ASU According To You: A Parks and Recreation student

When hearing the words "parks and recreation" the Emmy-nominated television show starring Amy PoehlerChris Pratt and Rashida Jones may come to the minds of many people. However, if you ask senior Henry White, the president of the Parks and Recreation Student Association (PRSA), there's more to this unique field than meets the eye.

The parks and recreation major at ASU is just one of the many areas of study offered by the College of Public Service and Community Solutions. Other majors include tourism development & management, nonprofit leadership & management and White's own major, community sports management. 

ASU's parks and recreation management major is defined as "a management of parks, protected areas and community based recreation services and special event management," according to its website.

Careers that may be pursued in this field range from state or federal park rangers and tourism to community development and recreational work. Many students can also go into working for nonprofit organizations like The Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the YMCA. At these organizations students can work as senior center coordinators, outdoor recreation planners or camp supervisors.

"The beautiful thing about parks and recreation is you can take it in so many different directions," White said. "It's really all about passion."

One of the best parts about the parks and recreation program is the exposure students get. In addition to hands-on courses taught by seasoned faculty like Eric Legg's program planning (CSM 303), students complete a senior internship. They also have to accumulate 250 career field exploration hours while completing their degree. White said that this allows students to get more experience with professionals, on-the-job training and leadership skills.

"When we leave ASU we've got plenty of experience in leadership and management," he said. 

He said this also helps students to narrow down their options and interests as well as gage what the state of Arizona has to offer. 

White said that, although he can only speak for ASU, he is doubtful that other universities provide students with the same opportunities.

"To get the experience and exposure that you do is great," he said. "I can't say any other college has that much exposure."

White said the PRSA works to enhance professional and social experiences of parks and recreation majors. The organization often takes students on several outings throughout the year like visiting Camp Tontozona, hiking, participating in service projects, taking day trips to Slide Rock State Park and more.

Members of the organization have even attended the National Recreation and Parks Association Annual Conference where students were able to network with professionals in their field. It also works in collaboration with The Arizona Parks and Recreation Association, a nonprofit organization that was founded to "enhance quality of life through parks, recreation and environmental conservation."

"We're all about the quality of life for every individual," White said in regards to PRSA.

White also said that many people underestimate the field, thinking that their options are limited. He said that many people, students and non-students alike, look at parks and recreation as only a small inkling of community programs.

"People get pigeonholed into thinking they can only do a few things, but they can do so much more," he said.

White said people forget about the other less known majors at ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus in favor of the bigger kids on the playground like the Cronkite School and the College of Health Solutions

"There are a lot of different majors based Downtown but people aren't aware of (them)," White said.

Initially a nonprofit leadership management major, White eventually switched over to community sports management. Upon graduation, he said he plans to develop and serve the parks and recreation community in Arizona, particularly focusing on the values and benefits of action sports.

In fact when first speaking to White, he was helping to put the last finishing touches on the Estrella Foothills Bike Park in Goodyear, Arizona, opening April 9. 

A few still shots from today's service at Slide Rock. What a great group of students to work with. The experience was amazing, the scenery was incredible and the tourists made it interesting. Slide Rock State Park produces the highest amount of tourism volume with over 330,000 visitors a year. The apple orchards were all in bloom and the tourist season hasn't hit so it wasn't horribly busy. We've got a video to follow along with our day but its in production, so we'll get back to you on it.It was a great exercise getting the students some professional engagement, thanks to Kim, Sarah, Steve and the other gentleman's name escapes me. We got a lot of questions answered, experiences shared, and even might of scored a summer internship for one of our newest members John Eaves, who joined...two days ago!Arizona Parks and Recreation Association Arizona State Parks Slide Rock State Park, Sedona AZ ASU College of Public Service & Community Solutions

Posted by Parks & Recreation Student Association on Sunday, March 20, 2016

He said also he hopes to continue expanding his nonprofit organization, Urban Recreation. Founded in 2014, Urban Recreation's mission statement is "to promote and enhance the action sports experience through education, events and community development." 

White said that he believes there is a stigma associated with actions sports like BMX and motocross because of the potential dangers. However, he maintains that there are ways to promote these activities in a safe and productive environment. 

White said his two children both play a huge role in his desire to better the world through fitness, health and leisure. He said that parks and recreation allows him to ensure a superior future for them and other generations to come.

The future looks bright as parks and recreation students at ASU work to uncover the beauty of nature.

Correction: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated the name of the school that offers the Parks and Recreation major. This version has been updated with the correct information.

Related links:

ASU According To You: An Aviation Student

ASU According To You: A music therapy student


Reach the reporter at nlilley@asu.edu or follow her @noelledl on Twitter.

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.