seal  Purdue News

June 9, 2003

Purdue experts can discuss summer related topics

A variety of experts from Purdue University can speak to the media about summer related topics, such as travel, food safety, spending time with children and pet health.


Summer vacations more than getaway

A Purdue University child expert says redefining the family vacation can help parents survive summer with the kids at home.

"We need to remember vacation doesn't have to be a major trip to Europe," says Judith Myers-Walls, a human development specialist at Purdue Extension. "It could be as simple as taking time to camp in tents in the backyard, hike or bicycle in the neighborhood, or visit a new destination that is just a county away."

Myers-Walls suggests allowing children to have a role in planning any vacation by reading maps, planning meals or developing a budget.

"These are good learning opportunities, and they won't seem like work to your child," she says.

Myers-Walls also can talk about making the most of summer vacation for each child.

"If a child thrives with structure, then look into summer school or other organized activities," Myers-Walls says. "Other children may be more laid back and like to entertain themselves. Finding a way to include some summer structure also can help keep parents from going crazy when their children are home for the summer."

CONTACT: Myers-Walls, (765) 494-2959,


Tourism expert: Driving trend to rural tourism

A Purdue University tourism expert says more tourists will drive their cars to country locations this summer.

Liping A. Cai, associate professor of hospitality and tourism management and director of Purdue's Tourism & Hospitality Research Center, has been studying the trend toward rural tourism for several years.

"There is more appeal for rural travel destinations now than two or three years ago, according to both Indiana research and trends from the Travel Industry Association of America," Cai says. "The trend increased even before 9/11, and it has accelerated since then."

Contrary to current perceptions, rural tourism is not just for nostalgic seniors, Cai says.

"The interested age group is getting younger, and the groups are getting larger," he said. "This suggests that more families are choosing rural destinations."

Cai defines the rural tourism trend in classic economic terms.

"There is growth on the demand side on the part of vacationers," he says. "On the supply side, rural communities are seeing country attractions as viable economic alternatives.

"Rural tourism has always been there, but now we're starting to see more interest on the part of travelers."

Cai started researching the rural tourism phenomenon in 1997 in New Mexico. This year he conducted surveys of visitors to rural areas in Indiana's Grant and DeKalb counties. Complete results are being tabulated and will be available in September and March 2004.

"The trend we're seeing now is rural tourism building on existing programs," he says. "So, for example, if there's a winery in an area, rural areas can market bed and breakfast establishments and farm tours."

CONTACT: Cai, (765) 494-4739, (765) 464-2088 (home),

Purdue Tourism & Hospitality Research Center Web site

Purdue Cooperative Extension rural trip information Web site


Pets need extra care in warm weather

Now is the time to think about parasite control, heat stroke and travel arrangements for cats and dogs, says Steve Thompson, veterinarian and director of the Pet Wellness Clinic at Purdue University's School of Veterinary Medicine.

"Every summer veterinarians see animals that have collapsed from heat stroke or that have developed paralysis from an infected tick bite," Thompson says. "Pet owners need to be aware that a few precautionary measures can make summer bearable for cats and dogs."

As pets spend more time outside during the warm weather, they are likely to encounter a disease-transmitting insect such as a tick, mosquito or flea. Thompson says pet owners should take a few minutes daily to run their hands, or a specialized comb, through their pet's fur to look for ticks.

CONTACT: Thompson, (765) 494-1107,


Food safety hot topic at table

Keeping food-borne illnesses off of your summer menu can be as easy as keeping picnic foods properly chilled and making sure vegetables are well washed before consumption, says a Purdue University food safety expert.

"I use the FightBac basics of clean, separate, cook and chill when it comes to food safety," says Charles Santerre, a professor food and nutrition who also specializes in toxicology related to contaminants in food, especially fish, fruits and vegetables.

He says practicing food safety can be as simple as using a new plate for grilled meat instead of the same dish the raw meat was on first. Santerre also is a spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists.

CONTACT: Santerre, (765) 496-3443,


Airlines need good summer season to take off

Summer vacation season traditionally brings a dramatic increase in the number of people flying. This year, however, aviation industry watchers are concerned that the bad economy, coupled with fear over terrorism and SARS, could keep more people at home or lead them to travel by alternate means.

Dale Oderman, an associate professor of aviation technology at Purdue University, can discuss airlines' financial dependence on the summer travel season, as well as other issues the airline industry faces.

"The airlines need a good travel season," Oderman said. "Most of the major airlines continue to be in poor financial health, and if there is no increase in travel this summer, the results could easily prolong an already slow recovery. At the moment, ticket sales are picking up, but it is important for that trend to sustain itself throughout the season."

CONTACT: Oderman, (765) 494-9567,