Indiana University students explore regional agritourism potential
Public relations students conduct agritourism opinion surveys and plan promotional strategies
CommunityPurdue Extension - Orange County, Paoli, IN
Community Size19,646 (2019 Census Estimation)
ProgramSustaining Hoosier Communities
Case TypeIndividual Project
RegionEPA Region 5, USA
Sustainable Development Goals12 Responsible Consumption and Production
Orange County is a rural southern Indiana county comprising four incorporated towns and a number of unincorporated communities. Residents are intent on celebrating the county’s industrial roots, natural beauty, and historic architecture while embracing and preparing for the future. Local progress is driven in large part by “grassroots cooperative leadership” (Report, Pg. 4), while legal and medical non-profits provide essential communal services. This community-oriented mentality lends itself to innovative partnerships between various actors working towards common goals in areas like infrastructure, culture, tourism, and healthcare.
Regional stakeholders set their sights on a promising industry
Home to a growing local foods system and thriving tourism industry, Orange County is well-suited for agritourism. Seeking to explore this exciting industry, regional stakeholders reached out to Indiana University and Purdue Extension, an educational network of specialists and volunteers located across Indiana which offers research based expertise on topics like agriculture, natural resources, and community development.
Student researchers assess the market and craft a strategy
Through the Sustaining Hoosier Communities (SHC) program, Purdue Extension partnered with students in Dr. Esi Thompson’s public relations planning and research class in the Media School. Working with community partner Abby Heidenreich of Purdue, student participants were challenged to understand the agritourism market. This required administering surveys and conducting interviews with farmers and tourists in order to shed light on public perception and devising promotional strategies from the data.
A fruitful collaboration brings a complicated vision to life
Project participants delivered a comprehensive analysis of the market landscape. By surveying public opinion, Thompson’s students were able to get a clear sense of regional supply and demand. Moreover, the student-developed promotional strategies, informed by survey data, promise to guide future marketing efforts. Their work helped to lay the foundation for a potentially lucrative enterprise.
With its pastoral vistas and natural beauty, Orange County lends itself to the burgeoning agritourism industry. Given the kind of advance planning students were able to provide, regional farmers, stakeholders, and residents could benefit immensely from the bountiful resources they already possess.
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