Through the Department of Recreation Administration’s Sustainable Park and Recreation Community Initiative (SPARCI), students and alumni are able to link theory to practice while also serving the greater Fresno community. During the month of July, the department was focused on bringing attention and advocacy toward the field of parks and recreation. Since 1985, the National Park and Recreation Association has celebrated Park and Recreation Month annually during the month of July to highlight local park and recreation professionals, from city, county, schools and more – and the role they each play in creating more vibrant and resilient communities across the country. This year’s theme is ‘we rise up for parks and recreation’.
“Park and recreation professionals rise up in the service of equity, climate-readiness, accessibility, and overall health and well-being for their communities,” said Dr. Brandon Taylor, assistant professor in the Department of Recreation Administration and coordinator of the community and youth program at Fresno State. “July is the perfect time of year to recognize the work they do for communities.”
Professionals in the field work in a variety of settings from parks and recreation to after school programs, in county, state and federal sectors.
“In the Valley alone, many of our alumni and students work with nonprofits, such as the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, Every Neighborhood Partnership, San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservancy, Sierra Foothill Conservancy, and the Fresno County Historical Society to name a few. Others work in the private sector including wineries and tourism,” Taylor added.
One student gaining experience in the field is Candice Hill Troutman, a special events and tourism option who currently works at the Fresno County Historical Society as a tour director implementing and directing public and private tours at the historic Kearney Mansion Museum.
Troutman created and is currently spearheading the Fresno County Historical Society’s “Fields of Fresno: Ag Tours”, a specialty guided tour that gives visitors a glimpse into the wonderful bounty Fresno offers. For $85, visitors will experience a carefully crafted experience, including a tour of Kearney Mansion, followed by a visit to agricultural sites within the county, ending with lunch and a wine tasting at a local farm. All tours are conducted on a luxury motor coach, where Troutman and her team of tour guides provide facts and ask trivia questions, making it a fun learning experience for all.
Upcoming tour dates include July 29 with a fruit trail tour and wine tasting at Kings River Winery and August 27, a tour of tomato production at Woolf Farms in Five Points, California. The highly popular tours will last through the fall. Learn more and purchase tickets at: https://www.valleyhistory.org/ag-tour
Troutman says her experience in the Recreation Administration program has been beneficial to honing her knowledge in the special events and tourism field.
“My education so far in the Recreation Administration program has developed my ability to create and communicate the stages and scenes needed to produce our tours, especially our ag tours,” Troutman said. “Understanding how visitors and locals experience our ag tours from the moment they see our flyer on social media to the time we say goodbye is due to the program’s event planning and recreation programming classes.”
In addition, Troutman also runs her own tour business, Tour Guide Cafe, where she creates and coordinates customized walking tours of Fresno’s most notable sites and attractions, including the old Fresno water tower, downtown’s Fulton district, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo and even kayak tours along the San Joaquin River Parkway, in addition to a Social Justice Tour.
“I love tourism,” Troutman said. “It changed my perspective about life and I want to pass that down to my children to help them know that life is more than their circle. I feel that through tourism true education begins. Through tourism a mission or a vision of a company, a city, a community and even the vision of a family legacy can be experienced.”
An alumni making a notable contribution in the California region is Corey Torres, general manager of the Tehachapi Valley Recreation and Park District. In this role, he oversees recreation services for the mountain community of just under 13,000 residents, and has worked diligently to add more parks and green space to the area.
“I firmly believe that the parks and services we provide play such an impactful role in our community’s overall quality of life,” Torres said. “Life lessons are taught and learned from the programs we provide. I couldn’t be more proud and honored to lead this district.”
About the Department of Recreation Administration
The nationally accredited bachelor’s degree program at Fresno State offers five option areas, including community recreation, youth development, and senior services; outdoor recreation and and natural resource management; recreation therapy; special events and tourism; and sports and entertainment facility management.
“Our classes encourage students to learn and participate in hands-on activities to help all people live healthy, enjoyable, active, and meaningful lifestyles,” said Dr. Sam Lankford, chair of the department. “Students in our program provide thousands of hours of public service and paid service in the Valley through service learning and internships.”
The profession focuses on the fundamental principles of leisure and the practices involved in providing public and private recreational activities and services occurring in the outdoor environment, community parks and recreation, recreational therapy programs for people with disabilities, special events, sports and entertainment facilities, travel and tourism, and senior and youth-serving organizations.
To learn more about Fresno State’s Department of Recreation Administration, visit https://chhs.fresnostate.edu/recreation.
Learn more about Troutman and her work in this “Conversations for Change” digital feature: https://www.yourcentralvalley.com/digital-exclusive/conversations-for-change-candice-hill-troutman/