The Society For The Protection Of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society) is one of the oldest and most respected nonprofit land management organizations in the United States. The organization was founded in 1901 with a mission to protect the White Mountains and forests of New Hampshire. Today it has over 10,000 active members and it continues to focus on protecting, highlighting, and managing open spaces for future generations.
The Forest Society launched in OuterSpatial in 2021, kicking things off with their DIY 5 Hikes Challenge. We caught up with Anna Berry — their Digital Outreach Manager — and Carrie Deegan — their Reservation Stewardship & Engagement Director — to learn about how their community has responded to their new app, how their hiking challenge went, and their plans for 2022.
Why did you want a mobile app for your community?
Anna and Carrie described how they had previously worked for years on an in-house web app called the Forest Explorer that ended up not really working for them. They got bogged down in the complexities of building, designing, and continually updating the app. A few years ago they shifted gears and decided to join OuterSpatial. As Carrie explains:
First off, we felt like a native mobile app was the way to go to enhance the on-the-trail experience we were looking to offer our community. Second, we learned from experience the difficulties of managing the tech side of an app and didn’t want to take that on anymore.
We also really wanted to provide something unique to our visitors. The interpretive guides that we provide and the challenge we offered aren’t available anywhere else.
It was really fun to watch the social feed in the app from a distance. How did you all decide to launch your new app in OuterSpatial with your 5 Hikes Challenge?
Anna mentioned that they had previously run the challenge as an in-person event with hiking leaders. When the pandemic hit, they wanted to continue the event but needed to evolve it to be a more DIY experience for visitors. Anna describes:
For the 5 Hikes Challenge, folks are choosing from a curated list of trails that we put together, some of the best adventures on our forest reservations. It made perfect sense to launch the app with this event since folks needed a tool to navigate to the trail, track their progress on the challenge, and somehow share with us and the community that they actually completed the hikes. Our new app offered an easy way to do all of that.
How did the 5 Hikes Challenge turn out? Would you consider it a success?
We had 350+ folks participate which was less than 2020, but more than we traditionally get. We were very happy with the turnout.
We also enjoyed seeing so many hikers posting photos and updates from the trail to OuterSpatial’s social feed — the app helped create a sense of community among those who used it for the challenge.
We ran a survey that 80+ folks filled out after the challenge was over. We got a lot of great feedback, mostly positive. The challenge really helped us with membership renewals this year as well. Overall it was a success and we plan to offer it again in 2022!
5 Hikes Challenge 2021 details: Utilizing the new challenges feature in OuterSpatial, the Forest Society curated 20+ unique hikes. Participants chose and completed 5 hikes to receive a variety of prizes. It was free for members and $8/hike for nonmembers, and it ran from August 30 to October 31, 2021.
To learn more about the 5 Hikes Challenge offered by the Forest Society, check out this blog post on their website: https://forestsociety.org/blog-post/finishing-successful-5-hikes-challenge.
See more about the Forest Society Mobile App: https://forestsociety.org/download-forest-society-mobile-app
Thank you to Carrie and Anna for taking the time to talk to us!