Youth Engagement through Web Design

Another one of my projects this summer is collaborating with the Education Youth Volunteer Engagement team and youth programs to implement general website improvements. The National Parks of Boston (NPB) Youth website is where you can find information on The National Parks of Boston youth programs and other opportunities. The NPB is home to some Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) programs, which is a “summer youth employment program that engages young people in meaningful work experiences at national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and fish hatcheries while developing an ethic of environmental stewardship and civic responsibility.” Some YCC programs at the National Parks of Boston are Hill to Harbor Corps and Storytellers in Parks. The NBPYouth website has more information about the programs and is also home to blog posts and work done by youth in these programs.

Some general improvements included making the website more youth-friendly, populating the website with new photos, and meeting with the YCC program supervisor, Michelle, to discuss any other changes needed. The website was in pretty good shape before I started working on it, but lacked things that reflect and represent who the EYVE team and youth programs are. Some of the language and vocabulary used to describe programs were hard to understand, especially when trying to engage youth. The pictures on the website were outdated, and overall, it was not easy to separate programs and pages from each other since the website showcases more than just youth programming. People also use the website to apply for YCC programs and internships or sign up as a volunteer. My goal was to help get the website where we wanted it to be and to make changes so that it would be inviting and engaging for the youth.

Starting a whole website from scratch was not an option since we still wanted parts of it to be up and running over the summer. Instead of starting new, I worked with what we already had. The first change I made was on the homepage. There was nowhere on the website that described who we are as a team and our connection with the youth programs and other opportunities, so I added a photo of our team and a little ‘About Us’ blurb. I also wanted the youth presence to be at the center of the website, so I added a side widget running on the right of the homepage of all the youth blogs. Now, when someone posts a blog, the sidebar updates, and people can easily access and read about youth experiences in programs. Next, I created subpages for the youth in the Storytellers in Parks program so that each youth employee has a page where they can showcase their work and introduce themselves. I think it’s important that each youth have a personal page to showcase their work, not only for themselves but for family, friends, future employment opportunities, etc. It’s also a great way to show youth interested in applying to Storyteller in Parks a better idea of what the program is and what projects they may be working on in the future. 

Lastly, to populate the website with new and updated material on Hill to Harbor and Storytellers in parks, I spent one day with each program and took photos of them to show what youth in these programs do on a typical work day. I then uploaded them onto each program’s landing page and created an image carousel that automatically plays.

As my internship comes to a close, I will continue to work on the website populating content on the Storytellers in Parks page and helping post youth blogs. I hope to leave the website in a better place than before and exchange my knowledge of web design with the EYVE team, so they can continue to upkeep the website.

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