SUU Partners with Tempe Festival of the Arts

Published: June 29, 2022 | Author: Abbie Cochrane | Read Time: 3 minutes

SUU students at Tempe Festival of ArtsThanks to an ongoing partnership between Downtown Tempe Authority and Southern Utah University’s Outdoor Recreation in Parks and Tourism (ORPT) program, students in the program are able to participate in the Tempe Festival of the Arts (TFA) each year.

“This has been a great partnership for both ORPT and Tempe Festival of the Arts,” said Dr. Kelly Goonan, associate professor of ORPT at SUU. “What is especially notable is they reached out to SUU specifically because of our reputation and emphasis on experiential education, even though there are other colleges and universities much closer.”

Since 2018, SUU’s ORPT program has participated in the event immersion program, giving students valuable hands-on experience with the long-running festival. Students help with setup and takedown and depending on the season, either shadow staff to learn about a program area or supervise an area themselves.

Each fall, students meet with staff from organizations like the City of Tempe and Tempe Tourism, and each spring, with staff with specific responsibilities with the festival. These Spotlight Sessions give students the opportunity to learn more about each person and their work with the festival.

“Through the program, students learn about the logistics and planning needed to host a large-scale event and the specific elements needed for the smaller program areas within the event,” said Dr. Goonan. “They also learn how community events like TFA can support the missions of multiple organizations. Students also develop professional skills like communication, problem-solving, and organization and grow their professional network.”

SUU students enrolled in ORPT 4740/4745 Organization and Administration are invited to participate each spring and fall. In these courses, students learn the organizational aspects of outdoor recreation programs, along with planning, programming, budgeting, human resources, risk management, and other such skills in the classroom and corresponding lab.

Their time at the festival includes a SWOT Analysis. Students identify a specific project that addresses a weakness, opportunity, or threat identified in the SWOT and provide feedback for the festival. Last year students researched options for providing potable water at the festival to replace the use of single-use plastic water bottles and reduce waste from the event.

"Our program mentor was so appreciative of us and everything we did and was very clear and organized on what it was we were expected to do,” said Michelle Raineri, ORPT student. “She was also very open to ideas for future reference, I think she really appreciated our input and hard work, and I appreciated the opportunities she gave all of us in our group. I had nothing but a positive experience working with TFA, all the employees treated us with respect and I really felt like a part of the community the second time we visited there."

The Tempe Festival of the Arts is a semiannual festival taking place in early December and late March each year. For over 50 years, the festival has hosted local music, the works of over 350 artists from across the nation, food, and more. Volunteer options are available each season for anyone interested in having a front-row seat to the community and creative enrichment taking place during the event.

The Outdoor Recreation in Parks and Tourism program at SUU is an interdisciplinary degree offered by the Department of Kinesiology and Outdoor Recreation. The interdisciplinary nature of the program includes course work from agriculture science, biology, communication, geology, and hotel and hospitality management.

Tags: Kinesiology and Outdoor Recreation

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