Vie's Inn of Wonders' Awards

Interview CSOTY 2007-winner

Content Site of the Year 2007: Celebrating Wildflowers (opens in new window)Content Site of the Year 2007-award

We are very pleased to have with us Larry Stritch, Webmaster of Celebrating Wildflowers, that won our Content Site of the Year-award 2007...

Larry, how did the idea start to create a site about wildflowers?

Larry Stritch: The US Forest Service started it Celebrating Wildflowers program back in the 1990's. At that time it was a program that provided field trips to see wildflowers on the national forests and grasslands and informative talks about wildflowers and the botany program to interested organizations, from schools to garden clubs and to native plant societies. Two years ago several of our regional botanists and I decided that we wanted to create a web presence dealing with wildflowers and the Forest Service's botany program. The Forest Service manages 191 million acres of land for the people of the United States. It truly is a world class resource with many unusual plant communities, rare plants, and spectacular wildflowers. The development of the site was to inform people of this world class resource. It is a living web site as we are constantly adding and updating content.

Indeed, indeed... And how do you collect the abundance of information you post on the site?

Larry: We bring our best and brightest botanists, plant ecologists and other resource personnel into our national office for a two week detail. They work on a specific module assignment while they are here. We first develop a story board for the module and once we have finalized it our folks develop the content. It is an iterative process with the draft material going through editorial review by our Celebrating Wildflowers team. We then post the material on our development site so we can see how it will look when it is finally posted. We gather information from a myriad of sources: books, journals, textbooks, the World Wide Web and other sources. The images come from our employees and our volunteers. We use "drop dead gorgeous" images because that is the first factor that causes a visitor to look at a page. For those visitors we have captured with the beautiful images we then try to have an informative caption that will cause many of them to then read the content.

I couldn't agree with you more... Now what is the main objective the site wants to achieve?

Larry: Our goal is to provide people with the resources that will enable them to enjoy wildflowers and their ecosystems on the national forests and grasslands and at the same time provide information that will allow a visitor to become better informed about plants.

A worthy goal. Are there any future goals or projects you definitely want to accomplish?

Larry: We develop an annual plan of work where we decide what new modules we will develop in the coming year. We are on course to post a major new module each calendar quarter. In January of 2008 we will post a major module on lichens.

We also want to have a living web site. By that I mean that we add new content, update content, and ask ourselves what other information can we provide to our visitors that will enhance their visit and perhaps cause them to return to our web site for a future visit.

I'll be returning for sure!... Now how important is recognition (like awards) for you?

Larry: Awards and other recognition are important. They let us know that we are creating a site that is developed and designed to the highest standards. It also allows the many people who have created content and developed page designs that their work is of a very high standard. Internally it brings recognition to our Celebrating Wildflowers program and allows us to continue to program people's time and agency resources to continue updating and expanding the site.

I'm glad to have been of help in that area and thank you, Larry Stritch, for this interview and I wish you and your wonderful site all the best in the future...

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