Travel has always been an interest of St. Marys resident Jason Nussbaum, and he recently found a way to use that interest to his advantage as part of his senior research project at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford (UPB). Jason is the son of David and Lori Nussbaum of St. Marys. He is a 2007 graduate of St. Marys Area High School, and while at UPB majored in Human Relations and minored in Spanish and International Studies.
"I've always had a huge interest in travel, and I guess it also comes from being in this area. It gives you a real sense of place, and I really love learning about this region where I come from. I'm very proud of it," Nussbaum said.
For his senior project, Nussbaum had to complete an ethnography, a study of the customs of peoples and cultures, and decided to focus his project on the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau.
"I chose them, the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau, because it combined lots of things I liked: the tourism, the marketing, the traveling, and promotion of this area," Nussbaum said.
Nussbaum started working with the organization in late January and wrapped up his research in early April.
"I spent three or four hours a day, three days a week, with the visitors bureau as an intern gathering all kinds of information. I helped them make a brochure. I was at the Kinzua Outdoor Travel Show in Bradford and also the Natural Gas Expo. I went and did the trade shows with them. I really, really liked it," Nussbaum said.
He added that he believes that many people do not realize the amount of work done by the visitors bureau and how proud they are of what they do.
In addition to promoting the area's resources, Nussbaum explained that the organization also works closely with all of its over 130 members.
"[Many members are from] McKean County. There are some members in Elk County and in Warren County and also in Cattaraugus County, N.Y., so they cover a big swatch of area," Nussbaum said.
It was these members that he ultimately focused on for his research project.
"I worked on understanding who the people were that worked in the visitors bureau, what their roles are, and then once I understood that by participant observation and stuff like that, I observed their members, how they would talk with them and do the brainstorming and find out new things to make people come to their business and to this area," Nussbaum said.
His project was titled "DMA Staff and Members: A Case Study in Sustainable Tourism Development."
Pick up a copy of the Monday, July 11, 2011 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.