Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration




Banner Friday, April 12, 2019

University Union 


Throughout this academic year, we have made it our goal to celebrate the partnerships that have made RPTA successful. At this year's PDC, we will be celebrating the tremendous impact that our alumni and friends have in mentoring and providing professional guidance for current students.

The theme for this year's RPTA Professional Development Conference (PDC) is:
Purposeful Partnerships: Recipes for Success.

The conference will take place on Friday, April 12, 2019 from 8:00 am until 12:00 pm. Immediately following, RPTA will host its annual departmental awards celebration.

We have four goals for our conference:
• to help our students hone their professional competencies;
• to recruit students into our department;
• to provide opportunities for alumni, friends, and students to engage; and,
• to celebrate the successes of our alumni, friends, and current students.

We're very grateful to the wonderful alumni and friends who were chosen to present this year:

Tracey Crawford, NWSRA 
Mat Emken, DeKalb Park District
Ashley Bozman, Prairie Land Conservancy
Rachel Lenz, Macomb Park District
Karl Schmidt, Wadi Adventure
Megan Owens, RPTA 
Brian Tibbs & Matt Suellentrop, Washington Park District
Jennifer Meyers & Jackie Gonzalez, Park Ridge Park District & Naperville Park District 
Sheryl Boston, Hospitality Management 
Emily Fritz, New Vision Wilderness 
Frank Lupton, Former Chair, RPTA 
Adrianna Tuszynski, Mosaic

 Conference Schedule


Program Descriptions

Breakout Session I

Creative Collaborations - Mat Emken - Cardinal Oak Room 

In these times of tight budgets and tax caps, we are forced to do more with less. Thinking “outside of the box” has become imperative for park professionals. Finding ways to collaborate with other agencies and local businesses can make the difference between “same old, same old”, and providing some new and exciting projects and programs without breaking the bank. This session will focus on some of the creative collaborations the DeKalb Park District has pursed in order to provide our residents with exceptional service while still keeping a tight grip on the bottom line.

Making the Dream Work: Building Your Team - Ashley Bozman - Sandburg Lounge 

Organizational capacity varies depending on the size of your organization. If your staff and bank account is small, and the job is big, then it’s time to get creative! Ashley will talk about different pools to consider when looking to build your personnel and financial capacity.

The not so unknown: managing your social media presence - Rachel Lenz - Lamoine Room 

Far too often, young professionals forget that their brand is more than a resume or an interview; it's also everything they've posted online. In this session, Rachel will highlight best strategies for using your social media to brand yourself in the best possible ways. 

Breakout Session II

Building Your Network & Career Opportunities Abroad - Karl Schmidt - Cardinal Oak Room 

Session will cover methods to build your professional network and utilizing those connections to set yourself up for future career opportunities.

Preparing & building your career skills through RPTA faculty partnerships - Megan Owens - Sandburg Lounge 

Did you know that RPTA faculty form special partnerships with businesses and field specific associations? Some partnerships are formed to conduct research while others support both WIU and business initiatives. This session will discuss how partnerships are formed and how you can gain valuable career experience from working with RPTA faculty on their partnerships. Today’s employers seek graduates with a variety of experiences that demonstrate one’s critical thinking skills and ability to work in versatile roles. Let’s get you positioned to showcase these skills to your future employer!

Surviving your first six months as a professional - Brian Tibbs & Matt Suellentrop - Lamoine Room 

In this session, attendees will learn best practices that will help them survive their first six months in professional settings. From learning when to put the phone down to understanding how to navigate dress codes and make meaningful connections with colleagues, Brian and Matt will teach practical lessons that will benefit all young professionals. 

Breakout Session III

Secrets to Successful Collaboration - Tracey Crawford - Cardinal Oak Room

Tracey will share the secrets she's learned about creating successful collaborations over her 30 years of experience.

Safety: What you need to know - Jennifer Meyers & Jackie Gonzalez - Sandburg Lounge 

Safety is an integral part of the field of recreation. This presentation will provide the cornerstones of what you need to know about safety and your responsibilities in managing safety for your patrons and staff.

Professional Polish - Sheryl Boston - Lamoine Room

Attendees will learn best practices for making themselves stand out in positive ways. Sheryl will share practical examples of ways students can polish their appearance, communication, and interpersonal skills. 

Breakout Session IV

What to do when stoke is not enough: Professionalism for the young outdoor professional - Emily Fritz - Cardinal Oak Room 

Young professionals are usually stoked on their prospective careers. Unfortunately, level of stoke is not the only factor in landing a job. This session will discuss challenges young professionals may face as well as tips and tricks for making themselves more employable outdoor professionals. In this session, we will discuss professionalism through all aspects of employment from how to find employment to how to maintain employment. 

Expedition Beginnings: ECOEE and RPTA Outdoor Curriculum - "Doc" Frank Lupton - Sandburg Lounge

Dr. Lupton served as a professor and chair of the RPTA Department. In this session, students will learn about the history of the ECOEE program and RPTA's rich traditions of outdoor education.

Birds do it, bees do it. Even educated fleas do it. Let’s do it, let’s volunteer! - Adrianna Tuszynski - Lamoine Room 

A common expectation for any entry level job is experience in the field. As a full time student or non-traditional student, it can be challenging to do anything outside what is required in the classroom. Now, let’s flip that script. As an agency, there is a lot that businesses can gain from volunteers. This session addresses the power and importance of volunteering for making community and professional connections. 

Awards Ceremony

Developing Scholar
Madeline Hall

Arthur F. Clayton Award
Julia Fetty

Outstanding Senior
Brady Long

Outstanding Graduate Student
Katie Risch Little

Graduate of the Last Decade Award (Undergraduate)
Ashley Bozman, Program Coordinator, Prairie Land Conservancy

Graduate of the Last Decade Award (Graduate)
Tanner Melvin, Cofounder of Side Street Studio Arts, Elgin

Distinguished Service Award
Blake and Alison Kosanovich, Owners, McDonald's of Macomb and Canton

Distinguished Alumni Award
Joe Roselieb, Director, Residential & Auxiliary Facilities, Western Illinois University


Through the generosity of donors, there is no charge for students to attend the conference.

For more information, please contact Dr. Jeremy Robinett at