OHIO alums use their analysis to create indicators for OHIO’s Outside Museum


Open-air museum signs, designed by the youngest OHIO graduates, line the Hockhocking Adena cycle path next to the Hocking River, describing the history of the river and the species of fish found in it.

Three new Ohio University alumni used their graduate research to expand immersive outdoor learning at the OHIO Museum Complex (OMC) by helping develop signage in the open air museum.

Emily Feist graduated with a Masters in Outdoor Recreation and Education and a Certificate in Museum Studies in May 2021; Jasmine Facun graduated with a Masters in Environmental Studies in May 2020; and Moria Snuffer graduated with a Masters in Environmental Studies in May 2020. Each of these students brought unique skills acquired through their graduation at OHIO to share knowledge with the general public as a tangible result of their studies.

Feist helped develop outdoor learning experiences and signposts for the open-air museum, as well as developing a hiking map with three hiking loops. She also produced a nature diary and a foldable hiking map.

The Ridges hiking map designed by Feist.

Outdoor recreation and education is a growing field exploring how people participate in outdoor activities to improve their wellbeing and have informal learning experiences, ”said Feist. “The open-air museum celebrates the rich history of our place and combines nature and the environment with health and wellness offers. It’s an important resource that welcomes a diverse community of all ages and backgrounds to find something to enjoy, learn something new, and take a break from everyday life. “

When developing the signposts, Feist thought about how visitors use and interact with information in a spatial context. she worked with outdoor experts to shape a series of interconnected trails in three main loops emanating from different parking lots and consider how the lack of Clear navigational signage can limit a person’s desire to engage in outdoor learning. She challenged herself to develop a system to overcome these obstacles.

“I enjoyed rethinking the user experience for a range of activities from running to research, recreation to education to welcome new and returning visitors to the space,” said Feist. “The principles of outdoor recreation and graphic design were critical in processing the user experience and translating it into tangible visual language to make visitors to The Ridges more enjoyable. It was an honor to be tasked with developing the curriculum for OMC and using what I learned at Ohio University to improve the campus and community. “

This year, Feist will continue her work with the Outdoor Museum Complex and Crane Hollow Nature Preserve in a position with AmeriCorps that will use an invaluable local natural history collection for exhibitions and educational programs.

Facun’s final project focused on the Hocking River, creating a project that examined the effects of mowing regimes on plants and pollinators in the river. She developed a sign about the past, present and future of the Hocking River, which is placed near the river and accessible via the Hockhocking Adena bike path and the Peden Stadium parking lot.

“For me, history and science are a perfect match because science works best when the researcher has a clear understanding of the work that is already ahead of her,” said Facun. “History not only teaches us where we have been, but also gives us a timetable of where we could go. Athens was shaped in many ways by the wildness of the Hocking River until one day the river was tamed by human engineering and limited its meanders to a straight channel. However, interventions in nature are seldom without consequences, and in the years since the river was channeled we have learned volumes about river ecosystems and bank buffers. “

Facun explained that with a partial restoration of the riverbank habitat and consideration of more timely mowing strategies, it might be possible to return this once wild part of our city to a productive habitat for pollinators and other wildlife without jeopardizing flood protection.

Jump plants and pollinators
Facun sign explaining the effects of mowing regimes on plants and pollinators in the Hocking River.

“The experience of working together at the open air museum has allowed me to build some creative muscles and bring together three of my favorite things – art, history and science,” added Facun. “I’ve had valuable opportunities to network with people at the university that I’ve long respected, like Nancy Stevens, Faith Knutsen, and Jen Bowman. The museum signs feel like a tangible extension of my graduate research that I can proudly share with my family and community. It is really what the Grad School is about – what we learn in the classroom and in the field, to adopt and to put our knowledge into practice. “

Facun now works as a program assistant for Bailey’s Trail System at Rural Action.

Snuffer’s final project focused on ecosystem health through the collection and identification of macro vertebrates and invertebrates in the Hocking River. She used this knowledge, along with her artistic skills, to contribute to the open-air museum.

Snuffer’s sign is located near the Hocking River sign, accessible via the Peden Stadium’s bike path and parking lot, Ecosystem Health.

Common fish in the hocking
Snuffer’s sign with the 10 common fish in the Hocking River.

“The Hocking River has a huge impact on people and wildlife, and the 102 miles it runs within the state, serves as a recreational area for families, and provides important practical considerations, including drinking water,” said Snuffer.

She adds that the river flows into the Ohio River, which is a smaller part of a larger system that affects the health of the rivers that flow to the ocean.

Contributing to the OMC Open Air Museum was a way to combine my passion for art, education and science, ”said Snuffer. “Each species in an ecosystem has a unique story, and fish are often overlooked when they can tell us about the health and interactions of the ecosystem. It was great to have the opportunity to share what I learned in my graduation on this compelling platform. It’s exciting to give something back to the community that has helped me grow as an artist and scientist. “

Snuffer is now partnering with the Colorado Natural Heritage Program on the National Wetland Condition Assessment Team.

The OHIO Museum Complex offers internship opportunities for Ohio University students to explore their interests, meet educators and professionals from various disciplines, and create meaningful work both in and outside of the classroom.

“OMC interns share what they learn in OHIO classrooms, laboratories and studios in novel and exciting ways. These students make creative contributions to society, connect with wider audiences, and use their education to make a real impact, ”said Stevens, distinguished professor at the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and co-director of the OMC.

To learn more and / or to contribute to the OMC, please visit the website.