Ellen Morris and Jason Young work with students in parks, recreation and sport every day to help them find internships and jobs. So when they are off the clock, what do they like to do?
Why, help students in parks, recreation and sport find internships and jobs, of course!
Morris (BS PRT ’11) and Young (BS PRT ’09), both career specialists and internship coordinators in the School of Natural Resources, are also the coordinators of the Missouri Park and Recreation Association Student and New Professional Section. They have planned the association’s annual Student Workshop, have been co-committee chairs for Student Activities at the MPRA State Conference and serve on the Leisure Educators Section board of the association.
In addition, they have planned and executed the Mizzou Alumni Social and Auction at the MPRA state conference, raising approximately $2,000 annually in scholarship money. They host a Career Center at the conference, with 50-60 job postings each year. Morris and Young also advise the Sport, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Association here on campus – and get students involved at the state level when they can.
Finally, this spring, Morris was recognized for all of this work with the MPRA Associate Fellow Award at the state conference – the second highest honor given out. She was nominated for the award by Young.
Young joined the School of Natural Resources in 2013, Morris in 2014. They both attended the 2014 MPRA Student Workshop with Jennifer Upah, assistant teaching professor and director of internships for the parks, recreation and sport program.
“After that, we kind of took it over,” Young said of the workshop.
Their work with MPRA involves planning student events for the whole state – this includes employer panels, education sessions, networking opportunities and more. Although Morris and Young work with students at Northwest Missouri State University, Missouri State University, Southeast Missouri State University, Lindenwood University and the University of Central Missouri, in addition to students at Mizzou, the students here benefit doubly from having them just down the hall.
In 2015, Morris and Young applied for and received funding through the MU Staff Advisory Council to attend the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA) conference in January 2016.
“We went for our students, to see how they do it,” Young said of the opportunity. They also took a group of students to the National Recreation and Park Association meeting when it was held in St. Louis in 2016.
“They walked in and their eyes lit up,” Young said of the students.
“They realized the amount of jobs available and they can go do these jobs anywhere,” Morris said.
Young said they do it all for the students. “It’s the networking. We meet people who help our students find internships, we meet people who help with mock interviews and speak to our students about careers,” he said. “It helps us make those connections.”
And their work is paying off. Parks, recreation and sport is one of the largest degree programs in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, but even with the high number of graduates, 85 percent of students are placed in jobs or are continuing their education after graduation.