APPL – Who’s going to the Parks?

APPL - Granola man

What does the Census Reveal about a Changing America?

Emilyn Sheffield of California State University in Chico, An APPL speaker, analyzed the 2010 Census to see who our next Park supporters are going to be. The theory is that the usual white family that goes to National Parks on a regular basis is becoming the minority. So Emilyn looked at the Census and projections to see how people spend their most precious resources – their time and money. We all know that the Latino population will increase and so will the Asians.

She looked ahead and drew conclusions with a very broad brush. The US will be almost all urban. Most of the growth between 2000 and 2030 will be in the South and West. With climate change, people won’t move back to the industrial Northeast but will move further inland.

She looked at Boomers, Latinos and Millennials, who are now College age.
How does this all affect public lands?

The 78 million boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, will keep the boat afloat until we can figure out how to attract and capture the other groups. Boomers are going from money to meaning, that is, they want experiences. So what are we doing for them?
Boomers are into nostalgia. So parks have created day camps. I volunteered that I run guided hikes for our Friends of the Smokies group.

“Guided hikes, very good, “she says, “no one has the skill set to go on the trail alone anymore.” This is a very stereotypical view of boomers and the American public. She ought to meet leaders in the Carolina Mountain Club and many other hiking clubs throughout the country.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a woman from the Glacier Association. I told her that a group of CMCers had gone to Glacier last fall for a week. “Oh, how great,” she said. “We have a nature camp for adults. Did they go there?”

“No. We just want to hike. So the group leaders researched the park and hiked on their own.”

She seemed surprised. “Oh, hard core hikers.”

Latinos involve the whole family. Anglos are willing to send their kids to camp, go on trips themselves and leave grandma at home. This tendency to have large groups of Latinos take over a picnic ground in a National Park has created problems. This is not how these picnic areas were designed.

And millennials? Millennials want to sleep indoors and be connected. The speaker had started a mentoring program for college students. One observation that she never mentioned is that young people want internships and jobs. Unlike boomers, they do not volunteer for the sake of volunteering.

The exhibits were a lot of fun. Books, gadgets, T-shirts, and food. These are the vendors behind the products we see in the park bookstores all the time. Some that caught my eye.

APPL - WildflowersWildflowers packets in post cards, seed packets, and fragrances.


 Created by Nature  packages wildflowers from major parks. The company started in 1999 by Geri and Steve Peterson after Steve did reclamation work. He planted trees but thought what about the flowers that have been displaced. creates postcards, posters and playing cards of the old WPA Federal Art Project. They have that old fashioned painted look to them. By playing a game of cards that I was bound to win, I got a set of GRSM playing cards.

Olympia Granola make the granola bars that are sold in the Smokies bookstores. Yes, they are good but so high calories. You need to look hard at the small print to see that the trail bars are meant for two servings. Now who shares a granola bar? Or even more unlikely, who brings one home for the next hike? But did I say they were good?

I only did half the show because I kept stopping and talking to people. I’m doing the second half on Wednesday.

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