Clemson Partners with America’s State Parks on Innovative New Webinar Series

August 15, 2019

More than 140 park leaders in 40 states and one Canadian province recently signed up for the first installment of an interactive new webinar series developed by Clemson’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management department and the National Association of State Park Directors.

The webinar series leads discussions about key issues affecting state park leaders. Every webinar starts with an overview of academic research about the topic and on-the-ground examples of how the issue is being addressed in different parts of the country. Participants use that information to frame a dialogue about what solutions are working in their state and challenges they are still facing.

Professor of Practice Phil Gaines and Associate Professor Matt Brownlee delivering the webinar on July 29, 2019.

Clemson PRTM Professor of Practice Phil Gaines and Associate Professor Matt Brownlee delivering the webinar on July 29, 2019.

“We’re excited to blend the academic knowledge of our Clemson University team with the expertise of leaders of America’s State Parks to develop and deliver an interactive, engaging and timely webinar series,” said Wayne Freimund, Chair of the Clemson’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management department. “We’re also switching up the traditional webinar model to create something that makes sure everyone is engaged, contributing to and benefiting from the discussion.”

The first webinar on July 29 focused on capacity issues, including a case study from Maryland State Parks. An overview of current research was provided by Clemson University Associate Professor Dr. Matt Brownlee. Phil Gaines, Professor of Practice and retired South Carolina State Park Director, then led a discussion about how different states can balance creating a positive experience for visitors, while also protecting state-managed resources. The webinar was recorded and uploaded to the Clemson PRTM YouTube channel.

Linda Lanterman, President of NASPD and current Director of Kansas State Parks, says the new approach helps the association’s members come together without having to leave their park sites.

“Opportunities to share information, and discuss ideas and innovations are the cornerstone of our organization,” says Lanterman. “Having the chance to use technology to examine current issues and challenges in an engaging format is appealing, particularly with limitations on travel and time.”

Now that the first webinar is complete, the partners are working together to find ways to keep the webinars interactive and engaging for 100 participants – and provide opportunities for everyone to contribute to the discussion in a meaningful way.

Freimund says this is a good problem to have.

“The first webinar demonstrated a clear need for this type of programming,” says Freimund. “Now we need to work on refining the system to ensure these webinars can be engaging, relevant, and informative for larger groups of people.”