Spotlighting Undergraduate Tourism Researchers

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Despite all the uncertainty 2020 has produced the Tourism Extension Team wants to spotlight and thank three undergraduate students, Sam Hall, Chloe Riley, and Patsy McKee, for their contributions to tourism research projects this year. Their efforts, while continuing with their coursework and other responsibilities, have enhanced the research and extension efforts of our team and we are grateful for their time and dedication. Below is more information about each of these students.

Hall presenting initial Research at 2019 Symposium

Hall presenting initial Research at 2019 Symposium

Samuel Hall graduated from NC State in December 2020. During his undergraduate studies in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management he concentrated in Sustainable Tourism and conducted research with the People-First Tourism (P1t) lab focusing on social network analysis for microentrepreneurs. Hall also carried out his own research project relating social network analysis of fly fishing microentrepreneurs in five westernmost counties in NC. He secured funding for this project through the NC State Undergraduate Research Scholarship and presented his findings at Southeast Environment and Recreation Research (SERR) conference as well as the NC State’s Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Inside peer debriefing with Sam Hall and Dr. Morais

Inside peer debriefing with Sam Hall and Dr. Morais

His time with the P1t lab helped deepen his analysis through peer debriefings, a type of data triangulation probing a researcher’s thinking about all elements of the research process. The P1t lab also brought about his 2020 summer internship opportunity, a position in partnership with the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau and P1t Inc. Hall stated of the opportunity “it was an enriching experience where I learned a lot and was able to see first-hand how adaptable both organizations are in trying times for the tourism industry.”

Next up for Hall, he is applying for graduate school with aspirations of receiving a research assistantship. He would ultimately like to work in the tourism field, specifically, in destination management or destination planning consultation. Sam reflected on his experience in both the lab and with his internship stating “it has given me invaluable insight into my professional strengths and weaknesses while also providing me with some guidance for the next steps in my path after undergrad.” Hall wrote a reflection of his undergraduate experiences for a P1t Lab blog that can be accessed here.

Chloe Riley showing her Wolfpack Pride

Chloe Riley showing her Wolfpack Pride

Chloe Riley is a senior graduating in May 2021 with a degree in Sports Management. She has been working this year with Dr. Whitney Knollenberg and Dr. Carla Barbieri on an Empowering Mountain Food Systems project funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission. The goal of the project is to assist and increase agritourism in Western NC. The findings are currently being compiled to create workshops and other tools for agritourism operators.

Reflecting on her research experience Riley stated, “working on research is so important to me because it provides actionable solutions to problems within an industry. This agritourism project has been so special to me because I come from a small farming community. I have enjoyed being able to speak with people in the agritourism industry and learn from them and their experiences. I am able to take what I have learned from this project to my home community to help improve and build on existing agritourism. The most important thing I have learned during my work is to listen first. There is so much we can learn from one another if we listen first and speak later.” There will be more information about the agritourism resources Riley and the team is developing in the coming months.

Patsy McKee headshot

Patsy McKee

Patsy McKee is a Natural Resources major with a concentration in Policy, Administration and minors in Marine Science and Environmental Science. She is projected to graduate in the Spring of 2022. She has been a team member on the RAPID: Disaster recovery decision making in remote tourism-dependent communities project aiming to address the impact of compounded crises (i.e., Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic) on recovery decisions among tourism stakeholders in Ocracoke and Hatteras, NC. McKee is collecting and analyzing media as her contribution to the project and will continue through spring 2021.

While considering her work on the project McKee stated “this position provides me with many unique opportunities to engage in a multidisciplinary job experience. I am majoring in Natural Resources and this assistantship has exposed me to facets of natural resource management that I had never before considered. For example, this project has helped me to recognize and value the economic importance of tourism in remote communities.” McKee’s valuable interdisciplinary perspective is a fantastic addition to the research team.