I am writing because my fourth grade daughter recently sent a letter requesting information for a school report on Grand County to the county offices.
The Moab Area Travel Council, whom I have also sent a similar letter to, replied to us. I am highly disappointed and very irritated with what was sent back to her. Her letter may have been form written to help out her teacher and her class with ease of sending it, but it had a specific list of things she was looking for so that she might write about Grand County for school.
Her letter specifically listed that she needed information on the “history of the county, places of interest, and any local celebrations. Is there any mining in your county? What natural resources, wildlife, and hunting do you have? If you have any brochures with pictures and/or maps, I would be interested in those. I am excited to learn about your county and share it with my class. Thank you for your help.”
What was sent back to her was an eight-page booklet with nothing more than pictures with a title and a photographer name that had to have been put together in the ’90’s at the latest, that had no information about the area at all. The “map” if it could be called that, is a cartoon characterization of Moab and the surrounding national parks with no actual street names, no named locations besides what are written on “signs” pointing off of the paper toward locations such as “Canyonlands” and “Dead Horse Point,” and generic little buildings with titles such as “hotel” and “restaurant.”
This map was comical, no pun intended. Yes, she is a child, but she’s closer to being an “official adult” than a toddler who would find this enjoyable.
I probably could have been fine with both of those things as a jumping off point since we live in a digital age and I’m not above helping my daughter Google information, but the final item she got back was her own letter with a hastily scribbled note on the bottom that reads, “Here is some information on grand County hope this Helps good luck”(with this capitalization). I ask: What information? What did they actually give us that will help in writing a report? Not one thing.
What is lucky is that I, her mom, was born and raised in Grand County and my parents still live here. What is lucky is that we do live in the digital age where information is readily available if you search for it, coupled with her grandma being able to go to the Moab Visitor Center and pick up everything we need for free and mail it to us.
I still follow local goings on, so I understand Moab is overrun much of the year by events and tourists and their offices are busier than ever, earlier and longer than it ever was when I was growing up, but this was appalling. I recently read an article about how many millions of dollars from the Transient Room Tax is spent to advertise to get people to come to Moab, but a Utah student can’t get the Travel Council office to send them decent information on the area so they can write a report that all fourth graders are required to write?
Even if they would have sent a list of websites where she might find the information she specifically asked for, put in an actual map, or tossed in the “Moab Guest Guide” her grandma sees for free to tourists all over town, I could have turned a blind eye to this, but so little effort was put into what was sent back to her, it almost would have been better had they sent nothing at all.
I truly hope that other kids, not fortunate enough to have family in Moab, aren’t sent similar letters and were given more than we were. Actions matter, even to a fourth grade girl stressing over her Counties report.
– Janece Winder
A disappointed Moab native