News and Events

More than a ‘Fun Boss,' alumnus builds morale on aircraft carrier

Recreation, park and tourism management grad gives sailors a boost on USS

When he’s not running programs he’s planning them. Whether it’s a basketball tournament, concert or Christmas party, Josh Watson is always hard at work to ensure a good time.

Josh Watson

Despite the job description, it’s more than just fun and games. Watson and his staff of 15 strive to raise the spirit of sailors on deployment.

A 2009 graduate of recreation, park and tourism management (RPTM) in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development (HHD), Watson is the director of recreation on the USS George H. W. Bush naval aircraft carrier. Responsible for planning and implementing morale building activities for more than 5,000 servicemen and women, Watson is casually known as the “Fun Boss.”

“Life of being the ‘Fun Boss’ is pretty busy and can be frustrating (and) rewarding depending on what day it is,” Watson said. “When people ask me what I do, I ask them if they’ve ever been on a cruise ship before. If the answer is yes, then I tell them I’m the ‘cruise director.’”

Read more about 'Fun Boss' Josh Watson.

Carter Hunt gives talks at Zhejiang University in China

Carter Hunt, assistant professor of recreation, park and tourism management (RPTM), gave two guest lectures in October at theAsia Pacific Center for the Study of Leisure (APCL) at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. The lectures focused on Hunt's field-based research in Latin America and his work on word cloud analysis of tourism journal article titles and keywords. Read more about Carter Hunt's talks in China.

Alan Graefe receives national park and recreation award

Alan Graefe, professor of recreation, park and tourism management at Penn State, has been selected by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) to receive the 2013 Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Award for Excellence in Recreation and Park Research. NRPA will present the award to Graefe at a special reception at the association’s 2013 Congress & Exposition in Houston on Wednesday, Oct. 9. Read more about Alan Graefe receiving the 2013 Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Award for Excellence in Recreation and Park Research.

Peter Newman named head of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management

Peter Newman, the former associate dean of academic affairs in the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University, has assumed the role of head of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management at Penn State. He is replacing Garry Chick, who served as head of the department for four years. Read more about Peter Newman.

Alumnus ensures 2013 U.S. Open goes off without a hitch

As did most fledgling golfers in the mid-1990s, Penn State alumnus Sean Palmer grew up admiring Tiger Woods, one of the most successful golfers in the history of the sport. So when, decades later, Woods arrived at the Merion Golf Club on the outskirts of Philadelphia to practice for the U.S. Open (set to take place at the club from June 13 to 16), Palmer -- now a first assistant golf professional -- was more than pleased. Read more about Sean Palmer and the 2013 U.S. Open.

Neighborhood park renovations enhance visitor behaviors and experiences

Renovating public parks enhances visitor behaviors and experiences, according to researchers at Penn State, who surveyed park visitors in Allentown, Pa., about their use of a neighborhood park after it was renovated.

"It may seem obvious that park renovations benefit communities, but funders are increasingly demanding more scientific evidence, beyond anecdotal stories, that demonstrate the impact of park renovations," said Andrew Mowen, associate professor of recreation, park and tourism management. "Such information can help state and local government agencies assess the value of their financial investments in parks."

Bridge before and after

The researchers examined visitor perceptions of a major capital renovation that was completed at Allentown's 110-acre Cedar Creek Parkway in 2010. Renovations to this park included building a 25,000-square-foot destination playground, paving the multi-purpose trails, installing new exercise stations, refurbishing the flower garden, upgrading picnic areas and improving stream quality with a riparian buffer.

Read the full story, Neighborhood park renovations enhance visitor behaviors and experiences.

Coming to America: Understanding Cultural Adjustment Among Immigrants

When Svitlana Iarmolenko first came to the United States in 2008 to attend a master's degree program at East Carolina University, she figured she'd make new friends just as easily as she'd done back home in Ukraine. But rather than drawing in potential pals, she seemed to be pushing them away. more >>

Playfulness may help adults attract mates, study finds

Why do adults continue to play throughout their lives while most other mature mammals cease such behavior? According to researchers at Penn State, playfulness may serve an evolutionary role in human mating preferences by signaling positive qualities to potential long-term mates. "Humans and other animals exhibit a variety of signals as to their value as mates," said Garry Chick, professor and head of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management. "Just as birds display bright plumage or coloration, men may attract women by showing off expensive cars or clothing. In the same vein, playfulness in a male may signal to females that he is nonaggressive and less likely to harm them or their offspring. A woman's playfulness, on the other hand, may signal her youth and fertility." more >>

Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management APG Builds New Board

The Recreation, Park and Tourism Management Affiliate Program Group (RPTM APG) has a new board of directors that is working to reinvigorate existing programs and develop new ones that both connect RPTM alumni with each other and with the RPTM department. Read more about the RPTM APG Board.

Americans fall short of federal exercise recommendations

Americans spend, on average, only about two hours each week participating in sports and fitness activities, according to researchers at Penn State and the University of Maryland who examined U.S. government data from the American Time Use Study. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults aged 18 to 64 get about four hours of physical activity each week by exercising moderately for 2.5 hours per week and engaging in a vigorous activity, such as running and muscle strengthening, for an hour and fifteen minutes per week. "The United States is the fattest country in the world," said Geoffrey Godbey, professor emeritus of recreation, park and tourism management, Penn State. "The amount of exercise Americans get has become a major concern." more >>

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