As all of you know, Gene Stratton-Porter was a naturalist, a scientist, a researcher, an author, and a champion of Limberlost Swamp and its flora and fauna. She dedicated her life to educating others about the importance of wetlands.
The Friends of the Limberlost have honored Gene in the most fantastic way - by restoring Gene's Limberlost Swamp to its former glory. I wanted to help, too, by using my abilities and knowledge of technology. I approached Ms. Terri Gorney and asked whether Limberlost would be interested in a birding app (in the case of Apple, we ultimately decided on an iBook, rather than an app, for purposes of cost savings).
I chose to focus on birding because Gene loved birds and she hoped to inspire others to help her protect those birds. In "What I Have Done With Birds", she made a solemn promise to the birds: "I shall try to win thousands to love and shield you."
I also felt that an app and iBook would encourage more birders to visit Limberlost. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are 47 million birders in the U.S. Annually, birders spend $41 billion in birding trips and equipment. Over 23% of Hoosiers spend an average of 122 days per year birding, making Indiana 8th in the nation for the number of days we spend birding. Limberlost is a birder's paradise, with a wide variety of habitats and birds.
In addition, bird watching is an ideal way for teachers to introduce the natural world to their students. Many of Indiana's Academic Standards are satisfied by the study of birds, from kindergarten through high school.
Thus, a birding app and iBook were born!
When designing the app and iBook, I wanted to include a description of Limberlost, a short biography about Gene, photos of the common Limberlost birds, a description of the birds, and where to find them. Most importantly, I wanted the reader to hear about each bird, learn more about the habitat, or discover a bit about Gene's life from Gene herself.
Gene Stratton-Porter's love of the plants and wildlife of Limberlost was reflected in her books. It seemed fitting to include her quotes regarding these birds and their habitats. These quotes were included on the pages of corresponding birds so that Gene herself can guide users through Limberlost and give her own personal account of each bird or the area.
There is also a link to the Events section of the website, a Contact section that allows people to email or call Limberlost straight out of the app or iBook, and a Maps section that contains an area map, trail maps, and a GPS option that will give you directions to Limberlost from your current location.
It has taken almost a year, but the project is finished! The mobile app is a free download from Google or Amazon. The 258-page interactive iBook is a free download from Apple. (links below)
One final note: I would not have been able to complete the project without the help of several people. My sister, Alexandra Forsythe, provided the bird descriptions and most of the photos. Additional photos were provided by Jim McCormac, Bill Hubbard, Randy Lehman, and Mike Linderman. Information about Limberlost was provided by Terri Gorney, Randy Lehman, Curt Burnette, Bill Hubbard, and Ben Hess. I am very grateful to all of these wonderfully talented people, and to everyone in the Friends, for their support!