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UMM Students Pitch New Sign Concepts to Maine Island Trail Association

Added on: April 09, 2013

MACHIAS, Maine – When the Maine Island Trail Association (MITA) decided that their more than 100 island campsite signs needed an overhaul, they turned to students in the Environmental Recreation and Tourism Management program at the University of Maine at Machias for help.

Students in professor Andrea Ednie’s Park and Recreation Facility Design class spent the last few weeks brainstorming ideas and creating conceptual layouts for MITA’s new signs, which are intended to communicate land-use guidelines to visitors.

The Maine Island Trail connects approximately 200 island and coastal sites along a 375-mile aqua trail, a popular route for sea-kayaking enthusiasts and the oldest recreational water trail in the United States. Because privately owned lands account for two-thirds of the trail sites, effective signage is a top priority for the association.

“Landowners have generously allowed use of their properties as campsites and points of interest along the trail, and they do so with the understanding that their properties will be respected and well cared for.” said Maria Jenness, stewardship manager for MITA. “These signs are one of the best ways for us to convey the usage guidelines and ‘leave no trace’ best practices to visitors, so it is important that we communicate the information effectively.”

Through feedback from trail users and recreation specialists, MITA determined that their existing signs are text-heavy, taking too long to read and burying key content within lengthy paragraphs.

After presenting his mockup of a new sign to MITA representatives recently, UMM senior Harry Thompson was thankful for the opportunity.

“It is really important to be able to tie in the concepts and ideas we learn in a classroom to real-world problems,” said Thompson. “These projects give meaning to what we have been taught.”

The project was just as beneficial to Jenness and her colleague Brian Marcaurelle, who traveled from MITA’s office in Portland for the presentations.

“The students really provided a fresh look at our signs, and came up with some ideas that hadn’t occurred to us before. We hope to take some of these concepts and suggestions and work them into our new signs,” Jenness said after the presentations.

As the only nationally accredited recreation degree program in Maine, UMM’s Environmental Recreation and Tourism Management program provides concentrations in recreation and natural resources, leisure programming, and sport and fitness management. For more information, visit


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