January 21, 2009
Working with youth outside of a classroom setting presents a unique set of challenges. As the profession of youth work continues to evolve, the recreation management and youth leadership program at Indiana State University is taking steps to ensure its graduates are ready to meet the needs of young people.
The program is the first in Indiana to achieve accreditation by the Indiana YouthPRO Association, a professional organization for individuals and groups working with school-age youth.
Recreation management and youth leadership students now will automatically earn the Indiana Youth Development (IYD) credential upon graduation from the recreation management and youth leadership program and upon completion of the American Humanics nonprofit management certificate program. The IYD is a competency-based distinction to professionally recognize knowledge, skills, and experience. For students, that means the chance to stand out among the competition in the job market, said Nathan Schaumleffel, assistant professor and coordinator of the recreation management and youth leadership program.
"Youth development theory has accelerated in the past few years and youth work as a distinct profession is emerging," said Schaumleffel, who also serves as campus executive director of the American Humanics nonprofit management program. "This new credential is an important part of our academic program at Indiana State University."
Schaumleffel said the interaction between adults and children is a crucial element of youth work. Program graduates go on to work with young people in public park and recreation settings, as well as nonprofit youth-serving organizations.
The recreation management and youth leadership program at ISU provides students not only with a degree, but with external credentials and community-based experience. In addition to the new Indiana Youth Development credential, students earning a degree in recreation management and youth leadership also leave ISU certified as nonprofit organization managers through the American Humanics program and have the option of earning a minor in public administration. As recreation management and youth leadership students near graduation, they can opt to sit for the Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) exam, because of the program's primary accreditation by the National Recreation and Park Association.
Rodney Dedeaux, a junior majoring in recreation management and youth leadership with a minor in public administration, looks forward to a career that will enable him to meet a variety of needs.
"I wanted to work with young people because our profession in a human service to all people, not just youth," he said. "Youth come to us for physical, emotional, vocational and other services that are offered under one roof."
During his work as an undergraduate, Dedeaux has attended several American Camp Association conferences and the Indiana Youth Institute Conference. He is also a member of the ISU AmeriCorps chapter. He knows that the opportunities provided through involvement in such programs, as well as graduating with an IYD credential, will help him achieve his goal of directing a youth sport program.
"I can demonstrate that I am able to apply my skills and knowledge in youth settings," he said.
An emphasis on community engagement and service learning through student clubs, class assignments, internships and other co-curricular opportunities gives students like Dedeaux the training needed to be fully prepared for careers as professional youth workers and managers of agencies that serve youth, Schaumleffel said.
Other co-curricular experiences include retreats and professional development activities through the Journey Youth Work program, the American Humanics NextGen Scholarship program, opportunities to work at the ISU Field Campus, and attend the Indiana Youth Institute annual Kids Count conference and the Indiana Park and Recreation Association state conference. Through ISU's Center for Public Service and Community Engagement, students visit the Hull House in Chicago, serve in AmeriCorps and participate in alternative spring break service trips.
"There are many critical issues when it comes to working with youth such as increasing rates of autism, obesity, ADD/ADHD and disconnection with nature. Solving these problems is going to take a coordinated effort among disciplines," Schaumleffel said. "The field has changed and we have to keep up with best practices and how we work together."
Contact: Nathan Schaumleffel, assistant professor of recreation and sport management, Indiana State University, 812-237-2189 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Emily Taylor, assistant director of media relations, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or email@example.com
As the field of youth work evolves, the recreation management and youth leadership program at Indiana State University has achieved a new accreditation to help ensure its graduates are ready to meet the demands of the profession.