Urban Planning Students Contribute to the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Plan

Laurelin Haas
Coastal planning students at St Marks National Wildlife Refuge
Students in the Coastal Planning course utilized their classroom knowledge to propose updates to St. Marks visitor services.

Urban Planning students in the Spring 2020 URP 5422 Coastal Planning course collaborated  with the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge to propose updates to the visitor services component of the refuge’s comprehensive plan.

Led by Dr. Tisha Holmes, Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, students reviewed the existing plan, evaluated strategy implementation, and refined future goals and data sources. The Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge organization provided funding for a group of students to conduct a site visit to the refuge.

In addition to interviews with refuge staff members, students utilized case studies from other conservation plans and online archival research to complete their project. Their final deliverable included a 50-page report and four 10-15 minute presentations. The students provided information on the project’s background, a SWOT assessment of the current comprehensive plan, case study reviews, and recommendations for future visitor service updates.

Supervisory refuge ranger Robin Will was very impressed by the students’ work and felt that she had gained many good suggestions for updating the comprehensive plan.

“I really liked that students compared us to Loxahatchee, Merritt Island, and Savannah, who have similar visitation but a more robust law enforcement staff,” said Will.