in the news (145)

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june 2017 | by susan jurasz

Sometimes a project is so straightforward, it offers a welcome respite between the more demanding ones. The National Park Service required large metal letters and a shield to be fabricated and installed over the two entrances into the visitor center at the Badlands National Park outside Wall, South Dakota. The project required letters (10" and 15" tall) to be cut from 0.5" aluminum and mounted with a NPS arrowhead above the doors of a single story, stucco building.

We met with Lauren, our NPS representative, the first day on site and all agreed that given weather report of impending snow, we should do our best to get the work done in one day, rather than the planned two. And so, with the brilliant blue, cloudless sky overhead, we put a push on it. Thank goodness we did! We woke up the next morning to the striking golds, oranges and reds of the painted hills all covered in white. The dramatic colors of the eroding hills were now muted to such a degree that all you could see was texture. It was interesting seeing in the space of twenty-four hours such a dynamic change. We toured the Park as soft snowflakes fell and the wildlife ventured closer, to the now quiet, road.

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june 2017 | by cory schott

An estuary is a natural meeting place. Here the sea and freshwater mix at the mouth of a river and plants and animals adapt to the daily rhythm of the tides. And on a rainy day in April, the Sea Reach team met with stakeholders at the Salmon River Estuary near Cascade Head on the lush and dynamic Oregon coast. After decades of restoration efforts, the Salmon Drift Creek Watershed Council is ready to celebrate and showoff their work with an interpretive site that explains the importance of the Salmon River Estuary.

The site presents some challenges: it is narrow, the trail is short, and it feels more like a rest stop, with restrooms and picnic tables taking the center stage, than it does an important vantage onto an ecologically rich, newly restored natural system. So Sea Reach got to work defining and designing a "visitor experience" that we hope inspires the awe and appreciation that we have developed for this site since we began the project.

After several weeks of work, Sea Reach and the Watershed Council held a "public meeting" to show off the conceptual design. More than 30 people showed up at the site. It was a typical, soggy morning on the coast. Dressed in raingear and hoping for the best, Sea Reach presented the design with a series of full-size cardboard mock-ups to give the public and stakeholders a preview of the new exhibits.

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june 2017 | by kelly crees

The combined efforts of a group of people. Especially when successful.

A simple enough word and concept, but a more uncommon phenomenon in business than one might think. As I look back over my 30+ year work history — from working as a laborer on a construction crew, to coaching a high school soccer team, to planning and overseeing the operations of major event — bringing together people with different backgrounds, interests, and ambitions to work towards a common goal is always one of the key pillars of success.

In my first quarter as Operations Manager at Sea Reach I have begun to measure our current business environment using several different metrics. I find opportunities for improved efficiencies and streamline processes to better serve our clients and our staff members. As a part of this process I have been impressed by something that is not a "Hard Number" or a measurable and that is the high level of teamwork exhibited by the Sea Reach staff.

To a person, the team members here at Sea Reach exhibit the behaviors and attitudes of a successful team. They all are concerned with the impact of their role on the quality of the product that reaches the customer. Their single mindedness about quality has created a bond that is literally the definition of Teamwork. I look forward to contributing to this great team.

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june 2017 | by leia reedijk

Serene blue water, warm sun, and white sand beaches—a welcome respite from the wind and rain back home. In this setting it’s easy to forget we are on a business trip. We are in the U.S. Virgin Islands developing wayside exhibits for the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John—over 25,000 acres of protected habitat on land and underwater. For four nights we "roughed it" at an eco-resort perched on a hillside overlooking the ocean. In the mornings, we took lukewarm showers and watched the sun rise over of the water; in the evenings, the stars lit up the black sky and the creatures of the forest came alive. We listened to their trilling as we drifted off to sleep. It was the perfect way to experience the island.

Though St. John feels like paradise and most people come to relax and recreate, the park is an important part of a fragile ecosystem and there are many layers of natural and cultural history that most visitors aren’t aware of. For example, there were once over 100 sugar plantations on the 7-mile-long island all built by enslaved people and, when the sugar industry collapsed, the cattle industry boomed and there were more cows than people!

The most important message though was one of conservation and preservation—this was nearest to the hearts of those who live and work on St. John. They are more aware than anyone of the impact we are having on the ecosystem, of the warming waters, the quickly disappearing corals, and the many other species that will diminish along with them. With nearly 500,000 visitors every year the question of the moment is: how do we mitigate our impact? How do we make people change their behavior? How do we make them care about the future of this precious habitat?

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may 2017 | by allison kogler

We recently finished installing interactive exhibits at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon. Among the interactive exhibits is: a large mechanical jaw which squeezes a small fish until its eyes pop out; a set of "guess the predator’s prey item" spinning wheels; and a larger interactive featuring a robotic remote-operated vehicle (ROV) and custom circuitry for playing audio messages and illuminating lights on deep-sea fish sculptures.

The ROV interactive is among some of Sea Reach’s newer projects that feature elements of audio, light, and electromechanical motion. We use extremely small self-contained computers to mediate the interaction between visitor and the simulated deep-sea environment. We’re able to quickly prototype and customize the interaction, adding lights and sounds where we see fit. The ROV interactive uses several separate microcontrollers distributing the tasks of the interaction: one microcontroller to manage the audio, one to manage lighting the fish, one to manage the electromechanical system of the ROV, and one to listen for input from the buttons and control all the others. When a visitor pushes a button on the console, the master device wakes up the other devices and tells them which button was pushed, and suddenly the deep-sea environment comes to life.

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april 2017 | by jacob cordova-krahn

Having the chance to get out of the office with Ira (our shop foreman) on a site visit was fun as well as productive! We met up with our clients, Ann and Ivan, to stake locations for the interpretive panels. I loved seeing where each design would be displayed along the trail. With some assistance from Ira, I created my first installation package, which started with taking photos of each exhibit location and marking them on a map—we did a lot of walking that day!

Having the opportunity to see this project finally come to fruition has been a real reward. Being the first larger project I’ve had the opportunity to manage from start to finish, I grew a lot as a designer, and as a project manager. These unique exhibits truly capture the spirit of Hazelia Agri-cultural Trail in Lake Oswego, Oregon. I also got to design and produce a walking brochure to accompany the exhibits.

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december 2016 | by jason piper

I have recently joined the team here at Sea Reach and it has been an exciting adventure already! There are many different creative projects happening on a daily basis and it’s awesome to work with such a talented group.

Shortly after I was hired, Sea Reach purchased a CnC router to expand capabilities and have tighter control of the manufacturing process. Thankfully, I have a lot of experience operating this particular piece of equipment—I ran it for the past 5 years at my old job.

We set up the 5’ x 10’ CnC router table in our new space just down the street from our main office (which now also houses a full wood shop). We installed all the appropriate electrical outlets and muscled the hefty machine into place. I got everything connected and the computer communicating with the CnC control box and router again.

I had the CnC dialed in just in time to start production on a big project: a visitor center for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. I have worked on this CnC a lot, but I’ve mostly cut different types of wood, so this project was particularly interesting and fun because I cut different types of acrylic.

In the end, I cut out 36 sheets of material:
3 sheets of brown cast acrylic to make 38 wood ants
8 sheets of OSB for foliage and canopies that we then sanded, sprayed, and faux painted
25 sheets of clear cast acrylic that had tree canopy graphics laminated in our print studio.

It was a fantastic first run with the CnC in the new shop and I am looking forward to learning more about how to use the machine to cut all the unique signs that we design here at Sea Reach and also see what other creative outlets are possible. Stoked to be a part of the Sea Reach team!

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december 2016 | by jacob cordova-krahn

One thing that I enjoy about working at Sea Reach is getting the opportunity to explore a multitude of illustration styles. Tight and controlled, you ask? Sure thing. Or perhaps we want to see a more loose and expressive representation? I’m on it. Whatever it may be, I enjoy the challenge of adapting to new styles, which keeps things fresh around here!

An example of this can be seen in a recent project that I worked on. For the River Ridge trail in Tualatin, Oregon I thought it would be interesting to showcase two different styles... in the same panel! I got to experiment with digital watercolor layered over a pencil sketch, which offered an almost painted look. This was juxtaposed with a cleaner and refined style in the sidebar, offering a peak into another world. I enjoyed mixing the styles and hope to do some more experimentation in the future.

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december 2016 | by alex ogle

Peter and I recently trekked out to the Abraham Lincoln National Park in Hodgenville, Kentucky to check-in on one of our recent projects. This installation is particularly exciting because it engages the visual, auditory, and tactile senses. That’s because this exhibit is intended for the seeing-impaired. More importantly, this project is intended to set a new standard for how the National Park Service offers experiences that are as accessible as possible.

With a 3D printed braille panel from Stratasys, visitors are able to gather information about the trails without needing to see. In addition, the exhibit has buttons that activate an audio message about the conditions of the trail. The best part is that the audio unit recharges via a solar panel installed on the back.

Besides making a few final changes to the exhibit, we were able to enjoy something Kentucky is well known for: juices from fermented grain mash! We traveled to a nearby distillery and learned how whiskey gets made in Kentucky. But what good is knowing how something is made unless you can apply that knowledge? No worries folks, we made sure to apply that knowledge by doing some sampling!

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november 2016 | by kathy hocker

You are hungry. The scent of fresh salmon saturates the air, pulls you down the riverbank. There are many humans standing in the river, lined up and waving thin sticks in the air—but you’ve learned not to fear them; you just walk on by.

The salmon here are fast and strong—hard to catch. But just downstream, three fat fish lie dead, gleaming in the shallows. The nearest human is far away, across the river—so you take a chance. The human shouts as you move in and pick up a fish. To your surprise, the other two fish come along as well—they’re tied together! Dragging your prize into the bushes, you ignore the shouting humans; you’ve learned not to fear them. In fact, you’ve now learned that humans provide food: you just need to watch for them to leave their fish and walk away.

Later this summer, you will startle a human into dropping a backpack, and inside it you will find delicious things. Next summer, you will teach your cub to take fish and food from humans.

The summer after that, you will be shot.

Each summer, tens of thousands of people descend on a tiny stretch of Alaska’s Russian River to fish for red (sockeye) salmon. The anglers create fish waste (filleted carcasses), which attracts bears.

The US Forest Service, which manages the site, has issued special orders to help reduce fish waste and protect people and bears. But it can be hard to get those rules across to anglers. Eager to get to the river NOW, they tend to rush past the regulation posting boards. The messages are lost, and the dangerous cycle of "feeding" the bears continues.

Sea Reach’s task at the Russian River is to help create interpretation that "fish blinders" can’t filter out—to deliver those critical messages so all visitors arrive at the river prepared. It’s challenge! But it’s a task that will help keep people—and bears—safer.

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