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Maryland State Park Advisory Commission Presents Goucher College with Award of Excellence

pacThe Governor’s Park Advisory Commission today presented Goucher College’s Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center with the Award of Excellence for its dedication and passionate commitment to the well being of Maryland State Parks. The team of students and teachers created and conducted a poll that gathered valuable information on Maryland State Park visitor experience.

“Working with the Maryland Park Service on this project was a tremendous experience for our students and it is simply wonderful to see Goucher’s commitment to experiential learning translated into useful policy research,” the Center’s Director Dr. Mileah Kromer. “We are elated to receive this award.”

Dr. Kromer and students involved with the project accepted the award on behalf of Goucher at the college in Baltimore. The information collected through the poll − Resident Perception of Maryland State Parks: An Analysis of Use, Activities, Goals, and Barriers to Visitation − allows park staff to better understand its guests and their interests as they continuously work to enhance the visitor experience at Maryland’s 66 State Parks.

“We are thrilled to present Goucher College with this award,” said Commission Chair Tim Casey. “Their hard work and professional polling methods have produced reliable information and new opportunities to understand visitors’ perceptions and expectations. The Goucher Poll represents a valued and unique tool for continuous State Park progress.”

The poll was conducted last October by the Center, housed by Goucher College’s Department of Political Science and International Relations, and carried out in cooperation with the Maryland Park Service via random digit dialing of a stratified random sample and queried 665 Maryland residents via telephone. In addition to providing insight into the perception and use of Maryland State Parks, the poll also provided students experience working with and providing results to a government agency.

Noteworthy results that came from interviewing Maryland residents include:

  • They are most likely to participate in visiting historic sites, followed by hiking and fishing;
  • Those with children living at home are more likely to visit a Maryland State Park over the next year than those without;
  • Nearly 70 percent have visited a Maryland State Park at least once over the past year, with 16 percent visiting more than 10 times;
  • 82 percent of residents who visited a Maryland State Park over the past year gave their experience high marks;
  • Lack of free time was the most frequently cited barrier to visitation across all Marylanders.

Launched in 2001 by former Governor Paris Glendening, the Park Advisory Commission consists of 12 members who work to develop recommendations on an ongoing basis for the Governor and the Secretary of Natural Resources, and propose new or enhanced strategies that improve and promote the Maryland State Park system.