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Winter 2017 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 possibilitiesWelcome to 2017 from the Experience Industry Management Department! Forty years ago, it was inconceivable that someday we would be pushing the envelope as one of the first academic programs in the country to embrace the “experience industry” as a building block to our future and a critical link to our past. Yet, that is where we find ourselves as we embark on the beginning of the fifth decade of a recreation major at Cal Poly.

In terms of our evolution, embracing the experience economy and phenomenon first introduced by B. Joseph Pine and James H. Gilmore in 1999 makes perfect sense. Park and recreation academic programs in California that primarily focused on public and nonprofit agencies enjoyed their heyday in the 1960s and 1970s.

Commercial recreation was ushered in during the 1980s, thanks to the pioneering work of our very own Professor John Bullaro. By the end of the ’80s, tourism was in vogue and had become a dominant force and an area of interest to students for the next decade or so. In the mid- to late 1990s, program design and planning courses began to embrace event planning as a critical element, in part, to meet student interests and the changing landscape of the industries that we serve.

We jumped on the event planning bandwagon early, led by the curriculum development of Professor Carolyn Shank and later by the leadership of lecturer Kendi Root, as event planning literally exploded at Cal Poly and within many other recreation-related majors across the country. Since the turn of the century, a shift from recreation and leisure studies and recreation administration academic department titles to those with parks, recreation and tourism have become prevalent. Since that time, there has been some fracturing of department titles with tourism, sport management and hospitality coming under the purview of many of the original recreation programs.

For example, in California some of the original recreation and recreation administration academic program titles have evolved into Recreation, Hospitality and Parks Management at CSU, Chico; Recreation and Tourism Management at CSU, Northridge; Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism at CSU East Bay; Recreation, Parks, and Tourism at San Francisco State, and Recreation and Health Sciences at San Jose State. Two of the larger programs in the country -- the University of Florida and the University of Illinois -- now have titles of Tourism, Recreation and Sport Management and Recreation, Sport and Tourism, respectively. The most recent contemporary move has been at Brigham Young University, where they have been offering a specialization in Experience Industry Management within a Recreation Management degree for about five years.

At Cal Poly, our faculty had been searching for an umbrella to describe parks, recreation, sport, hospitality, travel, tourism, community, events, adventure, and the outdoors. We firmly believe that Experience Industry Management fits the bill. Think about your experiences attending a park ranger interpretive program at Yosemite National Park, a festival in your community, an event for your company or clients, or a Cal Poly football game. How about waiting hours to get the perfect spot to watch the Tournament of Roses Parade, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, or surfing in Costa Rica? Perhaps you have stayed in an ecolodge, at a campsite overlooking an alpine lake, at a hostel, or in a five-star hotel. Maybe you and your friends or family have been ardent supporters and participants in youth sports programs, 10K runs, community centers and senior adult recreation programs. All of these programs, places, and events are experiences that have been designed, planned and orchestrated for the participants’ and guests’ enjoyment, quality of life, and a search for meaningful moments in our everyday lives.

Drum roll, please. Experience Industry Management is born. Although we can’t lay claim to first on the block, we are certain that we are blazing new territory that will set the standard for academic programs well into the future.

In closing, I hope you all enjoy a winter season that is filled with healthy lifestyles, memorable places, and life-enhancing experiences.    

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Annual Auction and Dinner Set for March 11

By Kat Porter (RPTA ’17,) staff writer

Live and silent auctions, mysterious activities, and a sumptuous dinner prepared by local caterer Field to Table are all on tap as part of the Experience Industry Management (EIM) Department’s annual Auction and Dinner, set for Saturday, March 11, at the San Luis Obispo Veterans Hall.

Be sure to purchase your tickets and prepare for this year’s theme, “EIM Unsolved,” which pulls back the curtain on the department’s new name. Auction items preview here.

In addition to celebrating the department’s milestone name change from Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration to Experience Industry Management, the Auction and Dinner will also pay tribute to the remarkable alumni, students, parents and industry friends who contribute to department’s success.

The event –- the department’s main fundraiser -- is planned and executed by a committee of EIM students, including this year’s event chair Brooke Campbell (’17) and advised by faculty member Jenn Prentice. Campbell has served as a committee member for three years and looks forward to this new challenge.

“This student-run event is something that I look the most forward to each year,” Campbell said. “Working on the auction is so rewarding and offers the opportunity to work closely with EIM faculty, Advisory Council members, and the local businesses that support our department with sponsorships and donations.”

The annual event also truly encompasses Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing approach by providing students with hands-on event planning experience.

Proceeds from the event benefit EIM students and the department. Money raised from previous auctions and dinners has contributed to student success by:

  • Supporting student and faculty travel to presentations, conferences, events, and meetings​
  • Hosting renowned executives like Brad Gessner Sr., vice president and general manager, Los Angeles Convention Center – AEG Facilities
  • Supporting the San Luis Obispo Junior Giants youth baseball program
  • Partnering with San Luis Obispo Blues Baseball and Adam Stowe, the Blues General Manager
  • Establishing the Michael and Lori Bickel RPTA Senior Professional Development Fund
  • Supporting activities of Cal Poly’s chapter of Rho Pi Lambda, the industry’s professional honorary society, and the RPTA Club
  • Endowing the Jodi Hamp Fisher Scholarship
  • Offering the George P. Johnson Community Service and Leadership Award
  • Establishing the Cynthia Moyer and John Bullaro Scholarship
  • Supporting ongoing efforts of the Experience Industry Management Advisory Council.

Please support the Experience Industry Management Department Student Programs by attending this night of celebration and mystery.

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Summer Undergraduate Research Program

By PJ Repetto, (RPTA, '17)

New this year, Cal Poly's College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences sponsored the Summer Undergraduate Research Program, giving two Experience Industry Management (EIM) Department faculty members and three students an opportunity to participate in summer 2016.

Professor Kevin Lin teamed up with students Jack Elder (’17) and Candice Walton (’17) to study the “impact of internet usage on attendees’ spending at the state fair.” Their biggest challenges were narrowing the topic and getting the unwilling guests to stop and fill out a survey at the state fairs. Despite these difficulties, the team was able to communicate and effectively work on the project over the summer by staying in close contact with one another from different locations and keeping up to date on research and data.

Overall the team collaborated well together, and Elder and Walton presented an informative and professional presentation on their findings. They found the Summer Undergraduate Research Program to be a valuable experience. “I would definitely recommend it to other students, especially if they want to get ahead on their senior projects and get paid to do it,” Elder said.

Professor Keri Schwab and student Paula Kreider (’17) focused their research on “motivation to participate in charity sporting events, specifically among breast cancer survivors and their supporters.” With support from Professor Marni Goldenberg, the team worked with the Young Survivors Coalition to retrieve data through a survey on Tour de Pink, the organization’s 200-mile cycling event.

“I really enjoyed the topic because I felt like our research was meaningful and helpful,” Kreider said. She also gained new insight into what it takes to put on an event like the Tour de Pink. Schwab and Kreider collaborated via online Google Documents, where they put together the literary review.

Schwab was pleased to stay connected over the summer. “It was great to have a summer project to work on and stay connected to students and research,” she said.
At the project’s completion, Kreider participated in a symposium with her peers in the Undergraduate Student Research Program. Schwab and Kreider recommend the Summer Undergraduate Research Program to students looking to get a new perspective on planning and research.

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Brad Gessner, Executive in Residence

By Kat Porter, (RPTA, ’17), staff writer

Brad Gessner, senior vice president of AEG Worldwide and general manager of the Los Angeles Convention Center, served as a Cal Poly executive in residence fall quarter 2016, sharing his industry knowledge with students, faculty, staff and community members.

At AEG, Gessner oversees the Convention Center’s Department of AEG Facilities and is responsible for the overall management of the Los Angeles Convention Center, a venue that attracts millions of visitors annually and holds over 200 diverse events ranging from electronic dance music concerts to auto shows. 

Gessner’s residency was hosted by the Experience Industry Management Department.

During a public keynote presentation, he explained the contributions that AEG has made to the Los Angeles Convention Center, emphasizing how AEG’s focus on sustainability, safety and positive guest experience has had a large impact on the Convention Center’s success. 

Gessner also lectured in classes and met with students in small groups, giving students relevant personal and professional advice. With nearly 40 years working in the experience management industry, Gessner was able to give sound advice to the aspiring professionals: be patient, work hard, and learn about the experience industry from the ground up. When asked about his longevity in the industry, his response was thoughtful but immediate. “It’s always interesting; there’s no boredom. You’re not sitting in a cubicle, and you are working with so many different people everyday. My job is half work and half fun.”  

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She's Udderly Fantastic - See Cow Do  

By Kristen Byron, (RPTA, ’17) Editor

The Experience Industry Management (EIM) Department is sponsoring “See Cow Do,” a 120-pound colorful fiberglass cow that is part of the San Luis Obispo CowParade – an exhibit of 101 life-sized bovines on display around the county until they are auctioned in May 2017.

“See Can Do” was painted especially for Cal Poly’s EIM Department by local multimedia artist Deprise Brescia. It is one of five Cal Poly-sponsored cows displayed on campus. The proceeds from the auction of “See Cow Do” will benefit EIM students by supporting scholarships, professional development field trips, and student travel to conferences.

“See Cow Do” is designed to trigger a rush of memories and experiences of some of California’s most beautiful natural sights, with references to Yosemite, Monterey Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and many other scenic sights from all over the state. Brescia was inspired by the EIM Department’s motto -- Live. Protect. Explore. -- and by the essence of the recreation, parks and tourism field.

When brainstorming artistic ideas for the cow, Brescia wanted to capture the epitome of California. “What would be iconic,” she wondered. EIM Department Head Bill Hendricks allowed Brescia freedom to play with the art piece. “He was so open to my wild ideas,” Brescia said. In the end, she combined her interest in pop art, her love for natural beauty, and her understanding of the recreation, parks and tourism field to create “See Cow Do.” She loved the challenge of taking different elements and bringing them together into what she calls “beautiful artistic chaos.” .

You are invited to vote for “See Cow Do”, here! Cal Poly Experience Industry Management Department appreciates your help in supporting EIM students!


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Department Welcomes New Advisory Council Members

By staff writer

Experience Industry Management Department has welcomed five new Advisory Council members since fall 2016.  The Advisory Council comprises industry professionals who lend support and guidance to the Experience Industry Management Department, faculty, and students in an effort to prepare students for their future careers.

The Experience Industry Management Advisory Council and the department faculty aim to maintain the excellence of the recreation, parks, and tourism administration program through the traditional and honored Learn by Doing method.

Advisory Council members serve as a valuable link between the department and its stakeholders by providing counsel, aiding in the formulation and promotion of the goals and objectives of the program, supporting faculty in their unique roles in educating the future leaders of experience industry management, and helping to seek public and private support.

Membership to the Advisory Council comes through invitations made by Andrew Thulin, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, on behalf of President Jeffrey D. Armstrong, based on nominations from the Experience Industry Management Department head.  Members serve for a three-year term and may be re-appointed.

These new advisory council members join an outstanding and dedicated council that care deeply about the future of Cal Poly and the Experience Industry Management Department.  New members are:

James Flagg, president, Ocean Park Hotels Inc.
Lindsey Hayford, director, Business Operations at A23Advisors
Amber Karson, owner, Karson Butler Events
Lori Keller, vice president of Strategy & Marketing Martin Resorts
Wyatt Mello, executive vice president, Laral Group


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Perceptions of Experience Industry Management Department Name Change

By PJ Repetto (RPTA '17) staff writer

When the Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration Department changed its name to Experience Industry Management Department, I set out to discover students' perceptions of the new name.

I interviewed students Emily Bishop (’17), Reanne Franco (’17) and Jenna Arocha (’17). They overwhelming agreed that the new name represents the growth, direction, and expansion of the major at Cal Poly.

The word “experience” in the new name will give everyone a better idea of what the major entails: using experiences to help influence and change people’s lives for the better.

“Before people thought we were studying how to become park rangers,” Bishop said. “But now we can say that we are creating experiences. That is what our industry is all about.”

"The new name is a more accurate representation of what we are learning", Franco said. “Experience Industry Management may seem ambiguous to those who aren't in the industry because our major isn't your typical major. However, it does explain our curriculum in the simplest terms.”

The change is being embraced by current students in the major. Experience Industry Management is steadily becoming just as familiar as Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration. Experience Industry Management highlights key program focuses of traditional events, hospitality, and tourism and also facilitates learning in business, sociology and the arts,” Arocha said.

In the department's highly-valued Learn-by-doing tradition, the new department name reflects the ever-changing industry trends and innovations that our students, faculty, and key partners embrace. 

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In the Big Leagues Now - Four Alumni Share Their Experiences in the Sports Industry 

By Chelcy Westphal (RPTA, ‘17) staff writer

Four recent Cal Poly sport management concentration alumni talk about what it’s like to work in professional sports industry. Major League Soccer, Major League Baseball, and the National Football League are some of the organizations Cal Poly graduates are associated with.

According to associate professor and sport management coordinator Brian Greenwood, the sport management concentration is flourishing in the Experience Industry Management Department, and the number of alumni landing jobs with professional sports teams has grown exponentially during his 10-years at Cal Poly. “We make professional preparation a priority, and with Learn by Doing as a focal point, sport management students start building their experience right away with organizations such as Cal Poly Athletics and the SLO Blues. It’s beginning to pay dividends, and we’re seeing the growth firsthand with an increased number of graduates moving on to jobs with professional sports franchises.”

Recent graduate Jayme Bermudez (’16) works for the Cleveland Browns, applying the skills she learned studying recreation, parks, and tourism administration (RPTA) and being involved in fundraising efforts, game day events, and community action with partners. She was introduced to the sports industry while still a student at Cal Poly, working under Greenwood and assisting in Junior Giants research, Cal Poly Athletics, and SLO Blues baseball.

After graduation, Bermudez worked with the Australian Baseball League in game day promotions. She credits her success to the hard work she had to put in to earn her degree: completing 1,000 hours of work and volunteer experience plus a 400-hour internship. She also said the hands-on experience she gained as a student allowed her to exceed in the big leagues.

Matt Hanson (’13), account executive on the season ticket sales team for the San Jose Earthquakes, a Major League Soccer team in San Jose, Calif., said the RPTA major prepared him well for real life by showing him how to “be comfortable with the uncomfortable.” His experience at Cal Poly encouraged him to seek out opportunities in the industry to fulfill the required 1,000 hours of work experience. Through this, Hanson acquired “people skills” -- a skill that can’t be taught in the classroom.

Tyler Nigro (’15) is grateful to the department for teaching him how to promote an experience through effective social interaction with others. Nigro is an inside sales representative for Major League Baseball team the Washington Nationals. His job relies on his ability to sell an experience. He said the out-of-classroom, interactive, hands-on experience and the social interaction sets Cal Poly RPTA students apart from the rest.

Stepping outside your comfort zone is something Melissa Moberg (’14) mentioned as pivotal to her success in the sports industry. “The required 1,000 hours of work experience was the biggest benefit of the RPTA program,” said Moberg, also an account executive for the San Jose Earthquakes. “You are able to experience a broad field and find what you like and don’t like in your niche.” Moburg’s desire to work in Major League Soccer was sparked while an undergraduate working for Cal Poly Men’s Soccer. After graduation, she worked for the Major League Soccer Sale Center in Minnesota before landing the job with the Earthquakes.

Moberg’s best take-away advice to those seeking similar career paths is to “take risks, test the boundaries, and put yourself out there!” In addition to volunteering and getting experience in the industry, Moberg urges undergraduates to reach out to alumni to make connections.

Some additional Cal Poly sport management alumni in the “big leagues” include: Brianna Davoren and Dave Smith with the Los Angeles Angels, Brooks Lambertson with the Los Angeles Clippers, Alex Biller with the San Diego Chargers, Eric Eyler with the Oakland Raiders, Lindsay Campbell with the Sacramento Kings, Bryce Schomberg with the San Antonio Spurs, and Amanda Behrendt with the San Jose Sharks.

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Faculty Research - Bringing New Knowledge to the Classroom

By Kristen Byron, (RPTA, ’17), Editor

Not only are Experience Industry Management (EIM) Department professors busy teaching and preparing students for post-graduation life, they are also working on research of their own.

Professors Susan Mackenzie, Keri Schwab and Kevin Lin have been contributing greatly to the growth of the field and bringing new knowledge and concepts to the classroom.

In October, Mackenzie attended the Adventure Tourism Research Association Conference in Tralee, Ireland, where researchers and practitioners worked together to help bridge the gap between academics and industry.

Attendees discussed current issues and ways to use research and theory to inform practice. Mackenzie presented on two research projects she has been developing. In her first presentation, she talked about reconnecting underserved youth with nature through a sense of adventure using various forms of social media. Her second presentation focused on integrating positive psychology and adventure to facilitate and structure experiences.

Mackenzie’s future research will explore what happens during adventure and how it affects the well-being of humans. Her research is intended to bolster university courses and help agencies and other researchers by contributing to the industry’s pool of knowledge.

“One of my favorite parts about attending the conference was networking and connecting with colleagues from all over the world because it sparks creativity in research and teaching,” Mackenzie said, adding that it was also exciting to learn that universities in Norway have used her research in classes.

Also in October, Schwab attended the National Recreation Park Association (NRPA) annual conference in St. Louis, Mo. She and two colleagues from the University of Utah gave presentations on a series of videos about the history and the start of the national parks and national parks service directors. “It’s an introduction to our field, why it exists, and how it came to be,” she said. Schwab and her colleagues designed the videos to be used in introductory level university classes. Schwab, Lin and Department Head Bill Hendricks presentation provided a historical view of national parks. They too were able to reconnect and network with colleagues. The Experience Industry Management Department is fortunate to have knowledgeable professors dedicated to both the growth of the industry and its students!

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Recreation, Parks, & Tourism Administration Club and Rho Phi Lambda Updates

By Nicky Fitzsimons, (RPTA, ’17), staff writer

The Cal Poly Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration Club (RPTA) and academic fraternity Rho Phi Lambda are two great ways for students to stay connected and network.

Recently, Rho Phi Lambda President Corinne Smith (’17), Experience Industry Management Department student assistant Sam Keipert (’17), and RPTA Club President Megan Stith (‘17), attended the fall Experience Industry Management Advisory Council meeting at Swanton Pacific Ranch to discuss the future of the department, the curriculum, and the direction of the industry.

Rho Phi Lambda and the RPTA Club are always looking for ways to enhance students’ learning experiences and provide new opportunities.

Current plans include two professional development trips to help members gain insight on what they want to do as professionals.

Another planned event is the Rho Phi Lambda Career Fair, held each winter or spring, to help students find potential jobs and internships.

This is a great way to keep students involved and active within the major and industry.

The RPTA Club is also engaging students with fun and exciting networking activities and events to stay connected. Club members have planned a camping trip to San Simeon as a way to escape the stress of midterms. The club also celebrated the holiday season by hosting a Friendsgiving in November and an ice-skating party in December.

Rho Phi Lambda and the RPTA Club are two essential organizations to the Experience Industry Management Department and continue to offer students great opportunities. The groups aim to engage all students and to foster professional and independent growth.

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Student Summer Santos Awarded Mary Stuart Rogers Scholarship

 By Nicky Fitzsimons (RPTA ‘17) staff writer

One deserving Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration (RPTA) student was among 25 Cal Poly students who received a Mary Stuart Rogers Scholarship, awarded for a commitment to leadership and the desire to help others through community service, academic clubs and service groups.

Summer Santos (’17), a fourth year RPTA student from Turlock, Calif., received the scholarship, which is funded by the Roger Family Foundation to benefit people who have the goal or desire to “inspire others to get out into nature and foster stewardship of their community.”

The Roger Family Foundation is committed to fostering education and helping those who are dedicated to their same cause.

Santos aims to one day work at a land trust or become an environmental educator. She plans to use the knowledge she gained from the outdoor recreation and resource management concentration to foster the education and commitment of people to their community.

Santos is already involved with groups in San Luis Obispo County. Throughout her time at Cal Poly, she has led several groups of people and has mentored girls through an on-campus Christian organization called CRU formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ. Her leadership and commitment are inspiring others and helping them see the benefit and value that even a small amount of education and dedication can bring to the environment.

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Outward Bound Experiences - Summer 2016

By Chelcy Westphal (RPTA, ‘18)

Two Experience Industry Management students were given the experience of a lifetime during summer 2016, thanks to Outward Bound, an internationally recognized outdoor education and experience provider.

Austin Longacre (’18) and Summer Santos (’17) were awarded scholarships to participate in two of the organization’s backpacking trips. They each set out on their own adventure into the Ansel Adams Wilderness in California’s Sierra Nevada.

Longacre traveled almost 60 miles on a 22-day venture; Santos embarked on a 10-day trek.

The scholarships covered the students’ trip expenses plus a new pair of boots for their arduous journey.

Longacre, a third-year sports management concentration student, said the trip was “an inexplicably profound experience I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Each day in the wilderness provided Longacre with different challenges, both mentally and physically. In addition to hours of high alpine hiking, he spent approximately 50 hours alone in the woods without food, describing the experience as his “greatest time of self-reflection and discovery.”

He returned to San Luis Obispo with an increased sense of gratitude.

Santos spent her 10 days at Courtright Reservoir in the Sierra Nevada Forest. As an outdoor recreation and resource management concentration student, Santos said she felt right at home in this environment. She spent her days backpacking, canyoneering and scrambling. She also developed conflict resolution skills with the help of her group.

Santos expressed her affinity for the time she spent in solitude. “This trip reaffirmed that nature is something good for your soul, and there is beauty in just being still.”

Longacre and Santos highly recommend others to experience what Outward Bound has to offer.

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Meet the Staff for "The Report" Winter 2017 Newsletter

Staff for "The Report" are nominated by EIM 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.​Cal Poly The Report Student Staff

The Editor for 2016-17 is Kristen Byron (RPTA '17). Kristen honed her skills as a staff writer and is now in her first year as editor.

The staff writers for "The Report" include Chelcy Westphal (RPTA '17), Nicky Fitzsimons (RPTA '17), PJ Repetto (RPTA '17), and Kat Porter (RPTA '17).

Meet the student staff .... read more

Give back now

How do I give to Cal Poly's Experience Industry Management Department and the Recreation, Parks, & Tourism Administration Program?

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