Modern technology benefits historic park

When people think about agritourism, they may think about Oklahoma, but the small rural town of Shattuck probably never crosses their mind. Nestled just outside of the Oklahoma Panhandle, Shattuck is home to a unique tourist attraction. People come from all over the United States to visit the Shattuck Windmill Museum. This small town treasure has a total of 63 windmills that range in size, shape and age, the oldest of which was used in the 1850s.

Recently, Shattuck FFA Vice President Jeronimo Lara and Chairman Reese Sconyers took on a new community service project involving the windmill park. Curator Sue Ann Schoenhals contacted Shattuck FFA last spring about sprucing up some of the park’s signage as well as creating a better map for park visitors to navigate. Sconyers and Lara volunteered to take on the task, and came up with the idea to use a drone for mapping the park. Sconyers had recently purchased a DJI Mavic 2 drone, and was eager to put it to work.

Drones are becoming a common piece of equipment in agriculture, used for livestock management, crop and land scouting, weed and pest management. Drone technology is improving agriculture efficiency in many ways and is expected to continue to expand in the coming years. Increased efficiency is top priority for agriculturists due to increased population and yearly reduction in arable land. A great deal of research is currently being conducted surrounding the many benefits of drones. In fact, Oklahoma State University just announced that they will be one of five schools to share in a $32.8 billion dollar research grant from NASA that uses drone technology. Although this research focuses on the transportation sector, OSU is a leader in drone-based research, and has conducted environmental studies that impact the agriculture industry.

Sconyers and Lara will complete an aerial map with a numerical key so visitors can easily navigate their way through the park and learn about each windmill’s history. In addition to the drone mapping, they will refurbish the existing placards that label each windmill. They will be finished with the project in the spring.

This windmill park project is using drone technology to improve in-person visits to the park, but could also open the door for virtual visits. With COVID-19 keeping many travelers at home, and schools restricting field trips and travel, the park’s curators may soon decide to provide a virtual tour of their windmills. As technology advances, the possibilities for this little park in Shattuck are endless.