Parks prompt more unity in the community

National Recreation and Parks Association
National Recreation and Parks Association

As spring approaches, many thoughts turn toward warmer weather and outdoor activities. And at the same time we are smack in the middle of the 2016 presidential election season — where so many issues seem to be divided along party lines. But in a recent Penn State study, researchers found that Americans overwhelmingly support local parks regardless of political affiliation. 

This support also hasn’t changed much since 1991, when Penn State researchers first conducted a study on Americans’ use and perceptions of local parks and recreation services. The recent 2015 survey was conducted as a follow-up to the first.

“The extent to which Americans said they benefited a great deal from local parks actually increased between the two time periods,” Alan Graefe, professor of recreation, park, and tourism management, said in a recent article about the study.

“In an age of political divisiveness, agreement or consensus on any issue can be difficult to find,” Andrew Mowen, associate professor of RPTM and lead investigator of the study, said in another recent article. “Yet, our findings speak to the important place that local parks occupy in the minds of Americans, regardless of their political affiliation.”

Members of the news media interested in talking to Mowen or Graefe should contact Jennifer Miller at 814-865-8465 or

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