A&S student researchers helping river towns drive tourism and economic development
As part of an honors class, a group of undergraduate students studied — through interviews, research and first-hand experience — how towns like New Albany, Clarksville and Jeffersonville, Indiana, benefit from and can better promote kayaking, concerts and other riverside activities.
They worked with the U.S. National Park Service – Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program to conduct river town reviews. The program’s team effort approach to looking with “fresh eyes on enhancing tourism and outdoor recreation” helped these communities explore how they can further realize the benefits of the Ohio River and the development of the 270 mile Ohio River Recreation Trail from Portsmouth, Ohio to West Point, Kentucky.
“I think the main takeaway is that there is so much potential for the Ohio River and the communities that surround it,” said Forest Clevenger, a political science major who worked on the project. “By focusing on recreation, it not only reinvigorates the economies of these communities, but it makes it so that conservation (of rivers) is an economic asset and something that is supported.”
The results of the students’ research, including observations, models, maps and photos from their trips to the Ohio River Greenway, currently are on display at the main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library (LFPL). The exhibit, “River of Life: Cities and Towns Along the Mighty Ohio,” is expected to run through the summer.
“The students’ work in this exhibit uses photos and explorations to understand past initiatives that encouraged river recreation,” said David Wicks, who taught the class and also is director of River City Paddle Sports. “They put a lot of work into this and it really shows. Their work could help shed new light on the role of rivers – how they shape and grow our towns.”
More information on the exhibit, including sponsor listing, is available on the library website