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Winter 2018 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 possibilities

In 1992, following the elimination of Cal Poly’s College of Professional Studies and a subsequent move to the College of Agriculture and the Natural Resources Management Department, the Recreation Administration program began to rebuild under the leadership of Professor and Program Coordinator Carolyn Shank. The transition to a new academic home resulted in a reduction in the number of full-time faculty from five to two and a drop-in enrollment from approximately 225 to 165 students. Fast forward to fall 2017, as we reached an all-time high of 355 undergraduate students, seven tenure-track faculty, and the prospects of a significant portion of Cal Poly’s record number of 65,000-plus applicants joining us in fall 2018. As you will read in this issue of The Report, our future is bright, and we will certainly “Light Up the Night” at our 2018 Experience Industry Management Auction and Dinner on Feb. 24 and beyond.

In fact, the night sky is already shining bright! Please join me in welcoming Professor David Jones to the faculty. Jones, with four decades of hospitality management professional and academic experience, will be a key player as we add additional hospitality courses to our curriculum. You can read more about his numerous accomplishments in this issue of the newsletter. As you immerse yourself in The Report, you will also get a chance to read about the innovative undergraduate research being conducted by Keri Schwab and Kevin Lin and undergraduate students Derek Johnson-May, Bella Zaayer and Mia Ferrar. Be sure not to miss alumna Katherine Soule’s atmospheric rise as a key leader in our community, Rho Phi Lambda’s behind the scenes view of Dreamforce and the experiences of our interns and alumni working with one of our key industry partners, Launch Inc.

In closing, please join us on Feb. 24 at The Cliffs Resort for our primary fundraising event of the year. I truly wish you all a 2018 that is filled with healthy lifestyles, memorable places and life-enhancing experiences.

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Annual Auction and Dinner Set for February 24, 2018

By Olivia Van Hoy ('18) auction committee member

Live and silent auctions, exciting activities, and a sumptuous catered dinner are on tap as part of the Experience Industry Management (EIM) Department’s annual auction and dinner set for Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, at The Cliff’s Resort in Pismo Beach, California.  

Be sure to save the date and prepare for this year’s theme, “Light Up the Night,” which highlights the department’s success! Purchase tickets >>

The annual event truly encompasses Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing approach by providing students with hands-on event planning experience. The evening is planned and executed by a committee of EIM students and advised by faculty member Amber Karson.

Student Auction Committee Chair Claire Scheibe ('18) said, “The auction and dinner is a rewarding experience due to the fact that during the planning process, we get to work with fellow EIM peers and gain valuable experience in the field. We’re looking forward to this year’s auction and anticipate it will be one of the best yet, thanks to local businesses that generously support our department through donations and sponsorships.”

In addition to raising money to support faculty and student development, the annual
auction and dinner is also an opportunity to pay tribute to the remarkable alumni, students, parents and industry friends who contribute to the department’s success.

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 “learn by going” attendance at conferences, industry meetings and study abroad opportunities.
  • Hosting renowned executives, thereby alerting students and faculty to the latest industry trends.
  • Implementing the Learn by Doing motto with direct field experience.
  • Offering scholarships for the major’s international study courses.
  • Supporting faculty applied research projects.
  • Supporting ongoing efforts of the Experience Industry Management Advisory Council.
  • Partnering with San Luis Obispo Blues Baseball and Junior Giants youth programs.
  • Providing academic scholarships, including the John Bullaro and Cynthia Moyer Scholarship.
  • Purchasing computer software and analytics programs to enhance student learning.
  • Developing partnerships with international universities in our discipline.

Please support EIM student programs by attending this vibrant night of celebration! 

    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:
    From Pokemon Go to the Mid State Fair


    Three Experience Industry Management (EIM) Department students and three faculty members who started new research projects and began gathering data this summer demonstrated that EIM students and faculty never stop learning or doing.  

    Professors Keri Schwab and Kevin Lin both received College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) grants to conduct research over summer quarter. The program supports undergraduate student’s hands-on involvement in a faculty-supervised research project, from conceptualization to presentation. Senior Derek Johnson-May (’18) worked with Schwab on a qualitative study of adult professionals who play the virtual mobile game Pokémon Go. Seniors Bella Zaayer (’18) and Mia Ferrar (’18)
    worked with Lin to study the impact of internet and social media use on event attendee satisfaction and spending at the California Mid-State Fair.

    Johnson-May conducted interviews with adults as they played Pokémon Go in parks and on piers around the Central Coast. He recorded and transcribed the interviews and later helped to code and analyze the data. He said he was amazed to learn how much the video game impacted people’s lives “for the better and the worse,” he said. Gathering data felt like a more natural process for him as he had already taken EIM 360: Evaluation and Assessment Methods in EIM. “I applied a lot of coursework, especially when it came to writing questions to get what we needed to know from the interviewee without swaying their response,” he said. Overall, the experience helped him “understand how research is conducted and how to set goals to make the work more manageable,” a skill he will take into future employment. 

    Zaayer and Ferrar learned that gathering data can be a sweaty affair, even on the Central Coast. The two stood at the gates of the Mid-State Fair in 95 degree heat in July asking passers-by to take a survey. “I learned that a lot of locals who attend the Mid-State Fair are willing to help Cal Poly students. Trying to survey people and getting turned down a lot was discouraging, but in the end, it gave me great experience at getting out of my comfort zone,” Zaayer said. 

    The students presented their findings at a poster session on campus in late August, and all said they would recommend a SURP experience to other EIM students. “SURP helped me apply things I learned in class to something in real life, Zaayer said. “Working with a research partner also gave me more experience working in a team. It was also great working closely with Dr. Lin and having him help us when we were struggling; he was very encouraging and helpful.”

    The Summer Undergraduate Research Program is open to students looking to get a new perspective on planning and research. Stop by and visit Dr. Lin or Dr. Schwab during their office hours if you are interested in learning more about how you can participate in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program in summer 2018.

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    Largest Freshman Class Joins EIM Department

    By Anna Levine, (’20)

    The Experience Industry Management (EIM) Department this fall welcomed the largest incoming class in the department’s history. This large class of 110 new students includes 87 freshman and 23 transfer students eager to begin their Mustang careers.

    This large class resulted in the department offering two sections of EIM 101: Introduction to Experience Industry Management. One freshman, Courtney Slamon, readily immersed herself in Mustang pride. During the fall, she was enrolled in EIM 101 taught by Professor Brian Greenwood. She said the experience was an honest representation of her future as an EIM student. The intimate class setting provided a space for natural group discussions and for fostering friendships with her EIM peers. Truly embracing the department’s core values of community and collaboration, Slamon joined the EIM Club and attended a few club events during her first quarter. She looks forward to becoming more involved throughout her years at Cal Poly.

    Like Slamon, many students joined the EIM Club this fall as a way to immerse themselves in the department. According to EIM Club President Grace Roman (’18), the club’s first event was a success because of the substantial number of new students joining. For the upcoming year, Roman hopes to increase EIM industry professional speakers as well as incorporate more social events in order to build an intimate community in the EIM Department.

    In addition, Roman aims to create more outreach to high school students as a way to keep the department growing. Roman didn’t enroll in the EIM major until she was more than half way through her Cal Poly career. She intends to shed light on the EIM program to ease the transition for future EIM students.

    The EIM Department has undergone many changes over the years, but it continues to attract passionate students who will continue their mission of advancing leadership and knowledge in experiential industry management. Photo courtesy of EIM student Grace Roman.

    Cal Poly Experience Industry Management Welcomes New Faculty Member in Hospitality Management

    The Experience Industry Management Departments welcomes new faculty member  David Jones.

    Prior to his recent arrival at Cal Poly, Jones taught at Singapore Institute of Technology and provided leadership as program director. His research interests include hotel and tourism management.

    “David is an extraordinary addition to our program and team of faculty,” said Professor and Department Head Bill Hendricks. “Beginning winter quarter, he will teach the core courses RPTA 114: Introduction to Hospitality and RPTA 221: Professionalism and Customer Experiences, combining his unique blend of international tourism and hospitality industry experience with his solid international academic credentials to expand our dynamic student learning environment.”

    Jones has more than 40 years of experience in research and experiential teaching.

    He earned an MBA in hotel, restaurant and institutional management from Michigan State University and a doctorate in hotel and tourism management from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

    Stop by and welcome Jones to campus. His office is located in Room 252 in the Agricultural Sciences Building (No. 11).  

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    Rho Phi Lambda Members Attend Dreamforce
    By Geri Pirkle, (’20)

    Nine EIM students traveled to San Francisco in November to attend Dreamforce, the largest software conference in the world, for a behind-the-scenes look at a mega corporate event.

    Dreamforce, hosted by Salesforce, draws more than 170,000 attendees and is designed and staged by George P. Johnson, a Bay Area experiential marketing firm that hires many EIM interns and graduates.

    The student attendees -- all members of Rho Phi Lambda, the recreation industry’s honor society -- attended the conference to learn what goes into putting on such a large event, including registration processes, attendee profile information, and company culture.

    The experience provided a firsthand look at many EIM course concepts. “It was incredible to see so many things I have learned about in our classes come to life on such a large scale,” said Joanne Kirkby (’18). “Every part of the event that we saw was seamless, and the attention to detail was impressive. It made me excited and proud to be a part of an incredible industry that creates and facilitates amazing experiences for people.”

    The students also took part in more intimate aspects of the conference, such as breakout sessions and one-on-one conversations with industry professionals. “The break-out venues within the conference … allowed us to get a complete overview of the keynote speakers, exposition centers and innovation sessions,” said Alexa Szabo ('18). “Another great opportunity was talking to multiple Salesforce professionals to hear about their experiences in the industry.”

    For seniors, the event was particularly eye-opening as they look for their first professional job in the industry. “I learned that there are so many moving parts to this event due to the large amount of sponsors Salesforce acquires. It made me realize that I have a passion for large-scale, corporate events and hope to work on events like these in my near future,” said Claire Scheibe ('18).

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    Spotlight on Alumna Dr. Katherine Soule

    Cal Poly alumna Katherine E. Soule (Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration; M.S., Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration, director of UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, was recognized recently as a “Top 20 Under 40” award winner by the San Luis Obispo Tribune. The award honors the accomplishments and achievements of women and men under the age of 40 who have demonstrated excellence in their professions and a commitment to community service.
    Soule, who has also earned a doctorate, said her time at Cal Poly prepared her for an amazing path of learning, fun and adventure. While pursuing a master’s degree in agriculture with a specialization in recreation, parks, and tourism administration, she built a foundation in academia and as an administrator. When she began the master’s program, Soule was planning a career as a park ranger, but after studying theory, learning about applied research and evaluation, and working as a graduate assistant, she realized her lifelong love of learning would be better suited to an academic career. With recommendations by Department Head Bill Hendricks and Professor Marni Goldenberg, Soule was nominated and selected for the Future Scholars Award from the Academy of Leisure Sciences. On a trip to Minnesota with department faculty (and a three-week-old baby) to attend the National Recreation and Park Association professional conference she began building relationships with faculty and scholars from across the country. Photo Courtesy, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). 

    Her love of scholarship and inquiry led her to enroll in a life-changing doctoral program at the University of Georgia in Athens, while still maintaining close ties with faculty at Cal Poly. In 2013, Soule was hired as the first youth, families and communities advisor for UCCE in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. She was thrilled to move back to San Luis Obispo to put her passion and education to use in supporting leisure-time activities and experiences for residents on the Central Coast, including overseeing volunteers, 4-H youth development, nutrition, and food preservation courses. In July 2017, Soule accepted an additional appointment as director of Cooperative Extension in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. While her career path has taken twists and turns she was not anticipating when she began the master’s degree program, those experiences prepared her well for the wide range of opportunities and challenges she met along the way.

    Soule is always looking for enthusiastic and skilled employees to join her team and would love to work with fellow Cal Poly alumni. Those interested in a position on the Central Coast are encouraged to email her at

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    Launch, Inc. Fiona Cullen Career

    By Fiona Cullen ('16')

    I started my time at Launch during my incredible internship giving me experience in all aspects of the events industry and allowing me to contribute to some amazing industry programs.  Now I am a member of the Launch team which produce corporate events.

    Corporate events have many focuses including user conferences, sales kickoffs and incentive trips around the world. Working on a team that does such a wide variety of events has provided me a wide range of experiences while traveling with the Launch team.

    When I first heard about Launch, I was immediately drawn to the highly collaborative environment. As a team, we depend on each other for support in each of our programs, and every team member brings a different strength to the table. I really enjoyed working in the collaborative and project-oriented atmosphere that the RPTA major cultivated, and I knew I wanted to continue to work in a similar environment after graduation. I have found Launch to be just the place for me.

    The Experience Industry Management Department prepared me so well for this job.  So many of the skills I learned in class and then honed in Learn by Doing experiences I use daily. One of the most valuable things I learned as an RPTA student is the importance of being ready and willing to jump in on any task or project. Every opportunity to help is a chance to learn and contribute, and no task is too small to make a difference. Logo courtesy of LAUNCH, Inc.

    The EIM internship program was integral in setting me on this career path, and without it I would not be where I am today working at Launch.

    I absolutely love working at Launch, and continue to grow as an experience industry professional every day.

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    Launch, Inc. Internship

    By Sage Speak, (’18)

    One of the most enjoyable aspects of my internship at Launch Inc., a boutique corporate event planning company in San Francisco, was getting to work with experienced professionals while learning more about corporate event management.

    I first heard about Launch last year when representatives from the company visited Cal Poly and spoke at a Rho Phi Lambda meeting. At that meeting, I had the opportunity to learn more about Launch and was able to network with some of its employees. During my summer 2017 internship, I found Launch employees eager to teach the interns about the event industry.

    We learned about various registration platforms, researched and sourced various event components, and learned how to read and understand meeting agendas and “specs.”

    The most beneficial takeaway was the importance of communication. More specifically, the need to be responsive and pay attention to the details, no matter how big or small!

    This real-world internship experience related most to classes such as RPTA 317: Hospitality, Convention and Meeting Management, RPTA 320: Strategic Event Planning, RPTA 321: Advanced Event Management, and RPTA 472: Leadership Practice.

    This internship definitely helped reassure me that my goal to pursue a career in the corporate event planning industry is the right path for me. Photo Courtesy of EIM Student Sage Speak.

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    Students, Faculty Member Volunteer at Children of Hope Orphanage in Kenya

    Adapted from an article by AnnMarie Cornejo and published fall 2017 in Cultivate, the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences magazine.

    Experience Industry Management (EIM) student Kevin Rubow and Professor Keri Schwab were part of a Cal Poly group that traveled to Kikuyu, Kenya, in July 2017 to work for three weeks at the Children of Hope orphanage.

    The orphanage, just outside of Nairobi, includes two children’s homes on 50 acres of rolling farmland. It is largely funded by donors from the U.S. and is operated by a nonprofit agency based in Colorado. When purchased, the property consisted of six small cottages, a large kitchen, a dining cottage, and space for soccer and other recreational activities, group campouts, or weddings.

    The team of Cal Poly students had one objective: to increase the orphanage’s revenue by utilizing and improving its existing resources. Ideally the orphanage would generate more income from farm production by selling crops and livestock such as cattle and by renting out its facilities for weddings or church and corporate retreats.

    The students were divided into two groups to analyze tourism and event management and agricultural production. Rubow and Schwab were part of the tourism and event management group. Schwab guided students in the sustainable tourism group, which examined the domestic market, visited nearby hotels and venues, and delved into the orphanage’s existing marketing and business plan.

    “In the end, the students created a more than 100-page business and marketing plan, complete with redone spreadsheet templates for accurate reporting. They also suggested a new name, a logo and brochure for the cottages, and created dozens of social media posts,” Schwab said. The team of students also suggested short-term and long-term plans for facility and service upgrades.

    Rubow was initially nervous about spending three weeks in Kenya. Looking back, he said it was one of the best decisions he ever made. He applied his accounting knowledge -- acquired at Cal Poly -- to help with the business plan. “I focused mostly on … financial improvements. I looked at previous years’ income and expense statements and saw where they could improve their accounting procedures and their profitability,” Rubow explained.  

    When not working long hours at the orphanage, students traveled to nearby destinations such as Hell’s Gate National Park, the Giraffe Centre, an elephant orphanage, the local farmers market and to a major sports event in Nairobi. “We were almost always greeted with smiles, and I felt an open and accepting attitude toward mazungos (white people),” Schwab said. “The Kenyans seemed happy to welcome us to their country, often inquiring if this was our first time and what we thought of their country.”

    Rubow said he learned from Kenyans the importance of relationships, especially in an under-resourced area. “Kenyans place a great emphasis on friendships and maintaining connections with other people, which I highly respect. Kenyans will often help their friends when they are in need, which helps to build a strong community.”

    Rubow and Schwab were grateful for the opportunity to share their EIM knowledge with Children of Hope and to be part of that community. Photos courtesy of EIM Student Kevin Rubow. 


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    Rho Phi Lambda's Career Fair

    Perry Nalle (’20) and Geri Pirkle (’20)

    On Friday, January 19th, Rho Phi Lambda, EIM’s professional Honors Society, hosted the Experience Industry Management Career Fair.

    Jo Kirkby (’18) EIM student and president of Rho Phi Lambda, the Society’s motivation to organize the event: “The regular [Cal Poly] career fair is not what we are looking for as EIM students. It’s too big. This one is tailored to our needs.”

    Joanne Lodato (’19) added, "As an EIM Student I took full advantage of this EIM focused Career Fair experience! As Treasurer of Rho Phi Lambda, it felt great to contribute towards such a worthy event for students seeking full-time career positions, internships, or just looking for their first job experience. As a fraternity, Rho Phi Lambda was happy with the success of the Career Fair, but, we know it will grow bigger and better every year."

    Rho Phi Lambda officers  planned and hosted this this successful event by connecting with companies and organizations from across California This year, 22 companies participated, including:

     • San Luis Obispo Baseball Alliance Foundation (the SLO Blues)
     UCSB Family Vacation Center
     • The Cliffs Hotel Resort
     • City of San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation
     • Chumash Casino Resort
     • Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and Parade
     • EVO Events Group
     • Thousand Trails Campground and RV Resort
     • Field to Table Catering and Events
     • Allegretto Vineyard Resort
     • Santa Margarita Adventures
     • San Francisco Giants Community Foundation

    As the EIM major requires extensive industry experience prior to and including the senior internship, career fairs are an essential opportunity for students to network with professionals and research career possibilities. Finding an internship as part of a degree requirement can produce some anxiety in students. Kirkby “doesn’t want students to feel intimidated by the internship and hopes this career fair will open the door to a position they love.” Rubow said the fair was, “a great opportunity to meet employers and see what they have to offer.” He added, “meeting industry professionals and developing a personalized relationship with them because you never know who you're going to work with later on down the road."

    Looking to the future, the ultimate goal of Rho Phi Lambda is to make it accessible to students in all majors. Kirkby hopes that it not only provide job and internship opportunities to EIM students, but also link other majors together. Rubow emphasized this point, reflecting that, “Everyone who went to the career fair had the opportunity to learn more about a job in their field that they could be doing in the near future.” Even though planning the fair kept her busy, Kirkby said, “It was so worth it. Everyone is having a good time.” As an industry, Kirkby said “EIM has so much to offer. This is just a glimpse.” Photo courtesy of EIM Student Olivia Larsen.

    Meet the Staff for "The Report" Winter 2018 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.​

    Meet the student staff .... read more

    How to give to the Experience Industry Management Dept.?

    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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