National Parks use social media to attract younger demographics

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As the age demographic for National Parks continues to skew older, Park directors are looking for new ways to attract younger generations.

The documentary “Social Parks” takes a look at different Park’s use of social media, and how it influences attendance. The full documentary is available for viewing here.

Ted Simons: we have to stop you there. Good to have you back on. America's national parks are breaking records for attendance but the demographic of visitors is increasingly older. If the parks are going survive they need to attract a younger generation, like millennials. In the documentary, "Social Parks," filmmaker Josh Cutlip takes a look at how the younger generation is using social media to encourage other millennials to get out and explore our national parks. Here's a clip from the film.

Chase Hansen: When I came to college in Arizona, I started hiking just for fun, just because there is so many good spots to hike here. Sort of along with that came photography and I ended up with really good photos on my iPhone and they got better from there and I realized I needed a better camera. Then I got really into photography and now it is one of my biggest hobbies.

Chase Hansen: We’re at Zion, it’s the best.

Dr. Gyan Nyaupane: People go there once in a lifetime. That is not going to help solve the puzzle we are talking about. We are well connected and we need to look into how you correct that.

Chase Hansen: I think for the national park it is $30 to get in for the entire week so that pass last for seven days. So, I think when younger people see those prices it is like I have to pay to be outside? I can be outside anywhere.

Dr. Gyan Nyaupane: I think the generations are busier than the previous generations. There is work, study. They is leisure at home. That is more of an issue. Travel adds up. If you need to travel to hike that is a barrier.

Liam Martin: I think one good way to get people to go out to parks and particularly with our generation is for them to have a personal connection with the park. For example, at Bear Creek Lake Park a lot of the rangers have their own Twitter account. They will post if we drive by a deer we will take a picture of it and post just so people can see it and get more interested in the park.

Chase Hansen: I think some people fall into the frame of mind where it is like no I am not good at hiking. I am not outdoorsy. While would I do that? It is going to be hot.

Dr. Gyan Nyaupane: I talked to millennials and they said seeing yoga poses outdoors made them go outdoors more often. We are just asking them what kind of image would be more powerful and they say having that would be more powerful.

Chase Hansen: That is pretty gnarly.

Dr. Gyan Nyaupane: We asked them how do they get information about parks and their activities and if they see some of their friends doing something fun they were more likely to those activities and seeing other advertisements. So, the social media is very, very powerful to bring them to outdoor.

Chase Hansen: If I saw this on Instagram it would definitely make me want to come here. I think a lot of people don't know the little spots like this. The little detailed spots and you don't get to see them unless you look for it. I like taking photos here because it is something you cannot possibly see every day unless you live here.

Chase Hansen: When you are coming here by yourself, it is kind of the more natural adventure where you take a spot and go to it. That is what I like about travelling and doing little adventures at my age because I can drive myself there.

Ted Simons: You can watch the full-length documentary, "Social Parks," on the web site: . Friday on Arizona Horizon, it’s The Journalists Roundtable we'll have much more on reports that congressman Trent Franks is resigning over unspecified allegations of inappropriate behavior. And an ethics complaint alleging inappropriate behavior by a state lawmaker is dismissed. Those stories and more, Friday, on The Journalists' Roundtable.

Ted Simons: That is it for now. I am Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Video: Arizona "Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.

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