An NRPA member since 2006, Timia Thompson represents the next generation of park and recreation professionals well in her role as a research assistant in the Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management Department at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Along with her educational and professional experiences in the field, Thompson has served on the Congress Program Committee (CPC) for several years and also remains active in the Young Professional Network. Here, she discusses her career experiences both with and beyond NRPA and shares what she has gained from her volunteer service.
P&R: What does your work at N.C. State University involve?
Timia Thompson: I have been working as a research assistant since 2005. During this time, I have been able to work on a variety of projects ranging from visitor use to physical activity, environmental audits of equipment and facilities, women and parks careers, and race and ethnicity in leisure.
Currently, I work as an adjunct instructor. I’ve taught a variety of courses in the department, but most recently, I’ve been teaching our department’s "Diversity and Inclusion in Recreation and Sport" course.
P&R: You served on the Congress Program Committee as the Student Branch president. When did you come on board to this committee, and how have you stayed involved?
Thompson: I came aboard CPC in 2008 for one year as the Student Branch (SB) representative for the 2009 Salt Lake City Congress. Afterward, I was approached by the chair for the following year’s committee to serve as an at-large member on the CPC, and I have been doing so ever since. While my specific jobs have changed over the years, our goal as members of the CPC is to ensure quality, diverse, engaging sessions for the NRPA Congress. For the coming conference in Houston, my role is the slot scheduling coordinator.
P&R: I understand you spoke at NRPA’s Congress this year. How did this opportunity come up, and what did you think of the experience?
Thompson: One of the elements strongly encouraged during my time with the SB board was that all members submit sessions for the conference program. It was our desire to see quality student-focused sessions—sessions for students, by students. This trend has continued with the Young Professional Network. One of our goals is to ensure quality programming aimed specifically for students and young professionals.
This year, my friend and colleague Nathaniel Jaramillo decided to expand upon the session we did at the Atlanta conference and focus more broadly on young professional development and marketing one’s self effectively for a competitive edge.
I really enjoyed sharing at the Anaheim conference. I’ve been doing this for a few years now, but it’s also good to see the fresh faces and feel the new energy coming from those who are eager to get involved and make their mark in the field.
P&R: What motivates you to be involved with different networks and committees at NRPA?
Thompson: I’m a firm believer in active engagement. We are a service field. Service is the cornerstone of what we do. If we want to sow the seeds of a better tomorrow, it starts today. Being involved with the different networks and committees in NRPA helps provide some perspective. You get to be a part of the process and see the inner workings of things.
P&R: Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Thompson: As part of my time with the SB, we were required to attend NRPA’s Legislative Forum. The first year, I had no idea what to expect and didn’t understand the value, but I began to look forward to attending in subsequent years. Attendance at Legislative Forum, particularly as a student, has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had with NRPA.
Interview by Danielle Taylor, Associate Editor, Parks & Recreation (firstname.lastname@example.org).