A campaign launched earlier this month by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is grabbing people’s attention through comical videos, quizzes and other online content focused on the Maine outdoors. Entirely digital, this campaign is a new approach by the DIF&W to better communicate their mission with the general public.
“There’s no real secret that one of our challenges as an agency is communication with people and figuring out more innovative ways to get our message out,” said Judy Camuso, DIF&W wildlife director. “We’re actively trying to step up our game a little bit.”
The campaign invites people to become “Keepers of the Maine Outdoors” by exploring a new website, keeperofthemaineoutdoors.org, and signing up for the Keeper of the Maine Outdoors newsletter, which will contain information about current DIF&W projects and programs. Those who sign up for the newsletter are also entered into a drawing for a weekly prize pack.
But the crowning jewel of the campaign website, in my opinion, is the “Keeper Scenarios” page, which currently hosts three videos featuring Camuso and Maine Game Warden Kris MacCabe, star of the hit reality TV show “North Woods Law.” The videos, produced by a professional ad agency, are quick hits on three outdoorsy topics: hiking preparedness, birding and invasive species.
The videos are short, informative and comical. In fact, if you don’t laugh at at least one, I’d be surprised.
In each video, a professional actor plays the part of “Todd,” a goofy young man trying to embrace the Maine outdoors in various ways. And in each scenario, Camuso and MacCabe do their best to help. In the process, they communicate little bits of information about the DIF&W and its programs.
Keep in mind that Camuso and MacCabe are not professional actors. Camuso is a state biologist, director of the state’s wildlife division. And while MacCabe has been around cameras plenty for the show “North Woods Law,” he’s no actor either. He’s a Maine game warden who has expressed to the BDN multiple times that he doesn’t particularly enjoy being in the spotlight. So it’s fun to watch this duo interact with Todd, the professional actor, as he acts like a complete goose. Neither Camuso or MacCabe can keep a straight face. In fact, Camuso can often be caught laughing. It just seems like they’re having fun, and that really adds to the humor of the videos, I think.
“We didn’t want to just do more of what we currently do, we wanted to do it differently,” said Camuso of the video series.
I’m not the only one who finds these video entertaining. Hosted by Youtube, the “Keeper of the Maine Outdoors – Invasive Fish Species” video already has more than 8,000 views.
The campaign website, keeperofthemaineoutdoors.org, was launched in line with the release of the new DIF&W’s website, mefishwildlife.com, which Camuso says is more user friendly than the former website. The goal is to make it easy for people to learn more about the work of state biologists and game wardens.
“We’ve done survey after survey where people say, ‘We think you do great work. We trust you. We support you. But we don’t really know what’s going on,’” Camuso said. “We consistently get feedback that people want to hear more from the Department … People just don’t understand the breadth of the things we work on.”
On the new DIF&W website is another growing video series, “In the Wildlife Biologists Footsteps,” that shows Maine wildlife biologists in the field, surveying deer wintering areas by aircraft and banding wood ducks.
“All of this is just to try and increase our ability to communicate and make people aware of all the various project we’re doing and ways they can get involved,” Camuso said.