If you visit the Chattanooga Zoo on a Friday or Saturday during the summer months, there’s a good chance you’ll come across a group of University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students near the entry gates surveying visitors about their purchasing habits at Chattanooga attractions.
Rising seniors Luke Beaty, Tyler Fly, Annaka Hall, Austin Hamblin and Shelby Rector are Sport, Outdoor Recreation and Tourism majors—also known as SORT—in the UTC Department of Health and Human Performance. Under the guidance of Associate Professor Eric Hungenberg, the five are working on a zoo funded-project entitled “Chattanooga Zoo Impact Analysis.”
While the combination of an academic program like Health and Human Performance and the Chattanooga Zoo might seem unusual, the tourism management component of the SORT program is “a way to tap into our community’s blending of sport, outdoor recreation and tourism services,” Hungenberg said. “This is very relevant to our program as a leisure service that stimulates tourism in our city.”
By performing economic impact and improvement performance studies, the students are involved in data collection to analysis, all the way to the presentation of findings to community partners to better understand how data informs strategic management.