There is a well known saying that gets thrown around quite often when people are talking about pictures. Something to the tune of “a picture is worth a 1,000 words.” Starting off as an education fellow with the Aldo Leopold Foundation seven years ago, my primary role was to lead tours of the green-built Leopold Center and the historic Aldo Leopold Shack and Farm. After I had completed my training, I was given a modest set of laminated historic photos that went with the tour bag that I was instructed take along with me on my tours. While at first I may not have given them much thought, those photos soon became my go-to tour resource. I quickly learned that it’s a powerful thing to be able to show tour attendees just how barren the Shack landscape looked when Leopold and his family arrived in 1935 before the planting of the pines and prairie. I also quickly learned that it is much easier to explain how the in-floor heating and cooling works inside the Leopold Center when I can reference a photo of the piping that carries the heated (winter) or cooled (summer) water throughout the building. Photographs can help tell a story like no other tool I know of.
I no longer lead as many tours as I used to, but the power of photographs continues to make its presence known every time I open one of our social media pages on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. I’ve had the good luck of being here when the foundation started using these communication tools and I’ve have had a fun time learning all about what works best when sharing our stories with our digital audiences. Through my time learning about effective social media strategies one major lesson I’ve taken away is when it comes to social media is that pictures are king. They always seem to garner the most attention whether it be comments on Facebook, re-tweets on Twitter, or hearts on Instagram. They are a great help connecting the work of the Aldo Leopold Foundation with people across the globe. Photographs are indeed an important part of storytelling. It was always clear to me that we were telling stories when leading tours, but I also think we can tell stories digitally as well—and social media provides the perfect platform to invite other tellers to the table.
While we have no shortage of our own photos and stories to share about Aldo, his family, and the work of the Aldo Leopold Foundation, it has become extra special to see how others connect and share all things Leopold in their digital lives. It makes my day when I open up Instagram and someone has shared a Leopold quote with a photo they’ve recently taken. It’s just as exciting to see people sharing their own personal photos of the Shack on our Facebook feed. We enjoy these photographs and stories so much that we’ve created two different hashtags to help you share your photos with us!
Where can you find Leopold? Everywhere! Look for Leopold benches in backyards and parks, show us copies of A Sand County Almanac with you on your travels, share interpretive signs with Leopold quotes that you see in visitor centers across the country, or you can even share a photo of your Aldo Leopold Foundation logo gear being put to good use. Recently we’ve begun sharing these Leopold finds on our own social media channels and they’ve quickly become some of our most popular posts. It’s definitely a fun way to share some great Leopold related connections from far and wide!
This fall we are launching another exciting hashtag since we know it is the perfect time to visit Leopold Country. From now until the end of October, we are giving our visitors the chance to win a special edition of A Sand County Almanac, printed on paper made from pines planted by Leopold and his family in the 1930s & ’40s. All you have to do to be entered to win this very special book is to post a photo of your next visit to the Leopold Center on social media along with the hashtag: #VisitingAldo. (If it’s on Facebook, make sure the post is set to public or post it to our wall so we can find it!) The winner will be announced in our November e-Newsletter.
Photos really are great allies in telling stories and creating understanding, and they are a powerful tool in sharing experiences with one another. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to follow along on any or all of our social media feeds and even better share your #VisitingAldo or #LeopoldintheWild stories with us!
Follow the Fun!
One of the great things about hashtags is that they make posts about a common topic easy to find– and you don’t even need an account on these social media platforms to see what’s out there! Click the links below to see all the posts being shared with our two new hashtags. Enjoy!
November 2015 Update:
Please join us in congratulating Whitney, who was randomly selected as the winner of the #visitingAldo contest! You can connect with Whitney on Twitter @whitswilderness or at her blog. To show our appreciation for Whitney taking the time to participate, we will be sending her a special Leopold Pines Edition of A Sand County Almanac! Thank you Whitney for participating!
We’d like to thank everyone who visited us this fall and participated in our #visitingAldo contest! There were a lot of great photos posted to our social media pages and we were very excited to have you share your Leopold Center visit with us. Even though we can only pick one winner this fall, you can rest assured that we’ll have another fun contest when visitation season comes back around in May!