable for future podcasts, not creating the podcasts.
We plan to have this plan completed and submitted to WASO by mid-March, and you will receive a copy, too. If you’re able to identify a particular staff member to work with us, it would be great! If not, any connection you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
The purpose of this contact is twofold. First of all, I want to make sure to properly introduce you and your role in this NPS project. By providing introduction and context, I think we’ll have a better rate of response and involvement. Secondly, as an NPS employee I understand how busy park folks are. In my experience, I’ve had the most success connecting with colleagues in other parks by simply talking with someone prior to sending them an e-mail message — especially when it involves workload on their part.
Earlier today I began contacting parks that you’ve locked in, with a goal of at least one park contacted for each of you by class on Friday. If you have a priority park identified and you’re rarin’ to go, please add a comment below with the park name and I’ll contact folks there post-haste.
Lastly, I’m compiling a database of all of the parks and contact folks I’ve identified, and will plan on sharing it at Friday’s class.