National Extension Tourism (NET): 2021 Conf. Proceedings

of local waterways and increased communication with state managers about the protection of sensitive sites for shorebirds. Since the launch of this program, there has been widespread interest in adopting similar certification frameworks in other industries, such as the guided fishing industry, and in other geographies including other states in the Southeast and the Gulf region. Similar Sea Grant led initiatives in Florida (Friendly Fisherman), Oregon (GORP) and strong interest in expanding these programs into South Carolina all indicate that building a marketable educational certification program within the ecotourism industry has the potential to have significant conservation impacts. It is especially important to design such programs with specific audiences in mind to ensure that objectives and logistics are appealing to ensure adoption, and that conservation goals are feasible, transparent, and clear from the outset. With these caveats in mind, programs such as the CARE certification have the potential to ensure that ecotourism provides benefits for wildlife, local economies, and larger conservation initiatives. Future iterations of the CARE certification program will expand on the cultural aspects of ecotourism including an expanded Field Day to visit local cultural centers such as the Pin Point Heritage Museum in Savannah. Furthermore, a re-certification course is currently under development which will require guides to participate in 16 hours of professional development and/or volunteer service over a the 2-year certification period. Participation in associated training programs such as Oregon Sea Grant’s GORP certification will count towards this requirement. By intentionally designing recertification through promoting partners, supporting collaborators, and requiring professional development and volunteerism, the goal for the CARE program is to grow and foster a sustainable ecotour guide community of engaged and active coastal stewards. Keywords: ecotourism, shorebird, conservation, professional development


Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Initiative (AFSI) Business Plan. 2015. Available at www. Brown, S., C. Hickey, B. Harrington, and R. Gill, eds. 2001. The U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan, 2nd ed. Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Manomet, MA. Dusenbury, George. (2020) Outdoor Recreation and Sports. Virtual presentation for the Coastal Georgia Tourism Conference hosted by Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. March, 2020.

2021 NET Conference Proceedings


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