On May 9, students from Sierra Nevada College and CA State Chico attended and presented at the CA Trails and Greenways conference. SNC students Oliver Dicostanzo, Sharhesa Fife, Samatha Van Ruiten and Ashley White all partook in the conference.
Nicole DeJonghe, senior program director for Sierra Business Council, who manages the Sierra Nevada Geotourism project and teaches a geotourism course at SNC, first gave an introduction. She explained geotourism, defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents. Geotourism is a leading economic driver in the region, thus it has been vital subject matter for students at SNC.
Emilyn Sheffield and her CSU Chico students were also part of the collaboration and presentation. Emilyn emphasized the importance of geotourism, especially with our millennial generation.
And the juicy information began as the panel composed of SNC and Chico students answered questions that helped the audience understand their generation, how they use technology, what they value, and what their visions are for geotourism, trails and greenways in the future.
An audience member from the Tahoe Rim Trail was surprised and relieved to hear the students state that they do not use Twitter, and now she knows to focus more of her social media outreach on Facebook and Instagram if she would like to reach that generation.
Fife made some requests to the older generation: “We want and need mentors, instead of getting annoyed with our generation, please mentor us ... We would like to see your (older) generation make some progress on eliminating our dependence on oil.”
White explained that environmental education needs to happen at a younger age, especially since she did not start learning about National Parks until she was in college.
Dicostanzo emphasized that he highly values work to create a bike path all the way around Lake Tahoe and get cars off the road, and he was excited to see those plans in progress.
Outside of the presentation, students attended conference sessions and displays, networked and connected with CSU Chico students to share stories about each other’s college experiences.
“Meeting kids of Chico was wonderful because truthfully the only thing I knew about Chico was that they have a ton of party kids and not much about their academia,” White said.
Other reflections from the students include:
“While I was nervous to attend the conference, it opened my eyes to the amazing amount of projects and job opportunities one can have within the outdoor field.” — Ashley White
“I learned a lot about the important of sustaining the organization within so that it could implement the projects and plans it had for trails and pathways. That was something I never really thought of — making sure a organization is sustainable internally to continue with their work.” — Samatha Van Ruiten
“I think the panel shined a lot of light on the future of Geotourism and California’s prosperity pursuing sustainable actions by multi-generational collaboration.” — Sharhesa Fife
“I definitely loved the opportunity to practice mingling amongst adults and gathering information and insight on a series of topics. I talked to a man named Branchiforte who was involved with transit and trails, I really took a liking to his initiatives and had a great time talking with him.” — Oliver Dicostanzo