Hendricks County Parks & Recreation recently asked members of the public to answer a short survey about where they get their information and how they utilize parks. More than 650 people responded, and the results are enlightening.
The five-question multiple-choice survey was sent out via email to the subscribers of Hendricks County Parks & Recreation’s (HCP&R) newsletters and posted on the department’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. It was also shared in several Facebook community “chatter” groups.
The survey asked respondents how they get information about parks, how they get information about local events in general, what they like to do at county parks, what days of the week they visit parks, and their home zip code.
“The idea for the survey was to allow people a quick and easy way to give us some insight into how effectively we’re communicating and offering programming that meets the public’s needs,” said HCP&R assistant superintendent Eric Ivie. “We thought we might get 10 responses. We were pleasantly shocked by the magnitude of the response. It illustrates just how important green space and recreational opportunities are to people.”
Nearly 70 percent of respondents chose hiking and walking as one of the activities that they enjoy at Hendricks County parks, making it the most popular activity. Attending events such as Maple Syrup Days, Eggstravaganza, the McCloud Honeybee Fest, and the Fall Colors Festival was the second most popular activity.
Visiting the Nature Center at McCloud Nature Park, having a picnic, walking dogs, practicing photography, and playing in Big Walnut Creek were among other activities most frequently enjoyed by respondents.
Respondents also used the survey to offer suggestions. Requests for additional trails, nature-related programming, and homeschool education opportunities were among several expressed desires for more activities and amenities at parks.
The results also shed light on things that HCP&R needs to improve to better serve public interests. Ivie said that information is just as valuable as learning what they’re doing well.
“We always have room to improve,” said Ivie. “This kind of constructive feedback is crucial, and very much appreciated, so that we can do what’s in our power to better serve our guests.”
Ivie recognizes that the survey fell far short of being scientific and didn’t come anywhere close to reaching all 200,000 visitors to HCP&R parks last year, but he said it’s a good start toward opening ongoing channels of communication with the public.
“It’s amazing what you learn by simply asking,” he said. “We have already begun developing methods for obtaining more regular public feedback in the future.”
The survey results in their entirety can be found at www.hendrickscountyparks.org.