50 Reasons to Attend the 2015 NRPA Annual Conference

By Matt Brubaker | Posted on April 21, 2015

Whether you have never had a chance to attend or you are one of those people who has an overwhelming collection of conference badges from over the years hanging on your office wall, the 2015 NRPA Annual Conference is the one you don’t want to miss! Every year, the NRPA Annual Conference is where more than 7,000 park and recreation professionals come for energetic networking activities, inspirational education sessions and an inside look at the latest products for the field. But this year is extra special because NRPA is celebrating its 50th Anniversary and we aren’t holding anything back! Here are 50 reasons why you don’t want to miss out on the NRPA Annual Conference on September 15-17 in Las Vegas, Nevada.


Opening General Session

  1. Everyone will be there! Don’t be left out of the largest annual gathering of park and recreation professionals under one roof.

  2. Join the celebration! NRPA will be celebrating its 50th anniversary all three days.

  3. You will have your choice of hundreds of education sessions that cover a variety of topics including leadership and management, public relations, marketing, recreation programming, revenue/customer service and much more.

  4. Tom Farrey, ESPN Reporter and Executive Director of the Aspen Institute, will be presenting on the Aspen Institute’s Project Play and the Future of Play.

  5. The conference is graciously supported by an exclusive group of sponsors – Greenfields, Playcore, and American Ramp Company.

  6. Become a member! Non-members receive one year of membership with registration. That includes so many great benefits well beyond the conference. 

  7. Mark Hall Patton, star of TV’s “Pawn Stars”, will be presenting on how museums fit in park and recreation departments.

  8. NRPA Premier members who purchase four full package registrations, get the fifth registration for FREE!

  9. Ninety-seven percent of prior attendees would recommend attending to a colleague.

  10. Get face to face time with manufacturers and service providers during exhibit hall hours and at the Exhibit Hall Networking Reception.

  11. Hear from top speakers in the field and get motivated for the year ahead.

  12. Speed sessions help you learn something new injust 20-minutes and cover an array of fun and educational topics.

  13. Network with people from all 50 states plus Germany, France, India, China, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Japan, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, Turkey and more.

  14. You need to try it before you buy it, right? Test out amazing cutting edge playground equipment and other products from some of the top brands in the exhibit hall. 

  15. We are social! Some of the best highlights and photos are shared on social media during the conference and you can share your great ideas. Just be sure to use #NRPA50.

  16. Jon Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service, will be the featured George Butler Lecture series keynote speaker.

  17. You will have a chance to win a $100-$200 American Express Gift Card every hour on the hour in the exhibit hall.

  18. Don’t miss your chance to see NRPA Board Chairman Detrick Stanford bust out some moves, maybe.

  19. You can hear about the Park of the Future from the bright minds of the future leaders of parks and recreation.

  20. Eighty-eight percent of attendees are satisfied with their overall experience – you can be too!

  21. Earn CEUs to maintain your certification or reach other professional development goals when you attend most education sessions.

  22. More than half of last year’s attendees rate their value for attending the conference above average.

  23. Be in touch with what is going on around the country, get new ideas and stay ahead of the trends.

  24. Volunteer and your registration fee can be greatly reduced or you may even be able to attend for free!

  25. At the NRPA Member Celebration area in the exhibit hall there will be interactive games, prizes and giveaways, a magician and more!

  26. Celebrate the revitalization of a local park. Join NRPA as we unveil our 2015 Parks Build Community renovation project at Joe Kneip Park in the City of North Las Vegas. 

  27. Learn how to be a highly respected, highly influential and highly successful communicator in Jerry Balistreri’s interactive session “Reading the Tells - Learning How to Read Body Language” in the Learning Playground.

  28. Join exhibitors and your colleagues at the Exhibit Hall Networking Reception Tuesday night for networking, entertainment and cash prizes. Light hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be served.

  29. You can win something great and do some good when you bid on a silent auction item. Visit the exhibit hall to place your bids on items including products, services and experiences. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to a charitable partner.

  30. The Learning Playground and Learning Labs in the exhibit hall will get you out of your chair to interact directly with speakers and experience fun, hands-on learning. 

  31. Bring your running shoes and grab a glow stick for the 5K Night Fun Run/Walk presented by Las Vegas Local Host Committee.

  32. So many certifications and so little time! During the pre-conference workshops you can prepare for the Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) exam, or become certified for the first time or recertified as a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) or Aquatic Facility Operator (AFO).

  33. Seventy-five percent of attendees come to the NRPA Annual Conference to network. Whether that means meeting new people, reconnecting with colleagues or learning from the best in the business, there are many opportunities to network.  

  34. Bring your clubs or rent a set for the Golf Tournament at Revere Golf Club presented by the Las Vegas Local Host Committee.

  35. Explore what Nevada has to offer. Skip the slot machine and sign up for a photo scavenger hunt, a tour of the Hoover Dam or another Off-Site Institute put on by the Las Vegas Local Host Committee.

  36. Win complimentary registration for 2016. There will be multiple opportunities in the exhibit hall to win free registration to the 2016 NRPA Annual Conference in St. Louis.

  37. Learn how to be a successful speaker and create sessions that engage your audience at the Pre-Conference Workshop “What Every Good Speaker Knows and You Don’t.”

  38. The Pre-Conference Workshop “12 Steps to Sponsorship Success” will teach you how to approach your sponsorship from determining what assets are valuable to sponsors to what you should charge.

  39. Have a little fun in-between sessions and challenge one of your colleagues to inflatable human bowling. Don’t worry it’s as cool as it sounds!

  40. If you get all the squares on the Expodition Game card stamped and turned in you could win cool prizes.   

  41. Return to your department inspired, refreshed, full of new ideas and with a better understanding of how to best serve your community.

  42. The new and improved NRPA Research Sessions (formerly known as the Leisure Research Symposium) provide an international forum for scholarly exchange and discussion about leisure. The Sessions include both theoretical and applied research applicable to daily practice, with an emphasis on the latter.

  43. Help NRPA blow out it’s candles at “NRPA's 50th Anniversary Celebration” in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

  44. Join some of the top agencies and professionals in the field as they (or hopefully you) accept awards at the Best of the Best Ceremony.  

  45. In Donna Kuethe’s compelling session “True G.R.I.T.T. – Growing Resiliency in Tough Times” participants will identify that adversity is inevitable and learn to not only survive but thrive through life's difficulties.

  46. The NRPA Events App provides attendees everything necessary to plan and navigate the conference right at their fingertips. Access speaker bios, session and event descriptions, maps, local resources and connect with colleagues all from your phone or tablet.

  47. The wallet-sized Pocket guide – packed with a full schedule, maps, event details and more. This convenient little guide is great to pair with the app or use on its own for those who may not prefer the digital method.  

  48. In Michael Bork’s session “The Balloon Animal: The Most Stressed Creature in the World!” participants will gain an understanding of the basics of stress, how individuals handle stress and what physical effect stress can have on the body all while playing with balloon animals of course.

  49. Whether you are a student looking to pursue a career in the field, a young professional looking to further your career, a seasoned professional looking for a new challenge, or a park and recreation agency recruiting new staff, you will find it ALL at the NRPA Career Center in the exhibit hall.

  50. What happens in Vegas doesn’t have to stay in Vegas. Bring back all the great ideas you soaked up and share them with your colleagues.


Hopefully those 50 reasons are enough to demonstrate how amazing this year's conference is going to be and why you don't want to miss a second of it. Mark your calendars because registration opens in May. If you could attend for free, would that be another reason to attend?


What would you add to this list? Leave a comment below or tweet us @NRPA_News using #NRPA50


Matt Brubaker is NRPA's Marketing Manager.