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Winter 2016 Newsletter

Live, Protect, Explore!

The Report, a newsletter for Recreation, Parks, & Tourism Administration, alumni, students and friends

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By Dr. Bill Hendricks, Department Head

Dr. Bill Hendricks welcomes winter quarter as a time of possibilitiesRain is falling, snow is on the mountains, and RPTA is getting ready to celebrate its 40th anniversary! This got me thinking… What was happening in 1976 besides the creation of one, incredible academic program? California was in the midst of a severe drought. The average cost of a four-year college education was $1,913. Happy Days was the most popular TV show, Rocky won the Academy Award as the best picture, and the Mary Tyler Moore Show received an Emmy as the best comedy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average high was 1,004, Gerald Ford was President, and NASA first accepted women as astronauts. A gallon of gas was 59 cents, and a new home cost about $48,000. “Don’t go Breaking My Heart” was a hit, and Steve Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” was Album of the Year. The Oakland Raiders were Super Bowl champs, the Reds beat the Yankees in the World Series, Kareen Abdul-Jabbar was the NBA MVP, USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, and future Hall of Famer Dan Fouts was the quarterback for the San Diego Chargers. Now the real kicker, four of our seven full-time faculty had yet to be born in 1976.

As is the case with each of our newsletters you’ll read about the accomplishments of students, alumni, and faculty and the activities that are a hallmark of our Learn by Doing education at Cal Poly. In this edition, you’ll also read about a generous donation from the Michael and Lori Bickel family to support the development of RPTA seniors. And of course you will receive all of the information you need to celebrate with RPTA and Dan Fouts (yep, he is joining us) on Feb. 27 at The Cliffs Resort in Pismo Beach. Event tickets are sure to sell out, so don’t delay in purchasing yours and I hope to see you at “RPTA in the Spotlight” for a red carpet affair.

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RPTA in the Spotlight: 40th Anniversary Celebration

By Sierra Frost (RPTA ’17,) staff writer

Each February, RPTA students, faculty, alumni, parents, and friends of the program come together at the annual auction and dinner to enjoy each other’s company, celebrate the major, and fundraise for the department. This year, the major will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a theme of “RPTA in the Spotlight” at the Cliffs Resort in Shell Beach. A highlight of this year’s event will be an appearance by Dan Fouts, retired NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and CBS football commentator.

Silent and live auction listing updated daily on the Cal Poly RPTA Auction website!

RPTA Dinner and Auction at the Cliffs Resort February 27_2016

Instead of the usual one-night auction dinner, the 40th Anniversary Celebration will be a two-day event. The celebration will begin Friday, February 26 at Luis Wine Bar in San Luis Obispo with a mixer for alumni and faculty. Saturday will kick off with a variety of recreation opportunities including: a morning hike up Madonna Mountain, kayaking in Morro Bay, and zip lining and wine tasting in Santa Margarita.

The festivities will culminate with the auction and dinner fundraiser Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, at The Cliffs Resort in Shell Beach from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. The event will highlight outstanding alumni, faculty, and students. All proceeds will fund scholarships and provide students with career development opportunities.

The evening will feature a special guest appearance by Professional Football Hall of Famer and CBS football commentator, Dan Fouts. His daughter, Shannon Fouts (‘17) is an RPTA major who is very involved in the department. Fouts has graciously donated several items to include in the live auction. The department is excited to welcome Fouts, and his wife Jeri, back to San Luis Obispo. Read more.

The event is planned, organized and executed by faculty member Jenn Prentice, and a committee of dedicated RPTA students chaired by student leader Becky Long. Jenna Arocha (17’), a member of the auction solicitation committee, said she decided to join the auction team because she thought it would be a great way to not only get more involved within the RPTA Department, but with the community as well. “I’ve enjoyed contacting companies and getting in contact with our San Luis Obispo community,” she said.

The RPTA 40th anniversary celebration is the RPTA department’s main fundraising event. We invite you to purchase tickets, or become an event sponsor.

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RPTA Honored Alumni Then and Now

By Anna Bach, (RPTA, '16)

Each year, the RPTA Department names one graduate as the Honored Alumnus of the Year. As we near the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the department, we decided to check in with a few of the previous winners. All of the honored alumni have been invited as special guests to the annual auction and dinner, where the Honored Alumnus of 2016 will be named. The past winners include:

2002: Kendi Root
2003: Jim Miller
2004: Jody Watty
2005: Mike Brabanec
2006: Brian Fitzgerald
2007: Marcy Maloney
2008: Marc Nix
2009: Danielle Fabela Kranitz
2010: Amy Golladay Azzi
2011: Elisa Weaver Cox
2012: Jodi Fisher
2013: Lindsey Miller
2014: Whitney Hrdlicka
2015: Danae Pearce


Danae Pearce, 2015

Pearce was named the RPTA Honored Alumna of 2015 at the End of the Year banquet in May 2015. Her company, Danae Grace Events, is a full service design and planning company specializing in boutique hotels, resorts, and other exquisite venues mainly in California. Danae Grace Events has become widely successful since its creation in 2009, and was even featured in the 2015 edition of The Knot Best of Weddings. Pearce is still the lead designer and planner of her company, and she recently welcomed a baby boy. She has served as a mentor and supervisor of countless RPTA interns, serving as a launching point for successful careers.


Whitney Hrdlicka, 2014

Hrdlicka, who graduated in 2002, works for Hope Family Wines in Paso Robles as the director of marketing. Whitney is a member of the RPTA Advisory Council, has taught part-time for the RPTA Department and regularly donates wine to RPTA Department events.


Lindsey Miller, 2013

In 2013, Miller was heading the marketing efforts for the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce and secured the media attention that led to San Luis Obispo receiving the designation “Happiest Town in America.” Lindsey currently works for Pacific Gas & Electric Company on the corporate relations team, mainly overseeing community relations and outreach programs. Miller was the catalyst for the highly successful directed field experience and internship programs at the San Luis Obispo County Visitors and Conference Bureau. She has been a guest speaker in several RPTA classes and continues to support the program with networking and industry experience.


Elisa Cox, 2011

Cox stayed connected with Cal Poly and the RPTA Department after she graduated in 2003, often attending the annual auction and dinner, mentoring students, providing “real life” class projects for student groups, and joining the department’s Advisory Council. She has also provided students with internships and job opportunities. Cox is the assistant city manager for the City of Sierra Madre, overseeing the city’s community services and working closely with the police, fire, planning, and public works departments. She enjoys collaborating with all the city’s departments, long-range strategic planning, and the community involvement aspect of her job. Cox said, “It’s a role that is never boring and no two days are ever the same!”



Danielle “Dee” (Fabela) Kranitz, 2009

Kranitz was given the award for her continuous outstanding achievements in the recreation profession, including authoring a book titled, “Special Events for Youth Programs” in 2007 and her first teaching assignment in the Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration Department at San Francisco State University in 2008. Kranitz recently released the second edition of “Special Events for Youth Program” through the American Camp Association and the Healthy Learning bookstore.

Kranitz earned a master’s degree in recreation from San Francisco State University in 2006, with a specialization in education administration. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in 1998 from Cal Poly with an emphasis in commercial recreation/tourism. She is certified in camp directing by the American Camp Association. Currently, Kranitz serves as recreation services supervisor for the City of San Bruno (California) Community Services Department, recreation division. In this role, she supervises seasonal day camps, after school programs, special events, and teen programs for the community. Since 1990, Kranitz has worked as a program director and supervisor in a wide variety of recreational settings: non-profit and private residential camps, a private school, and municipal recreation centers all over California, New York, and Maine. Kranitz, and her husband Andrew, live in California with their two daughters, Renee and Summer. She likes to travel with her family including recent vacations to Yosemite National Park, and the Hawaiian Islands.


Marcy Maloney, 2007

In 2007, Maloney was named the alumna of the year to honor her for many years of mentoring students as a part-time faculty member. At the time, she was the director of ASI Programs and Services, with direct oversight of the Recreation Center on campus. She created the vision and the planning for all of the programs and facility improvements at that time.   Maloney is now the executive director of the Associated Students, Inc. at Cal Poly, which is one of the non-profit auxiliary organizations on campus. ASI employs more than 70 full time staff and about 500 student staff members, and operates the Sports Complex, University Union, Recreation Center and Orfalea Family and ASI Children's Center. “I had the privilege of being one of the main contributors on the design and opening of the expanded Recreation Center in January of 2012,” said Maloney.



Brian Fitzgerald, 2006

Fitzgerald works for Douglas County in Minden, Nev. (just east of Lake Tahoe) as the chief operations manager of the Community Services Department. He administers the budget, provides statistical analysis, and manages human resources. He also coordinates information technology standards for each division, including parks, recreation, weed control, public transit, senior services, social services, animal care and services, and community health. Fitzgerald is extremely active in the recreation profession, also serving as the president of the Nevada Recreation & Park Society.

The RPTA Department is proud of all of our RPTA Alumni, and thankful for their involvement in our community and with our students. We look forward to seeing many of them at the RPTA Annual Dinner and Auction in February 2016, when we will add one more alumni to this group of outstanding recreation professionals!

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RPTA in the Community

By Alyssa Beatton, (RPTA, ’16), Co-Editor

Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration students and faculty pride themselves on being active members in the community. Many RPTA courses require students to complete a certain amount of community service hours to increase awareness of local programs, agencies, and get people involved.

Students in Professor Keri Schwab’s RPTA 210: Introduction to Program Design, not only learn about all that goes into planning an event, but they plan and execute an event as well.

In the fall quarter, students were integral in helping plan a holiday parade for the Downtown SLO Association, a 5k race benefitting the YMCA, a basketball skills assessment for the YMCA, a holiday carnival for Cal Poly Athletics, as well as other community oriented events for Camp Fire SLO, Special Olympics, and Cal Poly’s Safer.

Students, working with the SLO Downtown Association, assisted in planning the 40th Annual Holiday Parade. This year’s theme was “There’s No Place like SLO,” and the parade featured floats, marching bands, dancers, and more. Claire Scheibe (‘18) said the event “gave families and residents a chance to engage with others and be entertained, and it was beneficial in increasing community interaction.” The students were happy with the overall success of the holiday parade and learned a lot from the experience. Kimberlee Fidler (‘18) learned that even the smallest of details matter. “You do not realize with big events how important all the small details are,” she said.

Students also worked with the YMCA to help plan a basketball skills assessment for the YMCA youth basketball league. Grading participants on shooting, dribbling, defensive footwork, and practice drills, Logan Dosker (‘18) said that the event was designed to provide safe competition but allow everyone to have fair and equal teams. During the event, RPTA students were in charge of checking in participants, as well as directing volunteers. “The event allows kids an opportunity to play sports in a safe, fun, and nurturing environment,” said Dosker.

Students working with Cal Poly Athletics helped plan a holiday carnival that took place before the women’s basketball game on Dec. 5. Annelise Tappe (‘17) said that her group was directed to come up with their own vision of what they wanted the event to entail. Tappe’s group decided to “incorporate the San Luis Obispo community and the Cal Poly community in order to strengthen ties between the two.” With that goal in mind, the group held the carnival on Cal Poly’s campus behind Mott Gym. The carnival incorporated a photo booth, raffle, as well as a toy drive for the holiday season. In order to boost attendance at the carnival, Tappe and her group contacted local schools and passed out fliers. The Cal Poly Athletics holiday carnival was an overall success in boosting attendance for the game and increasing community involvement on the Cal Poly campus.

Another student group worked to help plan an auction/dinner fundraiser for Camp Fire Central Coast, a summer and afterschool recreation program for youth. The group helped plan the decor, acquire basket donations, set up the photo booth, serve food, and help run checkout at the end of the dinner. The group learned how many moving parts there are to an event. Camp Fire raised the most money ever from this year’s event!

Professor Schwab’s students fully encompassed the Learn by Doing motto by creating their own events and gaining firsthand experience. The events that they planned and executed were successful in raising community awareness about different organizations in the San Luis Obispo County.

Professor Marni Goldenberg also introduces students to community agencies via volunteer opportunities in RPTA 257 Leadership and Diverse Groups. Megan Tarrant volunteers with Partners in Equestrian Therapy, and had this to say about the experience, “PET is such a cool program and I love how it offers this experience for kids who are often not included in other recreation opportunities. Getting to work with kids and to see their joy from riding and their parents’ reaction and the overall attentiveness of PET's workers and volunteers really inspired me and reminded me that everyone should be given this chance. I feel that I am getting a lot out of this experience, and that it is more to me than just some class requirement.”

Another student in RPTA 257, Nicole Hoadly (‘18), volunteered with two organizations and really felt rewarded by her work in the community.

“For our community service project, a group of students and myself did a drive for the local San Luis Obispo Women’s Shelter. We split up into two groups and set up a booth at Vons and Ralphs from Oct. 24 to 25. We raised more than $400 in cash and gift cards, as well as an abundance of diapers, canned foods, non-perishable food items, toothbrushes and toothpaste, feminine products, cleaning supplies and other items. We were amazed by the generosity of the community in helping us support the San Luis Obispo Women’s Shelter.

Hoadly also volunteered with Friday Club. Of this experience, she said, “This quarter I have also helped volunteer with Friday Club at the recreation center on campus. I helped people with down syndrome and other disabilities play basketball and bowl. I absolutely loved volunteering at Friday Club. There was one older woman in a wheelchair who was an amazing bowler. She would get a strike almost every other time and her face would light up the room as she gave me the biggest high five. It was an amazing thing to see and an amazing experience to be a part of.”

Keep your eyes open —you never know where you might find an RPTA student in the community!

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NRPA Conference Wrap Up 

By Sierra Frost, (RPTA, ’17) RPTA Quiz Bowl Team Member

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) held its 50th  annual conference in Las Vegas, Nev., in September. With more than 10,000 delegates in attendance, the RPTA Department made a strong showing with presentations by multiple faculty members and a competitive Quiz Bowl team. Professors Susan Mackenzie, Keri Schwab, Bill Hendricks, Brian Greenwood, and Jerusha Greenwood represented Cal Poly. Four students, Brooke Campbell, Anna Bach, Kaitlyn Ozenne, and Sierra Frost joined the professors, and competed in the Sixth Annual NRPA Quiz Bowl as defending champions.

The Quiz Bowl is a Jeopardy-style competition attended by universities from around the country. Although the Cal Poly team was not able to beat first place winner Brigham Young University, the team was able to keep pace with the competition and represented Cal Poly well.

Brooke Campbell, RPTA junior and member of the Quiz Bowl team said, “I think attending academic conferences is a valuable resource that all students should take advantage of. NRPA offers an opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone, forcing you to network and learn from professionals you wouldn’t meet otherwise. Also, students typically attend conferences with professors from our department, who are esteemed professionals in the field themselves. This gives students the chance to build relationships and connect with professors, who can make a clear goal in your desired career path and who can provide you with the tools to achieve it.”  The students were able to network with thousands of other professionals, attend the industry’s largest trade show, and take part in educational sessions. Some of these sessions covered marketing programs on social media, how to motivate your employees, and out of the box ways to use a degree after you graduation. The students even attended presentations given by their very own professors.

Professors Keri Schwab and Susan MacKenzie presented their research project, “Awakening and Strengthening Urban Youth Connection with the Land.” They conducted research for two years, examining motivations and barriers for youth to recreate outdoors. "Professor Mackenzie and Professor Schwab’s interest and passion for our industry was evident throughout their presentations," said Kaitlyn Ozenne (’17), Quiz Bowl member.

Schwab also presented with colleagues from the University of Utah, on a qualitative analysis of video interviews from legends in the parks and recreation field. Mackenzie presented with colleagues from the University of Idaho and Appalachian State University on “Exploring Factors Related to Geocaching Participation.”

They were not the only ones in the spotlight, Professor Bill Hendricks was nominated and elected as a fellow in the Academy of Leisure Sciences — an organization dedicated to the intellectual advancement of leisure sciences.

Hendricks was recognized for his long and accomplished career in the field, and as an outstanding scholar who has contributed to the intellectual advancement of the field.

Overall, the week was informative, fun, challenging, and a great way for students and faculty to expand their networks while learning new things within the field. Through lectures, presentations, networking, and competing, students were able to get a taste of the park and recreation field that they might not get inside of a classroom--the NRPA Conference is a true Learn by Doing experience.  

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RPTA Faculty Receive Recognition

Adapted from Press Releases by AnnMarie Cornejo

Cal Poly Professor Named as One of Five Up-and-Coming Professionals

RPTA Professor Keri Schwab, was named one of five up-and-coming professionals by the National Recreation and Park Association.

Schwab’s key industry involvements and her thoughts on the future of the parks and recreation industry were highlighted in the 50th anniversary commemorative edition of Parks and Recreation Magazine, the association’s official publication. The article can be accessed online at

Keri Schwab named as up-an-coming Professional“I am honored to be recognized as a future leader in the field,” Schwab said. “I wholeheartedly believe in the power of leisure, recreation, sports, tourism and outdoor experiences to change lives for the better, and I am committed to sharing my passion, experiences and knowledge with students.”

Schwab, who earned a doctorate from the University of Utah’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, has research interests in youth development, community recreation and family leisure. She has presented her research nationally and internationally.

“Keri Schwab arrived at Cal Poly with exceptional credentials,” said Professor Bill Hendricks, head of Cal Poly’s Recreation, Parks & Tourism Administration Department. “Her rise as an up-and-coming young scholar has been nothing short of meteoric. She is contributing to Cal Poly’s reputation nationally and is taking steps to raise our stock internationally as well.”

Cal Poly Professor Elected as Fellow in Academy of Leisure Sciences

Professor and Department Head Bill Hendricks was elected and inducted as a Fellow in the Academy of Leisure Sciences this fall at the National Recreation and Park Association Conference in Las Vegas, NV.

Hendricks was one of four individuals elected as Fellows, among 14 nominees from throughout North America.  Dan Dustin, a Professor at the University of Utah who nominated Hendricks said in his nomination letter, “What sets Dr. Hendricks apart, and what makes him so deserving of this honor, is the fact that he has done great justice to a professor’s tripartite responsibility while serving primarily as an academic administrator.  He has made time in the midst of his administrative duties to mentor students, attend to scholarship, fund that scholarship, recruit and build strong faculty, and position his academic department as one of California’s best.  He is a wonderful ambassador for the work we do at the local, regional, and national levels.”

Founded in 1980, the Academy of Leisure Sciences recognizes Fellows as outstanding scholars for their contributions to the intellectual advancement of the field.  Election requires a two-thirds majority vote of current Active Fellows.  Criteria for nomination include engagement in the leisure sciences professions for more than 10 years, the quality and quantity of scholarly literature contributions, recognized leadership and involvement in professional organizations, and outstanding performance as a teacher, leader, administrator, practitioner, or researcher.

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Internship Highlight: Joey Cremen – Camp San Luis Obispo 

By Simon Boehme (RPTA, ‘18)

Due to his tremendous efforts and incredible work ethic at Camp San Luis Obispo, RPTA alumnus Joey Cremen, received a Letter of Commendation and Commander's Challenge Coin. He is one of about 16 students who have served as an intern at Camp San Luis Obispo in the past two years. According to Professor Kirk Sturm, Cremen rapidly excelled over the 10 week period, and subsequently helped develop some essential leadership challenge courses, as well as assisted with participant waivers, inventory checklists, and maintenance checklists.

Cremen initially became interested in the internship when Professor Sturm, who is a major with the California National Guard mentioned the opportunity in class. Since he grew up with his father working as the Battalion Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department, and his mother as a special events coordinator for the California Foundation on the Environment and Economy, the internship seemed to be a perfect match for Cremen.

Fortunately, the tasks and assignments presented to Cremen at Camp San Luis Obispo were, as he described it, very hands-on; mirroring the credo among Cal Poly students, Learn By Doing. He was assigned several projects within a short span of time. It was a very professional and fast-moving environment; Cremen said that it was “imperative to have quick and effective communication with the officers.” He also worked with a few officers to develop a list of standard operating procedures for 10 of their leadership challenge courses. Many of these courses are used for cadets to learn critical leadership skills and to help them gain confidence that can support their transformation into future commanders in charge. Additionally, Cremen developed waivers for the courses to protect Camp San Luis Obispo and assisted several majors at Camp San Luis Obispo in reviewing contracts for special events.

Cremen said Cal Poly’s RPTA Department does an exceptional job preparing students for such worries. Cremen referenced Sturm’s risk management class as well as Greenwood’s sports programming class and explained how they helped him realize how important every detail related to waivers and contracts.

Cal Poly and the RPTA Department also offer a pre-internship class that allows students to explore a wide variety of options.

Regardless of what career Cremen pursues, he said his most valued desire is to do something that makes him happy. “I am passionate about living a happy life. It sounds funny but whatever I end up doing, being happy in life is above all else,” he said. Cremen is living in the North Beach area of San Francisco where he is bartending at the nostalgic 84-year-old establishment, Bimbo’s 365 Club. The club has hosted many well-known musicians over the years, including Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay and Van Morrison. He is preparing for an interview with the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, to be a recreation leader.

The RPTA department wishes Joey Cremen the best of luck in his future endeavors!

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Kaleo Ruggiero-Orban: Internship Spotlight

By Alyssa Beatton, (RPTA, ’16), Co-Editor

Recent Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration alumna, Kaleo Ruggiero-Orban (‘15), spent her summer working big name concerts at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, Calif. As the premium seat sales intern for the concert production and marketing company, Live Nation, Ruggiero-Orban was able to fulfill her RPTA 465 internship, as well as gain valuable experience in the music industry.

Kaleo Ruggiero-OrbanAfter deciding during her senior year that she wanted a music related internship, Ruggiero-Orban met with Professor Bill Hendricks to ask if he had any contacts in the industry. Hendricks put her in touch with alumnus Taylor Matthews (‘14), a Live Nation senior premium seat sales coordinator.

Between office days and show days, Ruggiero-Orban said that each day was different, depending on the shows. A typical office day entailed answering client emails, fulfilling ticket orders, managing Excel spreadsheets of client ticket information, mailing tickets to clients, updating show sheets, having tickets printed through the box office, and maintaining a connection with Live Nation clients.

Ruggiero-Orban said the office work was in preparation for show days, which were a completely different experience.

She was stationed at the VIP terrace, where the VIP guests sit and have access to a private bar, bathrooms, and catered food prior to the concert.

On show days, her job was to distribute wristbands to the VIP clients and prepare the VIP Terrace so it was ready when clients arrived. Typical Live Nation premium seat sales clientele are company owners who use the Shoreline Amphitheatre VIP Terrace as a means to entertain their clients, she said.

Working concerts at the Shoreline Amphitheatre was an exciting experience for Ruggiero-Orban because she was able to see artists that she has always been a fan of, as well as experience really great talents that ultimately led her to become a fan. The show she enjoyed most was Dierks Bentley because “he has so much energy and really interacted with the crowd.” Ruggiero-Orban was surprised by artists she has never heard of but who put on a great performance, such as Joe Bonamassa. An experience she will never forget during her internship at Live Nation was assisting at a concert at The Masonic in San Francisco, where Ringo Starr was the main performance. An inspiring experience for Ruggiero-Orban, she highlights that “it was really cool to see a massive music legend right in front of you!”

Although working the concerts was exciting and fun, hard work and problem solving skills were definitely required when working a show, she said. “In this industry, there are a variety of different problems that can arise - some you can predict, some you cannot, some that can be solved, and some that cannot,” she said. For example, a client who lost their ticket during set change wasn’t able to get back into the VIP seating area without Ruggiero-Orban reprinting their ticket in the box office.

After completing her internship at the end of October, Ruggiero-Orban accepted a position as a premium seat sales coordinator with Live Nation. “The music and events industry is such an exciting place to be because you can be behind the scenes sometimes, but you can also still be an attendee. It’s the best of both worlds,” she said. Her internship with Live Nation taught her a lot about working in the music industry, but the greatest takeaway Ruggiero-Orban has from her experience is that “no matter how many classes you take and problems you try to predict, things will arise that you had not thought of, and as long as you remain calm, everything will fall into place and you will solve these issues and bring together something that people will remember forever.”

The RPTA department is so proud of Kaleo Ruggiero-Orban and all she accomplished during her internship. We wish her the best of luck as she continues her journey with Live Nation!

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A Gift From the Bickel Family  

By Anna Bach, (RPTA, ’16), Co-Editor

The RPTA Department received a generous donation of $10,000 in the fall quarter from an RPTA alumna and her family, to be used for student professional development. Michael Bickel, and his wife Lori, are both Cal Poly alumni. Michael earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in industrial technology, and Lori earned a bachelor's in graphic communications.

Their daughter, Ali Bickel, graduated from Cal Poly with a RPTA degree in 2012. Ali was an active leader during her time at Cal Poly. She was a member of the RPTA Club, Rho Phi Lambda, and the Quiz Bowl Team. In her years as a student, Ali attended multiple industry conferences. She is now a project manager for Technology Culture and Innovation at Salesforce in San Francisco.

Three years after Ali graduated, the Bickels decided to donate $10,000 to the RPTA Department to further the growth and development of students. According to Ali, “The funds should be used to aid senior RPTA students with professional development, either through professional development trips, alumni outreach, student conference sponsorship or any other program to expose seniors to the job market.” Professor Hendricks said that the RPTA Department intends to use this donation across many years to further the education of seniors. Plans for use of the donation include a professional development trip for Rho Phi Lambda members to Levi Stadium in Santa Clara and George P. Johnson in San Carlos. Members of the honors fraternity will get exclusive behind-the-scenes tours of both locations to see how the companies are run.

The donation will also fund taking select RPTA seniors to various California conferences, including the Visit California Tourism Outlook Forum in San Francisco in February, the CPRS Conference in Long Beach in March, and the Cal Travel Summit in Palm Springs in May. Senior RPTA students will be given the chance to express their interest in any of these conferences, and a select few will be chosen to attend with their professors. The donation from the Bickel Family makes trips like these possible.

RPTA faculty and students are honored to have received such a generous gift from the Bickel Family. We look forward to the many opportunities for seniors to develop their skills at conferences and trips in the upcoming years. Thank you, Michael, Lori, and Ali Bickel!

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Rho Phi Lambda Tours George P. Johnson and Explores Levi’s Stadium

 By Anna Bach RPTA ‘16

In November  members of the department’s honors society, Rho Phi Lambda, and RPTA Department Head Bill Hendricks visited Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., and the San Carlos, Calif. office of George P. Johnson for a professional development trip. It was a day full of networking, exclusive tours, learning about internship possibilities. 

The students started their day at Levi’s Stadium, where they met with RPTA alumna Darci Malone (‘12), an event coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. After graduation, Malone interned for the New York Mets and the Kansas City Chiefs. She told students how she applied for a marketing position at Levi’s Stadium without expecting much success. However, based on outstanding recommendations from her previous supervisors, she was offered the position. Malone reminded students that going the extra mile even in small and seemingly unimportant tasks goes a long way. Malone said that she believes the reason she got the job out of hundreds of other applicants was because she was a hard worker with a positive attitude for the Chiefs, who called repeatedly to recommend her to the San Francisco 49ers.

Malone showed Rho Phi Lambda members around the entire stadium, including the different spaces used for events. The new stadium has a multitude of elegant spaces for events, such as a rooftop terrace that is a popular space for weddings. Students were surprised to learn that Levi’s Stadium hosts more than 365 events each year, often with more than one event per day. Malone finished the tour by answering questions about her job and she gave students tips for applying to internships.

Rho Phi Lambda members and Professor Hendricks then drove to the George P. Johnson (GPJ) office in San Carlos. Marcelle Hampton, vice president and Yen Tsutsumi, executive director graciously gave students lunch, followed by a presentation on George P. Johnson and the available internship program. GPJ has 29 offices worldwide and hires a large number of Cal Poly RPTA interns each year.

During the presentation, company CEO Chris Meyer spoke with the students, giving the group insight on what it takes to be a successful intern for GPJ, and what he expects for the future of the company as experiential marketing becomes more mainstream.

After the presentation, Cal Poly alumni now working as GPJ interns gave Rho Phi Lambda members a tour of the office. They shared what they loved about interning for GPJ, including multiple opportunities for travel. Students also saw the “bull pen” where the 20 current interns work. Upon leaving, Hampton and Tsutsumi let Rho Phi Lambda members know that they would be doing interviews at Cal Poly in Winter Quarter, and hoped that many of them would apply. RPTA senior Jessica Mattson said that, “After our visit to George P. Johnson, I am interested in applying for an internship because they are able to extend the Cal Poly Learn by Doing motto to their internship program by giving their interns a lot of opportunity for growth.” Trips like these, organized by Rho Phi Lambda, are a wonderful way to strengthen the relationship between Rho Phi Lambda, Cal Poly RPTA, and its many partners in the recreation, parks, and tourism industries.

“This trip was worthwhile for Rho Phi Lambda members because they were able to ask questions and get a taste of different career opportunities,” said Mattson.

This trip set the bar for more excellent professional development trips with Rho Phi Lambda in 2016.

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Faculty Highlight: Jenn Prentice

By Simon Boehme (RPTA, ‘18)

Jenn Prentice –known as an approachable and engaging professor – has been teaching event planning for the Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration Department at Cal Poly for the past three years. From planning a spy conference to overseeing the RPTA 40th anniversary Auction and Dinner, Prentice has a range of experience she is eager to share with Cal Poly students. When not teaching, she spends much of her spare time caring for her two boys, Holden, 2-and-a-half years years and Brooks, 2 months.

Prentice grew up in Richmond, Va. and spent eight years in Raleigh, N.C. during college, grad school and post-graduation. She attended Campbell University, a small private school right outside of Raleigh for her undergraduate degree and North Carolina State University for graduate school. In 2008, she met her husband, who graduated with a master's in engineering from Cal Poly, through mutual friends. He was living and working in San Luis Obispo. Her first real job out of college was as a magazine editor in Raleigh, N.C., while she was working her way through graduate school. At the time, she also wrote and edited articles for a city-regional publication called Metro Magazine. Interestingly enough, that job gave Prentice the first taste of event planning when she was asked to plan the magazine's annual International Spy Conference. It was a small conference (about 100 people), and although it attracted a very select audience, the subject matter was fascinating and it taught her a lot about planning events.

Jenn Prentice Faculty HighlightInitially, Prentice’s intent was to pursue a career in news broadcasting, but after doing an internship at a television station, she realized that the shoe didn’t quite fit. After earning a master's degree in organizational communication from North Carolina State University, she was offered a position as an adjunct lecturer to teach public speaking. It was then she fell in love with teaching and decided to pursue it as a full-time career. Prentice realized her passion was in helping other people discover their talents and strengths. Effectively, she wants to help students thrive off of figuring out ways to use individual talents and strengths to the best of their ability. “Students often just need someone with a little more experience and wisdom to validate who they are and what they are good at and get them on the right path,” said Prentice. Prentice’s impression of the students in the RPTA Department has given a positive spin to her career and serves as motivation for her to excel as a teacher. She said that RPTA students are some of the most motivated and intelligent students she has encountered in the many places she has taught. The majority of her students in the department really care about producing quality work, landing good internships, and doing things that will benefit them in their future careers.

Following her job as a public speaking lecturer at North Carolina State University, Prentice decided to move across the country to California to pursue a relationship with her future husband, to whom she’s been married to for eight years. For a brief period of time, Prentice worked for a nonprofit water agency — planning all their board meetings and conferences. She later moved to San Luis Obispo and worked for a tech company where she planned and organized their trade show involvement and the TEDxSanLuisObispo conference. She also taught part time at Hancock College in Santa Maria. In December 2013, Prentice began working at Cal Poly, after meeting Professor Bill Hendricks at a planning meeting for TEDxSanLuisObispo.

In just a short time, Prentice has made a strong impression. Each quarter there are several students who rearrange their schedules just so they can have her as their professor. Nicolette Koukis (‘16) said, “After taking just one class with Prentice, she is without a doubt my favorite major professor.” She said Prentice is extremely flexible and always happy to accommodate students in need of a helping hand. Koukis added that Prentice went above and beyond for many students numerous times.

For the past three years, Prentice has gained a lot of knowledge and experience in teaching and has embraced the Learn by Doing concept. She said that the best way to mentor someone in event planning is to bring them along and demonstrate what you are doing. Consequently, if someone wants to be trained in event planning, Prentice says she will have them work on an event alongside her and assign them things to do, not just have them watch her, so that they can gain real work experience. She suggests that students ask questions and take notes throughout the entire process.

Prentice summed up her experiences by saying, “In every job I've had, I've been fortunate to work with very smart people who have taught me a lot. I think that there are learning opportunities everywhere, if you look for them. Sometimes it might mean learning what you don't want to do or learning how not to do something, but there are opportunities to learn everywhere.” Prentice also mentioned how much she loves the way events bring people together. People who might not ever interact with one another can attend an event and make a connection around a common interest that just might last a lifetime.

Prentice plans to stay at Cal Poly as long as there is a need for her in the RPTA Department.

The RPTA Department wishes Jenn Prentice and her family well in their future endeavors.

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RPTA Alumna Scores Her Way into the Cal Poly Hall of Fame

By Kristen Byron, (RPTA, ’17)

On Oct. 2, 2015, RPTA alumna Gina (Oceguera) Eagleson ‘00 was inducted into the Cal Poly Athletics Hall of Fame. Eagleson, a lifelong soccer player, played forward for the women’s soccer team during her college career at Cal Poly. She was surprised and honored to be among the Hall of Fame’s 123 inducted athletes and coaches.

The excitement began when she received a call from the athletic director explaining that she had been chosen for the Hall of Fame. “I had no idea it was coming – I was shocked,” Eagleson recalled. During her four-year Mustang soccer career, she scored 39 goals and had 17 assists, becoming the No. 2 all-time in career goals at Cal Poly with 39 goals scored and No. 3 for goals scored in a single season with 13 goals. Other awards include Big West Conference Player of the Year in 1997, Big West Conference First Team in 1997 and 1998, Big West Conference Second Team in 1999, All West Region Second Team in 1997 and 1998, and Second Team in Soccer Buzz Magazine in 1997. 

The ceremony took place at Cal Poly’s Chumash Auditorium. Eagleson described the ceremony as a very surreal experience and was amazed that she was among many names that she recognized. She was happy to see Professor Bill Hendricks and Carolyn Shank, a Cal Poly retired faculty member and Eagleson’s former professor and advisor, at the ceremony and appreciated their support. One of the most meaningful parts of the ceremony was hearing about the other inductees’ experiences at Cal Poly. “It was great to hear how much of an impact playing had on them in their lives and that they loved it as much as I did.”

Some of her favorite memories playing soccer at Cal Poly include playing on the team with her younger sister and seeing her parents come to many of her games. Eagleson looks back on many standout moments playing at Cal Poly, but one of her fondest is making it to the second round of NCAA playoffs in 1999 to play Stanford University. Another one of her favorite memories includes Cal Poly’s rivalry with University of California at Irvine. Eagleson recalls them being a big rival all four years and their matches were always a game more of heart than anything else.

Eagleson participated in the 1999 Women’s World Cup in Mexico during the summer prior to her senior year at Cal Poly. She was team captain for Mexico and played in three matches. After graduation, Eagleson was drafted by the San Diego Spirit and also played for the Bay Area Cyber Rays. As a Cyber Ray, she helped her team win the Women’s United Soccer Association championship.

Presently, Eagleson is a physical education instructor at Sierra Elementary and High School in San Jose, Calif., where she lives with her husband, Brian Eagleson and their two children. She continues to stay involved in soccer by coaching and directing World Cup soccer camps and clinics. “Enjoy the time you are there, take advantage of everything because there are so many things that you can learn,” Eagleson said.

The RPTA Department congratulates Eagleson on this great honor and all of her achievements!

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Recent Alumna Spotlight: Gina Giannosa

By Kristen Byron, (RPTA, ’17)

A recent RPTA graduate, Gina Giannosa (‘15) is spending her first few months of post-graduation life by working for the CRE Group. The CRE Group is a contracting company in San Francisco that works with a variety of businesses to aid them in project management, working with clients through every step of the process and representing them through the completion of sustainable projects.  

Giannosa is putting her RPTA degree to good use as she works as conference center coordinator, overseeing the behind-the-scenes aspects of an event. She is part of a team of four conference center coordinators who also work closely with audio-visual teams, facilities managers, customer service employees, and executive assistants to coordinate an event. Giannosa thrives in a team environment and it is one of the many things she enjoys about working with her company and immediate clients.

Apple, Inc. is one of the CRE Group clients and is Giannosa’s primary client as well. Her first impression of working with Apple was different than what she expected. She notes that although she originally thought that Apple was a futuristic, high-tech, company focused on inventing the next best thing, it is also an understanding and professional company that is concerned with present matters.

One of Giannosa’s favorite parts about her job is planning Apple’s Beer Bash Concert, which is a concert for Apple employees. The Beer Bash is hosted on Apple’s campus and Giannosa works with other teams to put on this concert. They provide entertainment, food, beer, and wine for employees to enjoy. She enjoys planning big social events like these not only because it is fun for the employees, but it is also fun for her to meet and interact with people on the other teams that help plan this event, too.

Giannosa is grateful for her RPTA education because it gave her hands-on experience in the field. The group projects and collaboration with classmates prepared her for the work environment she would enter. Her advice to students? Appreciate classes and professors because they are a great resource for help and advice. She also emphasized that students should not be discouraged if they are not doing exactly what they want. She recommends that students stay positive throughout college and after graduation, and recognize that every experience can be a learning experience.

The RPTA department wishes Giannosa the best of luck working with Apple, Inc. and in her future career!

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New Student Spotlight: Sam Rosenblum (’17)

By Simon Boehme (RPTA, ‘18)

Sam Rosenblum (‘17) has so far followed a rather untraditional path through higher education. From working as a culinary chef to training zoo animals — Rosenblum has always followed her passions and will continue to do so as she seeks her dream profession combining people, animals, and dream-come-true styled experiences.

Sam Rosenblum - New Student HighlightGrowing up in San Luis Obispo County, Rosenblum lived every child’s dream; she helped care for and train zoo animals, while traveling. Her extended family runs Zoo to You, an conservation focused traveling zoo in Atascadero, Calif. “We take animals that can no longer be rehabilitated into the wild, and use them for educational outreach purposes,” she said. The zoo travels to schools across the country to provide information and education about animals. Rosenblum has gone on the road with the zoo and often helps with Jack Hanna shows. “I’m the person backstage handling all the animals. I’m always in all black, and I run out and hand Jack the animal,” she said.

Working with animals provides her with many benefits, besides her own education and travel opportunities. “The animals teach me patience,” she said, as well as put her in a good mood. “Their lives are happy and positive and they make my life happy and positive.”

Another way Rosenblum adds happiness to her life is by creating beautiful and delicious pastries. Deciding that she wanted to own a small bakery, Rosenblum spent some time working in a restaurant kitchen. That experience changed her mind, and she decided she’d rather work in front of people as a culinary teacher.

In the midst of earning a culinary degree, she decided she needed a break from school and accepted an internship with Animal Kingdom at Disney World. This experience changed her career and educational path once again, and she decided she wanted a career with Disney. Her mentor at Disney suggested she first finish her college degree, so Rosenblum headed back to California to finish her degree in the RPTA program.

While interning at Disney World, Rosenblum had several life-changing experiences that ultimately made her want to work for Disney and in special events. First, there was the experience of getting waterlogged.

Rosenblum explained she was drinking a lot of water during hot summer days, but drank so much that she flushed all the electrolytes out of her body. One day while working, she passed out. Her boss immediately addressed the problem by stocking the freezer with electrolyte popsicles and the fridge with Gatorade for all employees.

“Most bosses care about benefitting their company,” Rosenblum said, “but Disney cared about the specific employees.”

Rosenblum’s mentor saw something special in her personality and work abilities and offered to show and teach her about as many different aspects of Disney as possible, and introduce her to important industry contacts. Rosenblum appreciated that Disney management valued training and advancing employees, not just keeping them at entry-level. “They make an effort to see you grow,” she said.

After about six months at Disney, and knowing she no longer wanted to be a culinary teacher, Rosenblum returned to California to finish her undergraduate degree. This past fall was only her first quarter in the department, but she almost has senior standing as she brought so many credits with her. She’s found all her classes interesting and useful. “Everything is something you can use in your everyday life. Every class I take …I can apply this in anything I decide to go into,” she said.

For her RPTA internship, she plans to return to Disney World and complete several of their internship opportunities including catering, event planning, and fairytale weddings. She said Disney World also has conservation programs and internship opportunities that are of interest to her, and that she’d be well qualified for with her zoo background.

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RPTA Club Update

By Sierra Frost (RPTA, ’17)

The RPTA Club is in full swing and diving head first into winter quarter. The RPTA Club, led by President Emily Bishop (‘17), is a student organization focused on serving all students interested in RPTA. The club strives to provide education, and hands-on social opportunities for students to expand their knowledge of the field, work toward their goal of 1,000 community service hours, and ultimately make connections within their major. Social Chair Logan Dosker (‘17) said that the club is also a great way for students to meet others students who share the same passion for recreation. “I also hope we can help raise awareness of the necessity and consistency of Recreation, Parks and Tourism in our everyday lives,” he said.

With a lineup of both new and returning officers, the club has made large strides in the increasing the scale of its events, recruiting new members, and encouraging member participation. “I love being a leader in the RPTA Club because we get to do so many different activities. The major allows us to explore all different sorts of experiential programs and it’s fun to integrate that into our club,” said Dosker.

 Already this year, RPTA Club has participated in WOW showcase, Scott Tinley’s annual triathlon, and the Cal Poly Pumpkin Patch. Club leaders plan to repeat last year’s successful trip to Hearst Castle, start an annual camping trip to Big Sur, Calif., and are hoping to plan a trip to the World of Harry Potter! These adventures have attracted many new and returning students to the club.

While events and trips are a major part of the club, it is also devoted to helping students with networking and professional development. Guest speakers are often invited to meetings. In the past, representatives from HBO, the SLO Blues Baseball Team, and surrounding parks and recreation organizations have presented and given students insight about their careers, as well as information on possible internships or future career opportunities. The increasing number of events and guests is leading to increased member involvement.

To learn more or join the RPTA Club, email or visit their social media pages links to their facebook and instagram page

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Meet the Staff for "The Report" Winter 2016 Newsletter

Staff for "The Report" are nominated by RPTA faculty for demonstrating excellent writing skills in RPTA classes. Student writers then coordinate with the editor and faculty advisor Dr. Keri Schwab to develop and write articles.

The co-editors for 2015-16 are Alyssa Beatton (RPTA '16) & Anna Bach (RPTA '17). Alyssa & Anna honed their skills as staff writers and are now in their first year as co-editors.

The staff writers for "The Report" include Sierra Frost (RPTA '15), Simon Boheme (RPTA '17), and Kristen Byron (RPTA '17).

Meet the student staff .... read more


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