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ISU Helps Develop Agritourism Plans For Communities

Indiana State University (ISU) has created a program to assist communities throughout the state in developing plans to grow agritourism in their areas.

Agritourism is a growing industry in Indiana as more rural communities establish U-pick farms, scenic byway tours and wineries. Other examples are agriculture festivals, roadside markets and camping and hiking destinations.

The Indiana Rural Recreation Development Project (InRRDP) was developed in 2005 by Nathan Schaumleffel, assistant professor of recreation and sport management at ISU, as a way for rural communities to combat population decreases through the economic impact of agritourism.

“Well-developed agritourism systems in rural areas have the potential to reverse negative economic trends by bringing in visitors and creating new jobs and local business ventures for rural residents,” Schaumleffel and ISU graduate Melissa Ramsey wrote in an article in the fall 2006 issue of Indiana Business Review.

Schaumleffel says rural communities must work together to attract tourists. He says touring rural areas can offer many benefits to the individual , as well as the community itself.

The InRRDP first worked with the town of Rockville, helping the town conduct a Recreation and Leisure Needs Assessment for Teens. After months of research and field work, the assessment found area teens wanted more recreational sport opportunities outside of competitive high school sports and the town responded by purchasing and installing a soccer field.

Schaumleffel says the InRRDP is currently working with Clay City to develop a master plan for parks and recreation.

Schaumleffel is also hosting on November 30 a free rural recreational development training workshop for park and town board members, non-profit and faith-based leaders and extension agents from communities of 7,000 residents or less.

Topics to be covered include sustainable community recreation development, Indiana state laws for parks and recreation, master planning, playground safety and funding opportunities.

Other speakers include: Brian Blackford of the Indiana Office of Tourism Development, Bob Bronson of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Kathleen Welssenberger of the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and Greg Delp of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development.

For more information:
Click here for the ISU press release.
Click here for more information about Nathan Schaumleffel.

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