My name is Kari Hampson, and I’m a senior psychology major. However, on Tuesdays and Thursdays I drive ten minutes into the neighboring town of College Place, enter City Hall, and get settled to work in the Mayor’s office. I’m actually working as a research fellow for their Recreation and Events department, however I like to think of myself as the interim Mayor while I’m working in my “office.” I’ve learned working in small city government has some quirky realities such as these, and I’ve been enjoying all of the learning opportunities that have come along the way.
My role as the Recreation & Events fellow contains a few parts. I work under the City Administrator, Mike Rizzitiello, to develop a report on recreation & events as well as best practices used by the City of College place and similarly-sized cities in the region such as Pullman, Wenatchee, and Colfax. The City of College Place is currently in an exciting period of growth and development within their recreation and events programs, so it is exciting to be a fellow at this point in time. In the past year, several new community events have been added such as a Fall Festival, a Winterfest event, a Spring Block Party, and new youth summer camp offerings.
Much of my role has involved research in the field, with many phone and in-person interviews. Since I am reporting on best practices in the area, I have met with a large majority of the organizations in the area pertaining to recreation and events, such as the YWCA, YMCA, United Way Walla Walla, and the Walla Walla Recreation & Events, among others. I also attend the monthly Recreation and Events Board meetings, where the Board meets to discuss measures such as funding, new initiatives, and goals.
My main goal through this fellowship is to develop a comprehensive report on recreation and events in College Place, and include comparisons to other similar-sized cities. Throughout my research, I am building my own knowledge regarding recreation and the role of government in these actions, as well as incorporating my own suggestions for future developments and partnerships. Initially this seemed like a daunting task, however I have been fortunate that those I work with have been so helpful with finding initial contacts and making sure I settled in well.
Currently, I am helping the City gear up for their second-annual Winterfest in addition to my usual duties. The celebration consists of a lighted parade, Christmas Carols, and fireworks. The idea for these events such as Winterfest and Fall Festival resides in the goal of cultivating a sense of community in College Place, so residents don’t feel obliged to travel to Walla Walla for events. My goal working in Recreation & Events is to actively research and report on how to continue community building for the City of College Place in these aspects for years to come.