National Extension Tourism holds three-day conference near Princeton University

National Extension Tourism wraps up another successful tourism conference highlighting strategies to strengthen rural community tourism initiatives.

Andy Northrop, Tourism and Leadership Educator leading workshop attendees through a series of facilitation tools they can use to help drive action. (Photo by Cynthia Messer, University of Minnesota Extension).

Andy Northrop, Tourism and Leadership Educator leading workshop attendees through a series of facilitation tools they can use to help drive action. (Photo by Cynthia Messer, University of Minnesota Extension).

National Extension Tourism, also known as NET, holds a three-day conference every two years. The event this year was held in historical downtown Princeton, New Jersey just seconds from Princeton University from Aug. 11-13.

The biennial conference is organized by a volunteer cohort of Extension faculty and tourism professionals calling themselves National Extension Tourism Design Team (NETDT), which represent land-grant universities from California, Minnesota, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, as well as universities and private consultants from Canada.

The theme this year was “Tourism in the 21st Century: Connecting Communities, Places and People” and included mobile workshops and breakout sessions. Mobile workshops highlighted historical downtown Princeton, agritourism ventures as well as nature-based tourism in New Jersey. Breakout sessions focused on a variety topics including agritourism farm safety and liability, economic contribution of bicycling events, tourism in county-level planning, and establishing tourism improvement districts or TIDs.

During a one-hour interactive workshop Andy Northrop, tourism and leadership educator with Michigan State University Extension, as well as a member of NETDT, demonstrated facilitation tools that can guide communities toward consensus and actionable steps when planning for tourism. He also co-presented with Extension colleagues on a 2014 multi-state project adoption and implementation of First Impressions. Highlights also included a plenary session consisting of three federal agencies (NIFA, USDA-RD, Forest Service) showcasing strategic partnership strategies to strengthen the recreation economy, as well as an action-planning session for NET’s future.

The biennial NET conference will next be hosted by Oregon State University Extension in 2019. It would be appropriate for educators, planners, economic developers, government officials, non-government organizations, as well as representatives of communities interested in tourism, to attend this conference to continue to grow skills or build their community revitalization strategies.

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