Summer 2022


Capstone Project

Degree Name



Patty Born

Content Expert

Erin Francke


Small ecotour companies run whale-watching tours in remote, protected lagoons of Baja California Sur every winter, as gray whales migrate there to mate and give birth to their young. Often, tourists must drive for hours each way to reach the lagoons for their tour. When tourists get to the small villages that are the base camp for whale watching, their only guides are the boat captains, who do not normally speak English (the main language of tourists in the area). A non-personal interpretive guide would bridge the gap of information, so that tourists learn about the ecology, history, and culture of the area, as they drive to and from the lagoon. Learning more about the area with engaging and interactive interpretation is proven to increase the likelihood that visitors have a positive experience, become more connected to the place, and increase the likelihood that they might make conservation-based changes in their own lives. Using the plan, ecotour companies and village boat captains can learn more about community-based ecotourism that encourages sustainable growth for their community and the environment around them. This capstone project examines: How can a non-personal interpretive guide increase place attachment for visitors, encourage the appropriate development of sustainable community-based ecotourism, and increase knowledge of the desert and coastal ecosystems and migratory whales of Baja Mexico? Existing research on interpretation, culturally sustaining ecotourism, place attachment, and learning theories are the basis for the plan. A focus group was used to determine how to include information in the guide. Revisions to the original plan and guide will be made after the first season of use, and if successful, the plan and the guide can be modified as needed and used by other communities and ecotour companies in the future.

Project Type

Field Guide Project


Adult Education, Curriculum, Environmental Studies








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