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Public-Private Partnership to Increase Commercial Tour Guides' Effectiveness as Nature Interpreters

Joseph W. Roggenbuck, Daniel R. Williams, Clifton T. Bobinski

Abstract


Public-private partnerships are increasingly viewed as a means to accomplish the delivery of park services, but the effectiveness of such cooperative efforts has seldom been empirically evaluated. The study reported here assesses the effectiveness of a National Park Service training workshop designed to increase commercial river guides' knowledge of the natural and cultural history of the New River Gorge National River, and to increase the quality of the interpretation the guides provide their river customers.

A 13-item multiple-choice test of river knowledge was developed, and a field experiment was used to measure knowledge and enjoyment gained by customers on treatment trips (i.e., with trained guides) versus control trips (i.e., with untrained guides). No significant differences were found between the pretrip experience levels and knowledge scores of treatment and control customers. Customers reported that guides who had a training session spent more time discussing the river's natural and cultural history than guides who had not, and knowledge of the area and trip enjoyment were sigruficantly higher for customers after treatment trips versus control trips. The reported performance of novice guides and the positive change in their customers due to treatment increased even more dramatically than for experienced guides. These results indicate a public-private cooperative venture can extend park agency educational efforts and increase visitor learning and enjoyment


Keywords


Learning, interpretation, tour guides, rivers, public-private partnerships.

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