As my final days as a Parks and Recreation Intern came to a close, I decided it would be a neat and insightful project to administer a survey regarding the New Hampshire State Parks. The goal of the survey was to understand more about what New Hampshire State Parks mean to a target age demographic of 18-29 years olds.
Nestled in the White Mountains and close to a wide array of outdoor activities including state parks, Plymouth State University (PSU) seemed like an ideal place to conduct just such a marketing research project.
Before administering the survey, I assumed the majority of PSU students were not familiar with the state park system in New Hampshire. This is because many PSU students do not venture far from campus during the school week or weekend due to variety of factors.
There were a total of 100 students who answered the questions in the survey, which I distributed throughout two weeks in mid-February of 2013. The surveys were passed out both in my college classes and in the Hartman Union Building (Student Center).
Here are the survey questions I asked and the results:
Have you ever visited a NH State Park? (Check one)
Analyzing this first question, one can see that the wide majority of PSU students have attended a NH State Park in their lifetime. Although, this does not necessarily mean they attended a park while they were attending Plymouth State University.
If yes, in what region is the park located? (Check all that apply)
While the majority of PSU student have been to either the White Mountains, Lakes Region, or both when they attended a state park, many of the students have also been to a park in other regions of New Hampshire. The Seacoast seemed to be the third most popular region to visit followed by Monadnock, Merrimack, and the Great North Woods.
If no, please tell why you have never been to a NH State Park below? (Check all that apply)
Of the small number of PSU students who have never attended a state park, the main reason for them never having visiting one was because they were not familiar with the NH State Park system. The “Other” reasons they have never attended a park are that they do not reside in New Hampshire or they are more of an indoor type of person.
What is the farthest you are willing to travel to visit a state park? (Check one)
While the majority of PSU students are willing to travel between 20 to 40 miles to a state park, those willing to travel more than 40 miles was not far behind. There seemed to be a strong correlation between those who said they have never been to a state park and those only willing to travel less than 20 miles to a State Park.
What feature would most attract you to a NH State Park? (Check one)
Hiking trails is the number one feature that would attract PSU students to a state park, closely followed by mountains, and water bodies. The “Other” number one features that would attract students are skate parks and snowmobile trails.
How would you prefer to get information about NH State Parks? (Check all that apply)
Social Media including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were definitely the most popular forms of media that students would use to find out about state parks. This was closely followed by word of mouth and nhstateparks.org.
What are your favorite forms of outdoor recreation activity in NH? (Check all that apply)
Looking at the above graph, data suggests that no single form of outdoor recreation held overwhelming majority over the rest. Although, hiking, camping, and kayaking led the way for the favorite forms of outdoor recreation among PSU students. For the 16 surveyors who checked “Other” there was a wide range of activities they mentioned including snowboarding, skateboarding, snowmobiling, fishing, x-country skating, swimming, horseback riding, and water skiing.
Where do you typically go for outdoor recreation? (Check all that apply)
The White Mountains was the number one spot where PSU students recreate. Closely followed by the Lakes Region and Near my Residence which got the same percentage of votes. “Other” was such places as where ever the trip takes me, my camp, the water, and the ocean.
In conclusion, the results demonstrated that the PSU community has been to a variety of state park locations and recreates outside in various ways. Results also indicate that there is plenty of room to increase the number PSU students who visit NH State Parks and among those who have already visited to increase the frequency of their visitations.
A common perception among students was that state parks in NH are only summer destinations – a point which I was happy to point out is untrue and are great places to attend in all four seasons.
For the minority of students who have not attended a state park for the reason of “not familiar with NH State Parks” my suggestion is for those informed on state parks to spread the word, as that is the second most popular form of receiving information on state parks among this young adult demographic. Also, I would like to see the PSU community introduced to the NH State Park Web Page and Facebook Page. Third, I would love to see more people being introduced to blogs (As a blogger myself!), as they are a great way to discover parks from other people’s first hand experience with them.
If the majority of students are willing to travel 20 to 40 miles or the White Mountains/Lakes Region then there is plenty of opportunity for them to experience a state park!
Take the survey below (click on link) to see how your outdoor activity compares!
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