CLEMSON – The Clemson Experimental Forest website has a new look that makes it easier for visitors to learn about all of the exciting adventures the forest has to offer.

Features highlighted on the Clemson Experimental Forest's new website include updated trail maps visitors can use to travel trails located throughout the forest.

Features highlighted on the Clemson Experimental Forest’s new website include updated trail maps visitors can use to travel trails located throughout the forest.
Image Credit: Denise Attaway/Clemson University

Updated maps for trails throughout the forest is one feature on the new website, which launched Wednesday.

“These maps have been designed to help people identify points of interest in the forest,” said Shannon Barrett, landscape architect at the South Carolina Botanical Garden. “Maps of the forest are the most commonly searched for item on our website, so we created simplified, printable maps for people interested in exploring the trail system.”

Other improvements to the website include information about the history of the forest, educational opportunities, research being conducted there, recreational opportunities and other resources. Barrett said the updated website is designed to encourage people to explore the forest.

“We are always looking to highlight how fortunate we are at Clemson University to have such a valuable asset for research, education and recreation,” Barrett said. “The updated website is intended to provide viewers with an understanding of the mission of the forest. It is designed to educate the public about ways that they can enjoy, learn about and contribute to this wonderful place.”

Barrett suggested visitors to the new site be sure to check out the Resources Page, which has an extensive lists of plants, animals and cultural resources that can be found in the forest.

In addition to a new website, the Clemson Experimental Forest has a new poster-size map available for $10 at the Fran Hanson Discovery Center in the South Carolina Botanical Garden.

The Forest is a 17,500-acre sustainable managed resource certified by the American Tree Farm System and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, verified by third-party auditors. Its staff and management operations are funded completely through timber harvests.

“We are very proud of our certifications and hope to showcase them on our website,” said Russell Hardee, forest manager. “While the Clemson Experimental Forest has long been an outdoor teaching laboratory for students studying forest science, it has largely been underutilized, especially for other disciplines. We are hopeful this website will help us get the word out to other colleges and departments, as well as others, about this tremendous resource right here adjacent to campus.”

Improvements to the website were made by Clemson students Ken Parker and Tanner Parsons as part of the University Professional Internship/Co-op Program. Both said this project enhanced what they had been learning while pursuing their degrees.

“The most valuable thing I obtained in doing this project would have to be the experience with professional communication and collaboration,” said Parker, a sophomore from Lake City who is the content editor for the site. “I believe our team did a great job of pulling together resources to make this site the best that it could be.”

Parsons provided analytics, which were used to determine what site visitors were interested in and how to best reach them.

“I’m interested in marketing research, so it is important for me to begin to understand data and make assumptions off of that data,” said Parsons, a junior from Windermere, Florida. “It is extremely useful for me to get that kind of experience with this internship.”

Parker used the data to aid him in the design process.

“I learned how to optimize a website’s search engine ratings while making it much more user friendly and appealing,” Parker said. “Step one is to get users to our site, but then we have to be able to keep them there.”