Business Class Works on County Parks Project
Salem, Ohio – Seven business students from the Kent State Salem campus spent the past several months working on a project that could help promote the Columbiana County Park District. The students were enrolled in Dr. Dean Porr’s business consulting and practicum class this semester, and they presented their work this week to the CCPD board.
The students included Michael Bentfeld, James Brock, Ashley Martin, Dan Newlin, Taylor Pidgeon, Lisa Shoff and Dan Wade. This course is required for business students to graduate and allows them to gain practical experience working with community partners on real-life projects.
The class was charged with developing a plan for the CCPD to increase community involvement and to re-brand the parks, making them more visible in the community and offering family-oriented events. The park district includes the Greenway Bike Trail, Hellbender Bluff Park and Scenic Vista Park.
During the presentation, the students took turns sharing their research findings, as well as suggesting various ways to promote the parks throughout the county. The class suggested a new name (Columbiana County Rural Park System), new slogan (The People’s Parks) and a mascot (Heidi Hellbender).
Based on surveys conducted by the class, students shared that younger county residents are more unfamiliar with the parks and less likely to participate in the current activities. They suggested additional types of activities that would attract families and younger adults, as well as ways to market and promote the activities.
The marketing suggestions included ways to use social media, local media outlets, printed pamphlets, posters and QR codes, as well as improving the parks’ presence on the Internet. The students provided a prepared roadshow presentation that the park board can use for promotional purposes at future events.
Dr. Porr, assistant professor of management and information systems, explained that the students chose the CCPD as a community partner because one of its commissioners, Rachael Esterly, works at Kent State Salem and she had earlier expressed interest in working with students to help promote the parks. Tim McFadden, academic program director for Kent State Salem’s applied business technologies program, helped connect those involved and get the project started.
“The nice thing about a class project like this is that these students come into it without any preconceived thoughts,” Porr said. “They start with a basic premise and their work evolves into ideas that can actually be used by the business partner. The students, in turn, learn skills that they can take with them into the working world when they graduate."
Following the students’ presentation, CCPD board members engaged the students in a discussion about how to use some of their ideas and expressed appreciation for all their work.
“We are really impressed with what you’ve shown us and, in many ways, what you said is not a surprise. In fact, it just confirmed what we thought,” noted Eileen Dray-Bardon, CCPD commissioner.
Esterly, too, expressed her appreciation and confirmed that the board members want to use many of the ideas shared with them. “We met briefly after the student presentation and are excited about how we can begin to improve what we do with the parks,” she said.
The Business Consulting and Practicum class was made up of (from left), Dr. Dean Porr, Lisa Shoff, Michael Bentfeld, Ashley Martin, James Brock, Dan Wade, Taylor Pidgeon and Dan Newlin.
Tina Smith, 330-337-4247, firstname.lastname@example.org