Indiana University students explore regional agritourism potential

Public relations students conduct agritourism opinion surveys and plan promotional strategies


Carl Nelson


Jacob Simpson, Marshall Curry


Purdue Extension - Orange County, Paoli, IN
Community Size
19,646 (2019 Census Estimation)
Indiana University
Sustaining Hoosier Communities
Case Type
Project Stories
Public Relations
EPA Region 5, USA
Sustainable Development Goals
12 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.

Sustaining Hoosier Communities Contact Info
Jane Rogan
Sustaining Hoosier Communities Director
(812) 855-0568

Indiana University Faculty Contact Info
Esi Thompson
812-855 -1726

Read the full story of the partnership.

Read the final student report delivered to the local gov/community partner.


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