University of Vermont students majoring in Parks, Recreation and Tourism in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources met two high level Vermont officials during a class lecture on Monday, December 4. Vermont Governor Phil Scott and Vermont Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation Michael Snyder joined the Introduction to Recreation and Tourism class to discuss the importance of outdoor recreation to the state’s economy.
Governor Scott outlined his new initiative called the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) chaired by Commissioner Snyder and comprised of a long and comprehensive list of experts representing outdoor recreation and economic organizations, businesses, and agencies in the state. Scott has charged the collaborative with building a plan to sustainably enhance all aspects of outdoor recreation to help grow the state’s economy.
Commissioner Snyder, an alum and former part-time lecturer in the Rubenstein School, engaged students in listing the benefits of engaging people in outdoor recreation and naming the world class assets of landscape, infrastructure, and culture that make up the Vermont brand.
Scott and Snyder asked for student input on improving the state’s outdoor recreation opportunities and on keeping young people working in the state. They also asked for a show of hands from those who would like to live and work in Vermont after graduation. Many students raised their hands but expressed concerns about the affordability of living in Vermont and finding jobs in recreation and tourism and in other fields of employment. They also voiced concerns about visitor carrying capacity at popular outdoor destinations in Vermont.
Governor Scott and Commissioner Snyder are hopeful that VOREC can bring all stakeholders together to plan for thoughtful growth of outdoor recreation and the economy.
Instructor David Kaufman, who teaches the class with colleague Walter Kuentzel noted, “It is unique to Vermont that we can invite the Governor and a Commissioner to visit, have them fit a college class into busy schedules, and enthusiastically share their work and vision with students. Governor Scott and Commissioner Snyder explained their commitment to enhancing Vermont’s outdoor recreation opportunities with a primary goal of creating well-paying jobs for graduates, as well as ensuring that Vermont is an affordable place to live, work, and play. The students were truly excited to know they can consider a future in Vermont when they complete their UVM educations.”