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Virtual Photo Walks Visits Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

February 6, 2015

How do you share the wonders of the great outdoors with those who are unable to get outside? You combine technology, an engaging volunteer, and a volcanic World Heritage Site.

Dominic Phillips introduces Kīlauea and its summit eruption to a Virtual Photo Walk audience. NPS photo/Christa Sadler

Dominic Phillips introduces Kīlauea and its summit eruption to a Virtual Photo Walk audience. NPS photo/Christa Sadler

Earlier this week, Virtual Photo Walks photographer and volunteer Dominic Phillips “Walked the Walk for Those Who Can’t” at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Phillips shared many of the marvels found along Kīlauea volcano’s Crater Rim Trail with nearly 60 disabled individuals across North America who watched on their computer screens from their hospital beds and homes. Dominic’s cell phone camera shared robust plumes of steam wafting from ‘Ākanikōlea (Steam Vents) and Wāhinekapu (Steaming Bluffs), sweeping views of Kīlauea Caldera, and the geologic highlights of Thomas A. Jaggar Museum – all in real time. Viewers asked him if the steam felt hot as it fogged up the lens, and the names of the native plants he focused on. Phillips, outfitted with a wireless earpiece, answered their questions as he hiked along, laughing and connecting with his audience throughout the virtual experience.


The goal of Virtual Photo Walks is to provide an opportunity for those with limited mobility due to illness to view all parts of the globe through the camera lens of its many volunteers.

Phillips gives his virtual audience a glimpse of Kīlauea Caldera. NPS photo/Christa Sadler

Phillips gives his virtual audience a glimpse of Kīlauea Caldera. NPS photo/Christa Sadler

Phillips shares the heat from Wāhinekapu (Steaming Bluffs) to his virtual audience. NPS photo/Christa Sadler

Phillips shares the heat from Wāhinekapu (Steaming Bluffs) to his virtual audience. NPS photo/Christa Sadler

The author is a Student Conservation Association/AmeriCorps intern working with Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on the park’s Centennial initiatives.

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