This article was originally published on the website of OSU's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
Written by Kurt Knebusch
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- How to boost recreation access for central Ohioans, especially young ones, is the focus of a breakfast program sponsored by the Environmental Professionals Network (EPN) from 7:15-9:20 a.m. Dec. 10 in the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive, on Ohio State University’s Columbus campus.
The program features John O’Meara, executive director of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, speaking on outdoor recreation trends and the parks’ strategic plans. Students in Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) and Fisher College of Business also will give a presentation on the viability of a new “Discovery Center for Outdoor Recreation and Education.”
SENR is part of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
David Hanselmann, the network’s coordinator and a lecturer in the school, said he first suggested the Discovery Center idea to a team of students in a SENR capstone course.
“Teams in previous semesters have explored the reasons and consequences for many young people spending less time outdoors,” he said. “I wondered if such a center could be established to allow people to easily and inexpensively try out new activities, without fear of failure -- things like stand-up paddle boarding or even fishing, if they’ve never had a chance to try it.”
Then he talked to a group of Fisher College honors student about collaborating on the project -- specifically, by looking at the development of a viable business plan.
“Both teams are excited by the idea and have worked hard to see what it would take for it to be successful,” Hanselmann said. “They’ve even evaluated the characteristics of some existing parks that could possibly host a center, and they’re exploring how to engage the private sector in a partnership.”
O’Meara is an alumnus of SENR, having earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the school. As executive director of the Columbus-area park district, he oversees the operation of 17 Metro Parks that cover more than 27,000 acres and host more than 7 million visitors annually. During his tenure, which started in 1998, the district has added six new parks totaling 13,000 acres and has experienced a 40-percent jump in visitation.
Registration for the program, which is open to the public and includes a full breakfast, is $10 or $15 person, depending on payment method. Payment by credit card is due by Dec. 6. Complete details and a link to online registration and payment are at http://go.osu.edu/YxV
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