WSU Professor wins National Park Service volunteer award for Fort Vancouver mobile application
Dr. Brett Oppegaard, WSU Vancouver, 360-521-8150
Greg Shine, Fort Vancouver Chief Ranger and Historian, (360) 816-6231, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Larry Ganders, The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, 360-280-6320, email@example.com
VANCOUVER, Wash. – Brett Oppegaard, assistant professor at Washington State University Vancouver, has been named the National Park Service’s regional volunteer of the year for his assistance in developing mobile device applications.
Oppegaard, who teaches and does research in Vancouver for WSU’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, was selected from among the nearly 80,000 volunteers working in the Pacific West Region including Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, and Hawaii.
A volunteer at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Oppegaard developed and produced mobile applications for iPhone, iPad and Android that are the only interactive applications of their kind anywhere in the National Park system, according to Cassie Anderson, park ranger at the site. The “Fort Vancouver Mobile” application uses geographic location technology in smart phones and tablets to take visitors on an interactive tour around reconstructed buildings of the working class “Company Village” and other park grounds. The first versions of the applications are available for free download. Based on where the visitor is standing, the applications display interviews and costumed re-enactment videos, slides, maps and audio that depict the historic significance of each location and 1840s living conditions.
For instance, the application describes the story of a Hawaiian pastor, William Kaulehelehe, who was brought in the 1840s to Fort Vancouver by the Hudson’s Bay Company. Oppegaard said Hawaiians were brought to the fort as low-paid employees, somewhat like indentured servants. The significant role of Hawaiians is a part of Northwest history that has nearly been forgotten, he said.
The National Endowment for the Humanities provided $50,000 last year for a “digital start-up” grant and this month awarded Oppegaard an additional $19,421 grant for ongoing development of the program.
Oppegaard has provided more than 5,000 hours of community service for the parks system. As the regional volunteer of the year for 2012, he is one of six volunteers in the nation to receive the regional “George and Helen Hartzog Individual Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service.” The six will compete for the national Hartzog Award winner to be determined later this year.
The awards recognize the time, talent, innovation and hard work contributed to national parks through the Volunteers-In-Parks Program.
For a behind-the-scenes blog on the Fort Vancouver Mobile Project, check out: http://fortvancouvermobilesubrosa.blogspot.com