By Allie Scott
Our MBA field studies team had the opportunity to work with the Carr Foundation in Spring 2010 on a project that focused on the development of an interpretive center at Gorongosa National Park. This interpretive center will share the story of Gorongosa, highlight Africa’s biodiversity and leave a lasting impression that inspires people to act and do more to aid in wildlife protection and conservation efforts. The scope of our team’s project was to conduct in-depth analyses of various interpretive centers in order to provide the Carr Foundation with a better understanding of how successful interpretive centers are developed and maintained. Our research focused on identifying key factors that affect the quality of visitors’ experiences at the interpretative centers, including design, layout, storyline, appeal, maintenance, materials and technology.
Photo by Paul Kerrison
We focused our research on specific interpretive centers throughout the world that have proven to be successful, and had the opportunity to travel to some of these sites to conduct interviews with center directors and see the exhibits firsthand. Two team members traveled to California, where they visited Yosemite National Park, the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park. The other three team members traveled to British Columbia, Canada, where they visited the Royal BC Museum, the Wickaninnish Interpretive Center in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, the Shaw Ocean Discovery Center, the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center and the British Columbia Canada Pavilion at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
These site visits helped our team develop an understanding of the designs, features and content that help make an interpretive center successful and provide guests with a meaningful experience. This also allowed us to present a first-hand account of the visitor experience at each location and formulate several recommendations for the Carr Foundation to use as their interpretive center project as Gorongosa moves forward. Working with the Carr Foundation was a unique and valuable experience for our team. This was an excellent way to blend our academic experience at the Huntsman School with a practical application from the Carr Foundation. We appreciated the opportunity to contribute to the overall mission of Gorongosa National Park while completing our MBA degrees and feel this experience will help us in our own careers moving forward.
MBA team members included Curtis Allen, Shawn Anderson, Allie Scott, Erik Swensen, Kassie Walkenhorst.