ECU’s behind-the-scenes work part of “The Treehouse Guys” episode to air July 5
Behind-the-scenes work by East Carolina University students and a faculty member will come to life in an upcoming episode of “The Treehouse Guys.”
The popular DIY Network show was filmed between February and April while hosts James “B’fer” Roth and Chris “Ka-V” Haake and their crew built two, 200-square-foot treehouses in a cypress swamp in Windsor. The show airs at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, July 5.
Dr. Paige Viren, associate professor of recreation and leisure studies at ECU, and undergraduate students in recreation and park management, as well as graduate students in sustainable tourism, have worked on the project for the past three years.
ECU first began working with the town in 2013 when Viren and her students were asked to examine the feasibility of building treehouse accommodations or “treezebos” in cypress trees on the Cashie River as part of a sustainable, community-based tourism and economic development plan for the area. The treehouses are located near the N.C. Wildlife boat access at the end of Elm Street in Windsor.
The assessment was made possible through Viren’s participation in ECU’s Engaged Outreach and Scholarship Academy, which provided seed money to hire a consultant to determine the treehouse project feasibility.
The consultant connected Viren and the town with the DIY Network show, which decided to take on the project as an episode for the program.
ECU recreation and park management majors in Viren’s tourism and planning and development class have continued to collaborate on the town’s efforts to enhance recreation and tourism in Windsor.
Students have played a role in obtaining grants for funding to make improvements in Windsor including the Elm Street Campground, universally-accessible kayak launches and boat access at Hoggard’s Mill Bridge and now the first universally-accessible treehouses in North Carolina, Viren said.
ECU students also have participated in river clean-ups and several students have completed internships in Windsor.
The TV episode represents a culmination of efforts by ECU, the Town of Windsor and grassroots leaders and residents to spur economic development while protecting the environment and showcasing the culture of eastern North Carolina, Viren said.
“By drawing attention to the area’s unique natural resources, this project represents a major shift in how communities think about sustainable economic development,” said Dr. Clifton E. Watts, incoming interim chair of the ECU Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies.
ECU alumni have been involved in the effort too. Coastal Fog, a Greenville interior design firm, was contracted to “stage” the treehouse for filming. Jordan Vainright Proctor, her sister Jennifer Vainright Lutz and their mother Marty East Vainright – all alumnae of ECU – co-own and operate the business.
One ECU graduate has been hired by “The Treehouse Guys” and another now works for the Town of Windsor, Viren said.
The treehouses are expected to be available for overnight rentals later this year.