FORGING CONNECTIONS AND IMPROVING UNDERSTANDING OF EARTH PROCESSES AT MOUNT ST. HELENS
Monument visitor information and education programs reveal the excitement of ongoing scientific discovery while taking advantage of the tremendous “teachable moment” at the volcano. Considerable effort has been expended to develop clear, message-based interpretive programs, films and exhibits that both inform and entertain visitors. Program success has benefited greatly from collaboration with scientists from the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory, USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station, cooperating universities and the dedicated volunteers and staff of the non-profit Mount St. Helens Institute.
Mount St. Helens provides a compelling example of how the preservation of a geological heritage site can contribute both educational and economic benefits. It is the center-piece of vital and growing tourism in the Pacific Northwest region with more than 600,000 people visiting the volcano each summer. Recent surveys confirm that Mount St. Helens visitors are among the most satisfied and best-informed of any visitors to National Forest lands across the United States. The monument also serves more than 12,000 K-12 students each year. Countless more visit the volcano online through the Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center (www.mshslc.org) and USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory websites (http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/st_helens/ ). Current efforts are focused on enhancing and extending the duration and quality of educational experiences through the development of on-site facilities and programs at the Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center (http://www.mshslc.org/about-us/).