Checking back in from the City of College Place! I’m excited to report that I am still very much engaged with Recreation & Events. Now that I’m well into my fellowship I’m finding that I can talk at length about community engagement, city partnerships and even what trees work best in particular public spaces (yes, there’s a guidebook on this). While all of these things are not the most interesting to everyone, I’ve found that in talking with others about recreation and events, many of them have to re-conceptualize the entire concept. Recreation and events such as a seasonal farmer’s market often seems so commonplace that we may forget or ignore entirely the planning, funding, and resources that it requires. Being in this fellowship position, I can now recognize the positive impacts of having a Parks & Recreation program on communities.
College Place is a city of just over 9,000 people, with no current definitive recreation and events program or designated space in the city budget. There is, however, a desire to create a foundation for such a program, especially in anticipation of population growth and to serve the current citizens of College Place, so they do not feel as if they need to commute to Walla Walla for such events. My fellowship has been to research comparable cities’ recreation and events programs, as well as the currently existing events on College Place, and develop a report with recommendations and best practices to form an official program for the City. Much of my developments have involved presenting monthly to the recreation and events board, hearing their feedback regarding what I have done over the month, and starting the next month’s research guided by the board’s suggestions. I am currently compiling a final written report, which I will present to the Parks & Recreation board at the end of April.
Halfway through my second semester at Whitman, it’s hard to believe my fellowship is coming to a close! It has inspired a good amount of reflection on my part, as well as an increased sense of urgency to finish strong on my last set of deliverables. Part of this period of reflection was prompted by the opportunity to share about the Whitman Fellow Program and my experiences working at the City of College Place to a group of visiting high school counselors from around the country. I was able to share how important recreation and events are to smaller communities such as College Place, and the tangible effects on the community.
Experiences like Kari’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Victoria Wolff