Developing Local History
The landscape of small towns in America has shifted somewhat as fast food chains, gas station mini-marts, and big box stores now populate properties often set close to a highway bypass far from downtown. No longer the sole shopping hub, these towns have begun to rely on tourism to bring people to their centers. Honors student Shelby Herrin has been studying just that; more specifically, she has been looking at heritage tourism in Jenkins County, Georgia.
Herrin (recreation and tourism management ‘15) has focused her studies on the city of Millen, home to Camp Lawton, Magnolia Springs State Park, and the third oldest Baptist Church in the state of Georgia.
Her research examines both the theory and practice of heritage tourism. In the first section, she completed a theoretical assessment on resources in Jenkins County. In the second section, Herrin created a plan to make Millen into a cultural and heritage zone.
“Millen has a lot of sites that are interesting to tourists, but nothing was being promoted. It needed promoting,” Herrin said.
Herrin worked closely with her mentors, Dr. James Bigley and Dr. Svitlana Iarmolenko, to create the model for her thesis. “My mentors had high standards for me, and they made me add a layer of depth to this project that I wouldn’t have had without them,” Herrin said.
Herrin created a day trip inventory and designed a pamphlet on the Millen Scenic Byway. Then she worked with Georgia.gov to distribute the pamphlets throughout Georgia. Millen will soon develop a new Welcome Center, and Herrin’s research will be held there. “The reason I choose this topic is because it’s going to make a difference,” Herrin said.
In January, Herrin presented her work at the 20th annual Graduate Education and Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism at the University of South Florida. “The conference was mostly graduate students, but many people were interested in my work. I received a lot of input that was very helpful in my revisions,” Herrin said.
After graduation, Herrin plans to become certified in different aspects tourism and then put her knowledge at work for a tourism organization.
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