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Ecocenter writing
workshop set for April 14-15



Suzanne Vernon, Sue Stone and Diann Erikson select photos for copying during the February 11-12 Oral History Workshop at the Condon Work Center.









Seeley Swan Pathfinder
March 25, 1999

Montana writers Richie and Benyus to teach workshop in the Swan Valley Swan Ecosystem Center and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks are offering a writing workshop April 14-15 in the Swan Valley to help people who describe Montana's natural and cultural heritage hone their skills.

Interpretive writers Deborah Richie and Janine M. Benyus will teach writing techniques that make technical information entertaining and relevant.

Participants will learn to select compelling themes and choose telling details to illuminate stories.

Deborah Richie, a frequent contributor to "Field Notes" on Montana Public Radio, works full time as a freelance interpretive writer, journalist and instructor. Most recently, she taught interpretive writing at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the 1998 National Watchable Wildlife Conference. Current writing includes: historic and geologic interpretive panels for Alaska State Parks; Garnet Ghost Town and Scenic Byway interpretive signs; a national wildlife viewing ethics manual for professionals.

Science writer Benyus received praise for her recently published book "Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature" in the New York Times Book Review, the San Francisco Chronicle, and High Country News. The Vancouver Sun said: "Benyus writes like an angel from the moment of her opening sentence."

Benyus said: "Biomimicry explores a new field of science that is studying nature's best ideas and then imitating these designs and processes to solve human problems. Biomimicry can help us grow food like a prairie, harness solar energy like a leaf, find cures like a chimp, make materials like a spider, compute like a cell, and run a business like a redwood forest."

"Illuminating Places, an Interpretation Writing Workshop," is for people who work or volunteer for a park, museum, historical society, cultural center, or recreation area, or simply have a desire to learn more about interpretive writing.

The workshop will be held at the U.S. Forest Service Condon Work Center on Montana Highway 83 at Condon. Meals are included in the workshop fee. Participants may reserve bunkhouse space or stay overnight in nearby accommodations.

The fee for participants who sign up before April 1 is $100. After April 1, the fee is $110.

Swan Ecosystem Center, with an office in the U.S. Forest Service Condon Work Center, is a nonprofit, consensus-oriented citizens' group engaging the public in ecosystem management issues and actions.

For more information contact Anne Dahl, Swan Ecosystem Center, 406-754-3137,; or Marcella Sherfy, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, 406-444-3753.

Swan Valley workshops bring experts and dollars to the community. Five workshops were held at the U.S. Forest Service Condon Work Center January through March 1999.

The Missoula County sheriff's Department, Montana Conservation Corps, University of Montana Wilderness Institute, teachers and students from around the state, and Swan Valley residents were among the groups attending workshops in Condon this winter. Course subjects included wilderness first aid, forest management issues and oral histories.

The Swan Lake Ranger District and Swan Ecosystem Center cooperatively host conferences, seminars and workshops on topics relating to forests, ecosystems and outdoor recreation at the U. S. Forest Service Condon Work Condon.

The Swan Lake Ranger District was considering closing the Work Center in 1994, due to declining budgets, when citizens in the Swan Valley formed the nonprofit Swan Ecosystem Center. The organization is directed by a nine-member board made up of people with diverse perspectives. Eight of the directors are Swan Valley residents. The group wants to maintain the connection between the community and land managers.

Workshops and seminars generate funds for facility maintenance costs, bring business to Swan Valley motels, restaurants and gas stations, and bring experts into the community.

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