1995- 1997: The objective of the original Ethnic Culture work unit was to develop baseline information on ethnic minority use and recreation needs associated with Corps projects that could be used by decision makers for project planning and operations. The Ethnic Culture work unit utilized an extensive literature review (Gramann 1996), interviews with Corps project personnel and visitors, focus groups, and user surveys to identify and describe the distinctively different recreation styles for Native-Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Hispanic-Americans.
1997-1998: The Ethnic Culture work unit identified several factors in the Corps' current management and policy that now act to inhibit recreation participation by minority groups (e.g., behavior perceived as discriminatory by ethnic minorities, facilities unsuitable for the average ethnic group size, communication problems, and numerous others). For each of the four major ethnic groups a technical note was prepared in which recommendations for changes in Corps facilities, services, and policies were made that should help the Corps in the future better serve the needs of its minority customers (see these technical notes). Significant amounts of information developed by the Ethnic Culture work unit can be used for future Corps decisions on facilities upgrades and operational changes.
1999: In the Ethnic Culture work unit's final technical report (Dunn and Quebedeaux 1999), primary emphasis was placed on the development of a dual methodology (focus groups and survey instruments) for future minority recreation data acquisition and evaluation. The report also compared the results of the focus groups and customer surveys performed at five Corps lakes with what was reported in the leisure research literature. Both the 1997/1998 focus groups and the surveys conducted in the spring and summer of 1999 largely corroborated the recreational preferences for these groups identified in the work unit's major literature review (Gramann 1996).
2000-2001: In October 2000 a new plan of study was presented to the Recreation Management Support Program (RMSP) managers, which built upon the results of the first Ethnic Cultures work unit. The plan presented an empirical approach, which fully responded to the "statement of need" for additional ethnic research presented at the spring 1999 program review. The new plan proposed using three or more demonstration projects throughout the United States to test current theories on inter- and intra-ethnic recreational behavior. Using Corps Districts as partners, pre- and post- implementation monitoring at the selected demonstration projects would be conducted and intensive analysis of monitoring results would precede the preparation of the final technical reports, journal articles, and proposed training course. To successfully implement the plan of study, an integrated team approach that includes ERDC researchers, advisory committee members from academia, the Corps of Engineers, and other federal agencies, and RMSP committee members will be required.
2001: During the first year of research, work has focused on identifying demographic trends and the types of improvements desired by the Corps traditional (white) customer base as well as the three ethnic minority groups, which will have the greatest economic impact on the COE recreation program (African, Hispanic, and Asian-Americans). Also during that first year, an effort was made to contact recreation professionals in academia, government, and private industry with first-hand experience in designing and modernizing recreation facilities for minority groups; compile a list of those facilities, projects, and programs that have actually been built or implemented and determine what features make them successful. The principal investigator visited and analyzed a representative sample of these successful projects.
2001-2002: Selection criteria for the demonstration projects will be developed as part of an ERDC workshop on ethnic recreational trends at the end of the first year of research. Invited speakers from the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Corps of Engineers, and academia will make presentations and share their success stories in meeting the ethnic diversity challenge. During the second year, the demonstration projects will be selected and specific recommendations will be provided to participating COE Demonstration Projects and Districts on facilities improvements and modernization as well as recommended changes in services. Pre-implementation monitoring will begin using university researchers and continue throughout the implementation phase. An interim report will be prepared on the results of these monitoring efforts.
2002-2003: During the third and final year of research, post-implementation monitoring will be completed and the results of the total research and monitoring effort will be documented in a final technical report and a journal article. A training course for COE Operations Personnel will be conducted at one or more of the demonstration projects at the conclusion of the work unit.
2003 - Present: An interagency training conference was held in San Antonio in August 03. Demonstration projects selected in September, 2002 are: Chief Joseph Dam/Rufus Woods Lake, Washington (Laura Beauregard POC), Grapevine Lake, Texas (Tim MacAllister POC), and Lake Success, California (Robert Moreno POC). Permission was obtained from the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity in March 2004 to use information in their "Country Handbooks" to prepare mini-field cultural guides for NRM personnel.