Duo uses video to make national parks accessible to online viewers
by Laura Haley
contributing writer
Aug 30, 2012 | 743 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
National Park Service ranger Karen Henker narrates a video for Arches National Park near Moab. Henker and NPS employee Neal Herbert have filmed several podcasts and short videos related to the region’s national parks. Photo by Neal Herbert
National Park Service ranger Karen Henker narrates a video for Arches National Park near Moab. Henker and NPS employee Neal Herbert have filmed several podcasts and short videos related to the region’s national parks. Photo by Neal Herbert
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The rock formations in Arches National Park may be millions of years old, but that doesn’t mean that the park is stuck in the Stone Age. Park employees Neal Herbert and Karen Henker are trying to bring the park into the virtual age with the help of a video camera and the Internet.

Henker is a lead interpreter at Canyonlands National Park. She and Herbert, a visual information specialist for Canyonlands, have been working together on and off since 2007 to make a series of videos to help spread information about the wonders of the parks.

“Neal and I are both really passionate about new media,” Henker said. “People spend a lot of time on their Blackberries and computers. It makes sense to try and reach them there.”

Together, the two have filmed a series of eight interpretive podcasts for Canyonlands. The series, titled “Inside Canyonlands,” is available on the park’s website.

“It’s essentially a mini-ranger program that people can attend virtually,” Henker said. The podcasts cover a variety of topics, including the Ancestral Puebloans, bighorn sheep, potholes and other subjects.

And the podcasts are not the only films the two have made together. In December, a short clip that they filmed wishing the country “Happy Holidays” from Arches National Park was selected as the opening sequence for the National Park Service’s holiday greetings video. The NPS video was shown during the White House tree lighting ceremony, according to Herbert.

Henker said she believes that video clip caught someone’s eye, and the duo was asked to make another short film highlighting National Park Week. That film, which can be viewed on the NPS web page for National Park Week, features Henker inviting the public to enjoy one of the 397 national parks in the country.

The 30-second spots such as the one that was featured at the White House take about half a day to film and produce, said Herbert. However, the three- to five-minute videos that comprise the podcasts generally takes about a week to complete and sometimes longer, depending on what areas they are filming in.

Herbert said he has also done several other videos for the parks.

“It runs the gamut of various projects,” he said.

His work includes a canyoneering safety video in Zion’s National Park as well as an informational video about what people can expect on a hike through the Fiery Furnace in Arches.

Henker said that she and Herbert are hoping to reach out to even more people by uploading their podcasts and other informational videos to YouTube, which they hope will to make them more accessible to the public.

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