Starting with my first magazine subscription (Sports Illustrated, as a 12-year-old) and through many others, including Fly Rod & Reel, Woodwork, and The New Yorker, I have always loved magazines. There’s nothing like turning the pages (on first opening it, my habit is to go back to front) of a well-designed, well-written publication saturated with content that’s meaningful and fascinating. While newspapers are fighting for their lives, their daily reporting not fast enough for readers who want their information now, magazines are closer in spirit to books. It’s a reading experience, not a data-grabbing experience. At Northern Woodlands, we have confidence that magazines and books will continue to be valued by readers and still be an effective way for us to get our message of stewardship across.
At the same time, we have been following the advances in digital technology and trying to figure out the best way for us to take advantage of it to fulfill our mission. Thanks to our administrative coordinator, Lora Nielsen, we have continued to make improvements to our website at www.northernwoodlands.org; we’ve also developed two exciting new uses of digital media.
First, we have begun a weekly electronic newsletter. Many of you have already signed up for it. It’s delivered to your inbox on Friday morning, generally comprising three articles with a variety of news and information. One newsletter feature we’re particularly excited about is our new puzzler, called What in the Woods is That. On page 19 of this issue, you’ll get a taste of what we do with this contest, in which readers try to identify an object in a photo.
Second, and perhaps more significantly, we are taking our Northern Woodlands Goes to School (NWGTS) program online. In the decade-plus that it’s been in place, NWGTS has brought copies of this magazine to more than 50,000 middle- and high-school students across the Northern Forest region. Along with the magazine goes a Teacher’s Guide that ties the magazine’s content to national and state curriculum standards. This program has been generously funded by private foundations, government grants, and individual donors. Despite these generous gifts, the program has never been fully funded.
For the last couple of years, we have experimented with delivering our Teacher’s Guide electronically. With more and more schools having high-speed internet access, this has proven to work beautifully. Teachers download and print (as necessary) the various indoor and outdoor activities and exercises that we create to augment each edition of the magazine. This has saved us considerable costs in printing and postage. Still, the major expense has been printing and delivering the nearly 6,000 copies of the magazine to the more than 300 enrolled classes.
As stated at the bottom left of this page, our mission is to use media content to increase understanding of and appreciation for the natural wonders, economic productivity, and ecological integrity of the region’s forests. The use of media is changing, and we are changing with it. What won’t change is our commitment to you, our readers, to work hard to provide you with the best information presented in the most appealing way.