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Winter 2014 Newsletter Extended: NRPA Houston

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By: Kevin Mould (RPTA ’14), Editor

The RPTA group poses after the Quiz Bowl

Every year, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) holds its Annual Congress to bring together recreation professionals of various trades from all over the nation. Among the highlights of this annual gathering are a keynote presentation, numerous professional development sessions, and an expansive convention floor showcasing the latest in playgrounds, sports equipment, and so much more. This year, NRPA held its 47th Annual Congress in Houston, Texas from October 8-10, 2013. As with years past, Cal Poly RPTA sent a delegation to represent what has become one of the country’s premier undergraduate academic programs in recreation, parks, and tourism management. This year, the group consisted of four faculty members and six students: Dr. Bill Hendricks, Dr. Brian Greenwood, new professors Dr. Susan Mackenzie and Dr. Keri Schwab, and students Kevin Mould, Josh Pighetti, Emily Seropian, Taylor Matthews, Mike Higgins, and Jennifer Kiesewetter.

After a day of travel, students and faculty alike attended the opening session and keynote speech by Trendhunter president Jeremy Gutsche before getting the opportunity to take in the various seminars, networking sessions, and convention displays the conference had to offer. This continued through the next day before culminating on the night of Wednesday, October 9th with the Academic Quiz Bowl, a Jeopardy-style quiz game that tests the knowledge of teams from universities with prominent recreation programs. This year, the team of Kevin Mould (captain), Josh Pighetti, Mike Higgins, and Jennifer Kiesewetter (alternate) fell short of a repeat national title, taking third place behind stiff competition from the likes of Brigham Young and Texas A&M. The Aggies of Texas A&M, formidable foes in past competitions, finally earned their elusive first national title on their home turf.

Ever the gracious hosts, the Aggies were kind enough to treat the Cal Poly delegation to a Texas-style BBQ dinner following the competition. The student and faculty members of the respective Cal Poly and Texas A&M delegations have maintained an academic friendship of sorts over the course of the four years since the Academic Quiz Bowl began back in 2010. Each year, it has become tradition for the respective squads to join each other at a local establishment and enjoy the camaraderie that is emblematic of the major.

Students pose in Houston

On Thursday, students took advantage of breaks in the Congress program and explored the city to see what activities Houston had to offer. After visiting the aquarium, going to the top of the city’s tallest building, and exploring the underground commuter tunnels, the last day of the conference culminated in the ending party for the Annual Congress. This festive event is always a highlight, as students and faculty got the chance to network, sample some fantastic food, and enjoy one another’s company.

Ultimately, Houston proved to be another fun and productive RPTA professional development experience, and Cal Poly will have a presence once again when this marquee conference moves to North Carolina next fall.

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