Scholarships and Fellowships it is WORTH it

By Tom Venniro|Posted on June 18, 2012

“I don’t have time!” 
“It's not worth it, I wont win.”
“I am not as qualified as other people.”


These are all excuses for a young park and recreation professional to not apply for the NRPA Young Professional Fellowship and/or the AAPRA Externship; or any scholarship opportunity for that matter.  I don’t buy those excuses.


Both the NRPA Young Professional Fellowship and the AAPRA (American Academy for Parks and Recreation Administration) Externship are unique opportunities that will potentially allow applicants to attend the 2012 NRPA Annual Congress and Exposition in Anaheim, California.


Four recipients will be chosen for the Young Professional Fellowship. They will receive complementary registration to Congress and the 2013 Legislative Forum and up to a $1,000 travel stipend each for travel expenses. Similarly, the Externship is also awarded to four individuals and recipients will receive complementary Congress registration and up to $750 in travel expenses. 


I was fortunate to be the recipient of both the Externship and Fellowship in the past two years and I can tell you that the experiences were invaluable. 


Both programs provide recipients a very busy and informative Congress.  To start, each program provides participants with mentors of the most distinguished levels in this profession.  In addition to meeting these individuals, the networking gained from these programs is amazing as awardees are invited to all Congress social events and meetings where they will interact with many of what I have come to learn are the best of the best.


Does applying for these opportunities take time and effort?  Yes, it does.  It should take some time to sell yourself as a professional in a letter of rationale as to why you are a deserving candidate.  It should take some time to seek out quality references that are willing to support you.  And yes, it should take time to update your resume with all that you have accomplished. 


At the very least, the application process will update your portfolio and enhance your professional development.


Are you qualified?  Well, you will never know if you do not apply.


If you are thinking of applying, don’t think, don’t make excuses as why not to, just do it! 


Written by Tom Venniro, Recreation Supervisor, Chili Recreation Department in North Chili, NY. You can reach Tom with questions at or leave a comment below. You can also read more about Tom in the June issue of Parks & Recreation


*Editor’s note: In addition to the Young Professional Fellowship and the AAPRA Externship, NRPA also offers the Diversity Scholarship. Four will be awarded this scholarship and will receive complementary registration to the 2012 Congress and Exposition, up to $1,000 to assist with travel and hotel expenses and a mentor who serves on the Diversity Committee. Deadline for the NRPA Young Professional Fellowship and Diversity Scholarship is July 6, 2012. Deadline for the AAPRA Externship is June 22, 2012.