Two important questions frequently arise in the college classroom: Why should students join NRPA, and, is it “worth it” for undergrads to pay the student rate in order to start their memberships before graduation?
Parks & Recreation decided to ask the experts: four undergraduate student members of NRPA. These future leaders may seem familiar to those of you who attended the 2014 NRPA Congress in Charlotte, North Carolina, because these young ladies represented Texas A&M University as the defending national champions of the Student Quiz Bowl. Fresh from defeat to the new champions, Cal Poly San Louis Obispo, the four competitors reflected on their experiences as NRPA members and offered the following advice to their fellow recreation students nationwide.
The Texas A&M University team includes:
- Team captain Morgan Davidson, from Grapevine, Texas. She will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences (RPTS) in May 2015.
- Callie Hobbs, from Denton, Texas, recently graduated with her bachelor’s degree in RPTS.
- Leah Hudspeth, from Denton, Texas, will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in RPTS in May 2015.
- Amy Wagner, from Sugar Land, Texas, is a junior RPTS major at Texas A&M University.
The 2014 Fighting Aggies quiz bowl members outline their top five reasons to join NRPA:
5) Access to Networking
Davidson: It is important for students to join NRPA because it is one of the largest networking sources you will encounter in your time as a student studying parks and recreation.
Wagner: The national organization certainly allows you to network with professionals in the field.
4) Preparing for a Career
Hudspeth: I think it’s great to have access to the NRPA Career Center — there are so many cool jobs on the website. It gets you dreaming.
Davidson: Building connections can only jump-start a career for someone nearing graduation!
Wagner: NRPA definitely provides the proper resources for students to excel after graduation. I look forward to seeing where my relationship with the national organization takes me.
3) Attending the NRPA Annual Conference
Hobbs: Attending the 2014 NRPA Congress was one of the most educational and fun experiences of my college career. Walking onto the exposition floor for the first time, I was immediately greeted by the friendliest vendors, schools and working professionals.
Davidson: At the NRPA Congress in Charlotte, I really enjoyed that I was able to connect and share a meal with a professional in the industry.
Hudspeth: It was an honor to learn from some of the most educated, wise and passionate people in this field at the 2014 NRPA Congress. Every parks and recreation student should have a chance to do this, too!
2) Gaining Personal, Professional and School Pride
Hobbs: Through NRPA, I’ve met a few Texas A&M alumni, all of whom gave me quality advice, as I will be entering the professional world soon.
Hudspeth: I really enjoyed representing my school on a national stage in the student quiz bowl. We studied a lot, and it was pretty nerve-racking, but it was super fun to have our professors cheer us on and meet other students from across the country.
Davidson: As students, we are the best advocates for NRPA. My peers will be impacting the field! By joining, you are becoming a part of something that is bigger than yourself.
And the No. 1 reason — the learning opportunities!
Hobbs: NRPA has provided so many educational opportunities to learn about programs, strategies and other services like events and marketing.
Wagner: I have learned and refined skills that I will be able to carry with me for the rest of my life. I’ve learned about major happenings and research being conducted, and NRPA provides a chance to apply what I’ve learned in the classroom to real-life situations.
So, fellow recreation educators and students, the next time one of those two frequently asked questions comes up in your classroom, you have five very good reasons to respond, “The best time to join NRPA is now!” Our field’s future leaders will benefit from the networking, career preparation, conference participation, school pride and learning opportunities that student membership provides.
Anna Pechenik Mausolf, CPRP, is a Ph.D. student at Texas A&M University and coach of the 2014 Fighting Aggies student quiz bowl team.