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Northwest students took advantage of an opportunity to explore recreation careers in Colorado this summer through a course led by Dr. Sue Myllykangas. (Submitted photo)

Northwest students took advantage of an opportunity to explore recreation careers in Colorado this summer through a course led by Dr. Sue Myllykangas. (Submitted photo)

Aug. 2, 2018

Students experience real world, networking in Colorado

By Grace Niemeyer, communication assistant

Nine Northwest Missouri State University recreation students traveled to Colorado this summer as part of the University’s Exploring Recreation Resources course, now in its 12th year.

The 12-day, high-impact, three-credit hour course is designed to offer students the opportunity to see and experience a variety of professional options in the field of parks and recreation.

“I could use the examples of the facilities we toured as a basis for a career path,” Laura Davison, a junior corporate recreation and wellness major from Maloy, Iowa, said. “This is very valuable because it has made me think in detail about many opportunities that are available.”

Associate Professor of Recreation Dr. Sue Myllykangas instructs the course every summer to help students network with professionals and step into career environments they are exploring.

“Students studying parks and recreation as their major generally don’t know the full extent of what they can do with their degree when they graduate,” Myllykangas said. “It is difficult for a student to know if the setting, population, and emphasis area within parks and recreation is truly what they want to be doing as a career when they graduate.

“This class was created to provide opportunities for students to see and experience the coursework we were teaching them in real life, network with professionals for internships and jobs, clarify their emphasis of study area, and learn soft skills like communication and conflict resolution.”

Students visited 35 venues, including Red Rocks Amphitheater, Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center, the YMCA Camp of the Rockies, Epic Sky Trek and King Adult Day Enrichment Program, a day program for people with multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injuries.

Previous tours included officiating track and field, weight lifting, basketball and swimming competitions at the Rocky Mountain Senior Games for adults over the age of 50. Students also have had the opportunity to assist with Veterans Day celebrations and a wheelchair sports camp for kids.

“I am a visual learner and physically seeing the stuff I'm learning in my classes helps me understand them better,” Davison said. “This trip will help me with my future career in my knowledge of what I can do with my major and where I can go with it.”

Aryon Fergeson, a junior therapeutic recreation (TR) major from St. Joseph, Missouri, enjoyed learning about career paths she could take. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work.

“There were so many facilities that we saw that I had not known about,” Fergeson said. “Personally, I want to go into counseling and I thought I would need a degree in psychology to do that, but really I can do it with a TR major. I found a couple of places that were very interesting and stuck out to me, like the Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center. I want to do smaller animals, like cats and dogs, but essentially I want to utilize animals to service those who need therapy.”

Additionally, Myllykangas and her students annually join the Northwest Alumni Association’s Colorado Chapter for a barbecue and networking at the home of Northwest alumni Bob and Seal Burrell.

For more information about Exploring Recreation Resources, contact Dr. Sue Myllykangas at or 660.562.1377.


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215