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Nature Tourism is What Barbara Medlock is All About

Promoting nature tourism in Jackson County is Barbara Medlock’s new job. Barbara recently joined the staff of the county’s Recreation Department as an Outdoor Recreation Specialist, working with Recreation Director Darcie Crew on a unique partnership between the county and the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area (MS Coast NHA), a program of the National Park Service that is managed by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.

Under this partnership, Barbara will focus her efforts on supporting the goals of the National Heritage Area’s work to highlight and promote nature-based tourism. “The MS Coast NHA is happy to partner with Jackson County and provide grant money for this new position created to promote nature-based activities. Our goal is to do the same in each of the six coast counties to advance the Nature-based Tourism Plan for Coastal Mississippi.” – Bridgette Varone, Nature Tourism Coordinator for the MS Coast NHA.

In the short term, Barbara will focus on identifying and recruiting local businesses to participate in the Gulf Coast Outpost program: a key element of the state’s effort to engage local businesses that are essential to supporting and growing the nature tourism sector. Barbara will also plan for outdoor recreation programs and events and work to establish partnerships with agencies and businesses that support nature-based tourism in Jackson County. According to Recreation Director Darcie Crew, “Jackson County is excited about the opportunity to showcase our outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism opportunities for our residents and for people visiting the region. Barbara Medlock brings a professional energy to life in this new position for us.”

This pilot effort is all about helping the MS Coast NHA implement the goals of its Nature-based Tourism Plan (NBT) that was developed in 2016 through a detailed process that engaged the brain trust of professionals and outdoor recreation providers in the region. The partnership with each county is a smart way to facilitate the plan through direct engagement of local government as an active partner. Details about the NBT plan can be found by visiting the MS Coast NHA website at and clicking the box “NBT Management Plan.”

Barbara then, becomes a local face of nature-based tourism in Jackson County. Having experience in operating a coastal marina and managing outdoor recreation programs for the Air Force across the region, Barbara understands the connections between people and nature and leading them to enjoy their natural surroundings. We all look forward to seeing the fruits of her efforts and how they can bring residents and visitors to the gulf coast closer to what we all know are some of the highest quality nature experiences anywhere.

Thanks to Jackson County for seeing this as a great opportunity. For more information about the Gulf Coast Outpost program for small business and opportunities about outdoor recreation in Jackson County, contact Barbara at [email protected] or 228-826-5330.

Best of luck to you Barbara!!!

I hope to see you in our great outdoors!


Written by Mark W. LaSalle, Ph.D.

Mark is a naturalist and wetland ecologist, providing expertise on wetlands, water quality and environmental impacts of humans. He has also developed and conducted a number of environmental education programs and workshops for youth, teachers, realtors, and the general public on a variety of subjects including wetlands, natural history, and environmental landscaping. Mark is a graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana (B.S. and M.S. degrees) and Mississippi State University (Ph.D.). Mark is the recipient of the Chevron Conservation Award, the Mississippi Wildlife Federation Conservation Educator Award, the Gulf Guardian Award, and the Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award.


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