Q+A with Washington Department of Natural Resources’ social media team

They post all of our favorite memes.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources social media team is photoshopped crudely on top of an image of a fire truck.

These are obviously serious people we’re dealing with. (Mary is the sixth from the right inside the truck and Rachel is the ninth).

Photo via Washington Department of Natural Resources

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Thanks for the meme-ories. In case you haven’t noticed, the Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR)of all places — is consistently making our sides split on social media.

Not only are the mushroom zodiac postsand inspirational salmon quotes hilarious, we’re learning a lot, too, about what how to better protect our lands and wildlife.

Meet two of WDNR’s social media managers Rachel Terlep and Mary Watkins.

How do you all come up with this stuff?

Mary: I find inspiration just while I’m scrolling on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. But it will also hit me when I’m doing something random like exercising, or when I’m hanging out with my kids. And I just think, oh, this could be a catchy Instagram post or this could be funny on Twitter.

Rachel: Yeah, same thing, honestly. But also, we’re responsible for a lot of different portfolios here. We’re covering wildfire, geologic hazards, forestry, etc. And someone from those teams will come to us and say that they need help getting information about, say, prescribed fire out, so we have to then figure out how to make that funny. We have big brainstorming sessions and luckily, we have a really funny team here.

Why use this method to communicate?

Rachel: We’re trying to stand out between the memes and the funny dog videos. If we’re just using that same standard, bureaucratic, boring information in-between those tweets that are competing for attention, people are going to look right over them. We have to speak in the language that people are used to seeing their messages in.

Mary: Yeah, I think that humor really sticks with people. Like if you see a funny post about recreation and then you’re hiking, and you pass a bag of dog poop on the trail. You might think of that funny post that we made about the starving trash cans and pick it up. I think that humor is a really great, subtle way to remind people of the important messages that we need to tell.

Washington DNR Salmon Meme

This is our new motto.

Screenshot via Washington Department of Natural Resources

What’s your favorite meme that you’ve made?

Rachel: I’m a really big fan of the salmon one we just put out. I also really likeone that we did back in June, that we re-upped recently. It’s a fake text conversation between our boss and me about trying to come up with fun recreational responsibility messages. And we suggest something like “Respect these lands or catch these hands.” Our boss replies with, “No, we can’t threaten people on Twitter.”

Mary: Yeah, she took my top two. I love scrolling back through our past content. It just always makes me laugh.

Any other accounts that have your heart?

Rachel: I think government is just now entering the sphere of speaking the language of the users. Some of the accounts that really stood out to me are the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, TSA, WSDOT, and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

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