A full circle at SERR!!

For the past three years, I attended the Southeast Environment and Recreation Research (SERR) Conference. And as the title explains, this conference gives university undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to spend 3 days together to discuss research proposals, research findings, and overall network with one another.

In those first two years of my SERR attendance, I was a graduate student with the University of Georgia. One of my favorite parts of the conference back then was the opportunity to talk about my research with professionals like the US Forest Service (USFS). When this year came around, one of the organizers heard that I am completing a resource assistantship and asked me to attend to represent both the USFS and Environments for the Americas (EFTA). I, of course, said yes and so spent three days learning about all the current research happening within the recreation world and talking to students about their plans upon graduating. I mentioned EFTA and RAP as much as I could and thoroughly enjoyed being at SERR as a professional. Truly felt like a full circle. 

An additional highlight of the conference was seeing the undergraduate student, Julia Barfield, who interned for me, present the qualitative portion of my Masters of Science Thesis project. This project focused on analyzing gateway community residents’ perspectives to tourism and the USFS recreation management. Gateway communities are areas that border natural attractions like USFS land and typically as visitation to these Forest increase, so does the visitation to the gateway communities. This increase tourism can have both positive (e.g., economic revenue) and negative (e.g., housing shortages due to influx of airbnbs, and second home buyers) impacts on these communities. My thesis explored the impacts of this increased tourism through the perspective of residents. Within my data collection, we used both qualitative and quantitative practices. Julia Barfield took the qualitative data and analyzed major themes based on the 450 participants within the study. For SERR, she created a poster to demonstrate her findings and competed in the poster presentation portion of the conference…and she won third place!

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