Partnership with an internal focus group is a great way to pilot a new program

MSU Extension educators collaborate with local advisory council cluster to pilot new program and gain their perspectives for a wider audience.

Internal trainings, focus groups or peer reviews are some of the most valuable testing grounds for new products, services or offerings by an organization or business. Since there is a mutual value in success of the organization, it is often a great opportunity to gain vital input from those who are familiar with the product, service or offering and can give critical feedback to ensure long term relevancy and success.

Recently, three members of the Michigan State University Extension Tourism Team from Northeastern Lower Michigan teamed up to present the newly constructed “Understanding Tourism for Michigan Communities (UTMC) to members of the District Advisory Council. These Extension Educators were Bonnie Wichtner-Zoia, who is based in Alcona County, Brandon Schroeder, who is based in Alpena County and myself from Iosco County. Although located in different counties, they were able to share their expertise to collaborate with several other MSU Extension Tourism Team members on this statewide program.

This was a rare opportunity for us to not only help educate our Advisory Council members about one of our signature programs, but it also served as an opportunity for us to get their valuable feedback. Because the programming offered by MSU Extension is research-based, it is crucial that we continuously gauge the relevancy of our offerings to ensure the best possible programming is offered to the communities for whom we serve.

“Understanding Tourism for Michigan Communities” is being offered at various locations throughout the state. This program discusses the relationship between sustainability and tourism; niche market areas identified as contributors to sustainable tourism, trends and opportunities as well as existing resources for communities. For more information on how to have a MSU Extension educator present this program for your group or organization, contact your local MSU Extension Tourism Team member or your local MSU Extension office.

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