Haramoto said he feels an obligation to taxpayers to increase park visitation because state parks are expected to be as self-supporting as possible. It makes good business sense to tap into underserved markets, he said. But the initiative is also about ensuring all Utahns enjoy state parks.
"I heard something on TV the other day that I really liked, 'Diversity is our destiny,'" he said. "That's true."
Thus far, state parks officials have been supportive of Madsen's and Haramoto's efforts.
Madsen teaches English as a Second Language, which has provided another opportunity to inform her students about the park and its amenities.
One of Madsen's primary responsibilities is to gather data to determine whether the initiative is meeting its intended goals. When Madsen surveys park users, some are reluctant to disclose their ethnicities. "Some just write down 'American' or they say 'What's the point?'"
The point, Madsen said, is to create a broader sense of community.
"We as a park want to be a community gathering place. We want this to be a resource where everyone feels welcome," she said.
There are some indications that a more diverse group of area residents are using the park, Haramoto said.
Dominick Barratt, who works at the watercraft rental concession, said during the school year, USU students and faculty are the primary customer base for the rental equipment.
"I would say the majority of our rentals out here are by minorities," he said of the park concession.
While the data collection is ongoing, Haramoto said he believes he and Madsen are on the right track.
"I know we're making a difference. We've got to stick with it."
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