Professional Practice Assistant Professor
In my role in the KHS department, I am involved in teaching, student recruitment, and curriculum design. I am an active member of the National Recreation and Parks Administration (NRPA), The Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals (SORP) and the American Canoe Association (ACA). I am certified as a level 3 sea kayak instructor, level 2 stand-up paddle board instructor and wilderness first responder.
I am an assistant professor of practice focusing on outdoor adventure leadership and recreation administration in the department of Kinesiology and Health Science. I am a native of Utah with over 25 years of knowledge and field experience within the community, sport, hospitality and adventure recreation industry. I have also researched and presented nationally on the connections between recreation and the health-related quality of life of long-term cancer survivors, how recreation professionals plan and develop extraordinary experiences, and on mega events like the National Football Leagues annual Super Bowl. My field base experience includes work with various recreation agencies around the country from guiding in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to community parks and recreation in the Midwest, Japanese tour guide, residential and community based summer camp directorships, to conducting needs assessments and master planning in the recreation industry.
Prior to coming to Utah State University, I held faculty positions at two eastern universities: East Carolina University (Greenville, NC) as an instructional assistant professor of recreation with a focus on outdoor adventure and program planning; and Baldwin Wallace University (Cleveland, OH) as an assistant professor of Sport and Hospitality Management where I was the coordinator of the hospitality major and recreation minor.
The field of Hospitality, Event Management, and Tourism (HEMT) require future leaders who not only have specific knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA), but who also have a wealth of experiences and relevant certifications from which to draw. Based on these requirements my teaching philosophy and methods embrace a dynamic experiential approach. This not only exposes students to theory, best practices, and basic KSAs of the field, but to real world experience so that they can become self-determined practitioners and leaders of HEMT businesses. I therefore strive to be diverse in my instructional approaches in an attempt to form real lasting connections between theory and practice for my students.
As an active practitioner, educator, and researcher of HEMT, I welcome learners from diverse backgrounds, involvement, and learning styles. It is through the mindful creation of dynamic experiential learning environments that I have witnessed the greatest acceleration in student development. I have therefore established four firm beliefs about the HEMT field that influence and guide my teaching philosophy. They are:
a) Experiential learning is a critical component in providing students with opportunities to develop solid KSAs and gain crucial industry experience;
b) Students connect to course content best through multiple learning formats;
c) I do not ask students to perform tasks that I have not done before or would be unwilling to do myself; and,
d) As an example of the HEMT field, I must demonstrate that I am continually developing my field related KSAs and gathering personal experiences.
By continually developing experiential based learning environments, my students develop the KSAs and field experiences necessary for current and future HEMT leadership roles. This process enables them to become strong active practitioners of the field, competent in their knowledge skills and abilities, and deeply connected with HEMT professionals. In short, my teaching philosophy is:
“To develop dynamic experientially based learning environments so that students can become self-determined recreation, outdoor adventure leadership, and tourism professionals.”
My research examines how leisure experiences (LE) influence two main areas of interest. The first area focuses on the intersection between participation in recreation, park, tourism experiences and LE. The second focuses on the relationship between LE and the health and quality of life of participants throughout the life course. My research experience and future goals stem from my personal interests in outdoor adventure recreation and travel. From a young age, I have been involved in the guiding, instruction, and facilitation of outdoor adventure and travel. Throughout my undergraduate, graduate, and professional career, the outdoor adventure experience has been core to my being. I therefore want my research to not only be applicable and accessible to the academy and colleagues, but to the community of current and future leaders/policy makers.
My research plan for the next five years will be to combine my two research interests. Specifically I want to focus on the connections between leisure experience participation in outdoor adventure recreation travel and the health-quality of life of older adults. We are witnessing what an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (2018) called, “The Silver Tsunami.” Using statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, this article explains that by 2050 there will be 83.7 million people in the United States 65 and older. This is almost double the current projections for 2020. According to the Census, by 2020 almost half of Ohio’s 88 counties will be 60 and older. The same is equally true of Coastal Carolina counties. Today those who are 65 and older are changing how retirement is experienced and thereby dynamically changing the recreation, parks and tourism field. With the increase in those 65 and older, recreation, park, and tourism agencies, communities, and practitioners will need research to help provide direction for infrastructure development, programing, resource planning, and policymaking.
In light of the interdisciplinary nature of the Department of Kinesiology and Health Science at Utah State University, its strong network of collaboration with area partners, and resources throughout the great state of Utah, this area of research will generate fruitful collaborations, funding, and student research opportunities (undergraduate and masters level).