College of the Rockies Tourism Students Conduct Research for Community Forest

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Image shows smiling man in glasses standing next to a tree and shrubs
College of the Rockies Tourism and Recreation Management instructor, Grant Unger.

College of the Rockies Tourism and Recreation Management students assisted the Cranbrook Community Forest Society (CCFS) recently by conducting research on forest usage.

The CCFS recognized that there is considerable use of the community forest but did not have data on this use or what individuals are using the forest for, information they need for funding applications.  As the College’s Tourism and Recreation Management students had an assignment which required them to learn how to gather primary research data, analyze it and present results, they worked with the CCFS to begin the collection of data, a process the Society hopes to continue in the future.

As a result of the collaboration, the Tourism and Recreation Management students designed a survey tool and worked with the CCFS Board of Directors to refine it.  They then gathered data from online surveys, in-person interviews and one focus group. The results were presented as part of the fulfilment requirement for their program and then were given to the CCFS Board.

“The students did a great job and actually expanded the project beyond our original request,” says Todd Hebert, CCFS Board member.  “We now have a good sense on how we might engage better with our members and users into the future and have also identified some important concerns that they have.  This will provide the Board with ideas for future planning.”

A summary of the students’ results will be presented by the CCFS Board at the Society’s Annual General Meeting May 17.  All those interested in hearing the results are invited to attend at 7 pm in the College’s Lecture Theatre (room 250).

“This was a great opportunity for the type of community – College collaboration in research that we’re excited to engage in,” says Gaby Zezulka, Chair of Academic Innovation and Applied Research.

Tourism instructor Grant Unger agrees. “Meeting community needs while giving our students practical assignments they can see the results of in their own backyards is a win-win opportunity for everyone.”

Anyone interested in proposing future research projects with the College should contact Gaby Zezulka, at gzezulka@cotr.bc.ca or 250-489-8287.