Fish and lake stories wanted for Otter Tail County projects

Fish and lake stories are being collected for the Otter Tail County Story Mapping Project.

Adobe Stock Art
Adobe Stock Art

If you live in Otter Tail County the chances are high that you have a story revolving around one of the county’s 1,000-plus lakes. Local educator and historian Jan Smith is in the process of documenting these stories as part of the Otter Tail County Story Mapping Project, a collaborative project between Rethos, the Otter Tail County Historical Society, and Springboard for the Arts, said a news release from l ocal educator and historian Jan Smith.

The project, "Otter Tail County's 1,000 Lakes (and more ponds) Have Stories to Tell" is collecting stories of all kinds from those who use lakes throughout Otter Tail County. The hope is that these stories will encourage reflection and sharing of great fishing stories, family memories, or personal anecdotes about memorable events centering on lakes. By placing story collection boxes around Otter Tail County Smith hopes to elicit reflections on the relationships to lakes that so many, young and old, share throughout the county. In addition to inclusion on the larger project story map, the stories will be compiled into a PowerPoint presentation to promote lake activity and fishing in Otter Tail County and will be available to organizations looking for lake-based programming. To incentivize participation prizes will be awarded for the best stories submitted.

Stories can be submitted either by email to . Photos are also accepted but not required.

The Otter Tail County Story Mapping Project is a pilot project by Rethos: Places Reimagined in partnership with the Otter Tail County Historical Society and Springboard for the Arts. The purpose of this project is to collect and map the stories of Otter Tail County by engaging community members through small projects led by local organizations, historians, artists, students, businesses, etc. The story map will then become a local resource for Otter Tail County that may assist the following: economic development strategies, pathways to safeguarding heritage resources, future philanthropic investment, planning and other policy decisions and promotion, and partnerships and connections.

Otter Tail County residents participated in community story workshops in January 2020 and digital workshops throughout 2020, where they learned about what story mapping is, methods of gathering community stories, and project ideas ranging from one-on-one conversations to more creative and public-facing projects. Four rounds of submissions have been held, from which story mapping partners and their projects were chosen. Projects vary in topic and presentation, with participants encouraged to do any sort of creative initiative that will result in the collection of stories. This includes highly personal narratives or publically engaged events and projects.


Please visit for more information and updates on the completed story map of every project available in July.

For questions about this project, please contact Tyler McDaniel at .

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