By Abigail Loop
A new class in Baylor’s department of journalism, public relations and new media is giving students a chance to help the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum while gaining real-world experience.
Students enrolled in the Strategic Communication Research course presented research projects and reports Monday to representatives of the museum. The museum is planning a $30 million to $40 million renovation to expand its exhibits.
Baylor students proposed improvements to the museum based on research they had conducted. Byron Johnson, museum director, was one of the representatives listening to students’ presentations and said the proposals were a pleasant surprise.
“It was very well done. I’ve seen consulting company services that haven’t been as useful as this,” Johnson said. “The amount of analysis and the material covered will be very useful.”
Dr. Marlene Neill, assistant professor of the journalism, public relations and new media department, said the class was split into three groups and conducted an online survey to find out likes, dislikes and suggestions about the museum from their subjects.
Two student groups presented to the museum representatives and shared their findings on two focus groups the students interviewed to help with their research.
The first group focused on Texas Rangers, whose main concerns for the museum seemed to be using the history of the museum as a recruitment tool.
Sachse senior Hunter Sappington, one of the student presenters, said making the exhibits kid-friendly and more interactive would be a big step in bringing people in.
“They really want kids to see that Texas Rangers are a relevant force today,” Sappington told the audience. “The rangers were very willing to be a part of the museum and excited to meet people as well.”
The group then made recommendations to the museum representatives about what initiatives should be taken to ensure a better museum experience with the upcoming renovation.
Georgetown junior Trent Sutton explained that most people they talked to wanted a family-oriented, interactive experience that also keeps intact the history and informational nature of the exhibits.
“You could expand on the exhibits concerning modern-day rangers as well,” Sutton said. “Include videos, a lot of rangers even suggested video games.
The second group’s focus group consisted of educators, and found that a more interactive and kid-friendly environment was still a main priority among educators.
The students’ findings showed that immersion of rangers and students in the museum, and the presentation and content of the displayed information and exhibits, were areas of most concern.
Plano senior Abigail Klein, a presenter for the group, said that by focusing more on these aspects and providing a variety of information in a number of different ways, the museum will improve even more.
“The first thing you need to focus on is immersion and getting the connection to the history of the rangers and providing hands-on-projects,” Klein said. “Take on a persona of a Texas Ranger.”
With the third group set to present later on this week, the Texas Ranger Museum board members will look at all students’ research and consider implementing some of their ideas into the renovation.