Connie Magnuson, Ph.D., director of the Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies program, is a recipient of the 2014 President’s Award for Outstanding Service. This highly prestigious award is presented each spring and recognizes exceptional service to the University, its schools, colleges, departments, and service units by an active or retired faculty or staff member. Recipients of this award have gone far beyond their regular duties and demonstrated an unusual commitment to the University community.
In the award letter, President Kaler writes, “Your excellence is a model for your colleagues and co-workers to emulate. True to the mission of this great land-grant institution, you have done more than your share to make the University of Minnesota one of the preeminent institutions in the nation.”
Magnuson has directed the Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies program since 2006 and founded the all-University Gopher Adventure Race. This past January, she led a group of students to Tanzania and to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro as part of her course, REC 4301.
The School of Kinesiology has had one other recipient of the President’s Award for Outstanding Service. Faculty member and former director Prof. Mary Jo Kane received the award in 2006.
Mary Russell a Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies (RPLS) senior, studied abroad during a two-week excursion to Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania this past winter break. The College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) featured her travels in, “Traveling Tanzania: Catching up with Mary Russell.”
During her trip Russell went on a summit to Mt. Kilimanjaro and went on a multiple safaris in surrounding national parks. She described her trip as unreal and extremely memorable. Russell ended with this travel recommendation, “Be present and search out authentic experiences.”
To find out more about studying abroad in Tanzania in this video!
Photo courtesy of: CEHD Undergrad Experience
Dr. Connie Magnuson, director of the Recreation, Park and Leisure Studies (RPLS) program gave an invited presentation at the annual International Conference for the Association of Experiential Education in Denver, CO.
Her presentation titled, “Gopher Adventure Race: an Academic Learning Tool,” was given to attendees from all over the world. The presentation focused on how this complex event is planned, operated, and evaluated by the students in RPLS courses and how it serves as a hands-on learning tool. Students in the program gain valuable experience and transferable skill sets preparing them for work in the recreation industry. This is the very essence of experiential learning.
The CEHD Vision 2020 Blog recently featured the School of Kinesiology in two pieces.
Dr. Diane Wiese-Bjornstal, associate professor of kinesiology, contributed to an article, “5 Tips to Ensure Children Have a Quality Youth Sports Experience.” In the feature, Wiese-Bjornstal explains that both parents and coaches have a great impact on youth sport and must be competent, mindful, and motivational. Some tips she shares with sport parents are to, comment on great plays, encourage many different sports, do not coach from the sideline, and to cheer for good plays on both teams.
The blog also contains a preview of the annual Gopher Adventure Race (GAR) in, “Get Outdoors Day: 4th Annual Gopher Adventure Race Preview.” The GAR is organized and managed by the Recreation, Park and Leisure Studies Program and brings together 200 participants who take on physical and mental challenges across campus. Not only is the GAR a fun and competitive event but it also allows students to plan, implement, and gain valuable work experience. The article notes on the importance of outdoor recreation explaining that many benefits including better health, a spark in creativity, greater emotional connections, and wonderful memories happen that occur outdoors.
Dr. Connie Magnuson, faculty in Kinesiology and coordinator of the B.S. in Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies, is a contributor to the recently published ebook, Cultivating Change in the Academy: 50 Stories from the Digital Frontlines at the University of Minnesota in 2012. Magnuson’s chapter, “Costa Rica Digital Exploration,” focuses on the integration of digital storytelling into her Costa Rican study abroad course.
Cultivating Change is an eBook designed to stimulate discussion about what’s possible as well as generate new vision and academic technology direction. It serves as a means for faculty, instructors, students, and staff to learn about the innovative, imaginative, creative, collaborative, and dynamic academic technology work underway across the University of Minnesota in 2012. You can download the book at http://purl.umn.edu/125273, and join in on the conversation at
More recently the ebook has been the focus of the following articles:
Kinesiology graduate Cody Mikl has been selected to serve as the graduate student representative on the Board of Regents. Mikl is pursuing his Ph.D. in OLPD. He received his B.S. and M.A. degrees in Kinesiology with a sport management emphasis. Cody is also a physical activity program instructor and facility manager in the Department of Recreational Sports.
Dr. Connie Magnuson was an invited speaker at the Twin Cities Broadcasters Association Ascertainment Group, which is made up of the major and minor radio and television stations in the greater Twin Cities area. The topics Dr. Magnuson addressed were “Community Recreation Needs” and “Recreation Services and Accessibility for Underserved Populations.”
Early-bird registration for the third annual Gopher Adventure Race (GAR) is currently in full swing, with a discounted race fee until May 19. After May 19, entrants will be charged the regular rate. Space is limited, and since President Eric Kaler and his wife Karen Kaler are racing this year, Dr. Connie Magnuson, coordinator of the Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies B.S. program, anticipates the race will sell out quickly.
This year the overall team winners of the 2012 GAR will not only have their names engraved on the canoe-paddle trophy, which is displayed in the Cooke Hall lobby, but they will also win a four-day kayak trip to the Apostle Islands, courtesy of race partner Wilderness Inquiry. Other top-place prizes will be provided by The North Face, Nice Ride, and Midwest Mountaineering.
Who says a degree in Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies won’t bring you fame and fortune? He’s still working on the fortune part, but Cy Amundson, who received his B.S. in RPLS in 2008, is officially famous. Mr. Amundson will appear on Conan, the late-night talk show hosted by comedian Conan O’Brien, on Tuesday, April 3, on TBS at 10 p.m. While Amundson studied at the U of MN, he has been pursuing a career as a comedian for many years. He was a standout performer as a New Face at this year’s Montreal Just For Laughs Festival and was named CMT’s Next Big Comic in 2011.
Many of the University of Minnesota’s fastest-growing academic disciplines fall into industries predicted to thrive. The School of Kinesiology’s popular Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies undergraduate program, directed by Dr. Connie Magnuson, was highlighted in this category yesterday by the Minnesota Daily in the article “Top U fields have a future in the workforce.”
Along with biological sciences and construction trades, recreation and fitness studies saw the highest percentage growth in graduates within the past decade. This is promising news for Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies undergraduate students Brittany Turnis and Tyler Joing, who are featured in the story.
“This major puts you out there and gets you connected to people who can help you in the future or maybe get you a job,” Turnis said.
Read the full article here.
Dr. Connie Magnuson, Kinesiology lecturer and Director of the undergraduate Recreation, Park, and Leisure studies program, led a January-term adventure-learning class, Adventure Recreation, Tourism, and Ecotourism.
Students spent ten days of their winter break in Costa Rica learning about the diversity of the country. Their itinerary included coffee plantation tours, national park visits, and an overnight camping trip through the coastal jungle. View the highlights slideshow here.
Susie Miller, Kinesiology instructor of Recreation, Park, and Leisure studies, has been recognized by the College of Education and Human Development Alumni Society with the Emerging Leader Award.
The award is presented annually to outstanding graduates who have earned their highest degree from the college within the last 10 years, achieved early distinction in their career related to education and human development, are considered “rising stars” in their profession, and provided volunteer leadership and service to their communities.
Donna Tilsner, Kinesiology adjunct instructor in Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies (RPLS), will be honored with one of the top recognition awards in Minnesota for her outstanding work in recreation. On Jan. 12 she will be presented with the Clifton E. French Distinguished Service Award, the highest professional award given by the Minnesota Recreation and Parks Association (MRPA).
The award is open to candidates with over 20 years of professional service. Nominees are judged on community volunteerism, research, speeches, published articles, and professional certifications. Tilsner, an RPLS graduate (’76), has worked for the City of Edina since 1999 as a recreation supervisor, coordinating many programs and services for the Park and Recreation Department. She has also worked for Hopkins/Minnetonka and Eagan.
The award is named for Clifton E. French, who graduated from the University in 1948 with a B.S. and received his M.Ed. in recreation leadership in 1949. He worked as the director of Coffman Union and was the director of Edina Parks and Recreation and the executive director of the MRPA. He was the first superintendent of Hennepin County Park Reserve District.
(Photo shows Tilsner with RPLS student and Gopher basketball player Trevor Mbakwe at the Gopher Adventure Race.)
An article on the Gopher Adventure Race in the winter issue of the College of Education & Human Development’s Connect shines the spotlight on three School of Kinesiology lecturers.
Connie Magnuson, Ph.D., director of the B.S. program in recreation, park, and leisure studies, was mentioned for serving as the race organizer and supervising a 96-person staff of students. KIN lecturers Jennifer Bhalla, Ph.D. and Nicole LaVoi, Ph.D., were also noted for winning the race’s faculty category.
Download the Winter 2012 issue of Connect magazine (PDF).
Gopher Adventure racers learned just how large the U of M Twin Cities campus is last Friday at the second annual Gopher Adventure Race (GAR). Starting and ending at Northrop Plaza, the teams traveled the East Bank, West Bank, and St. Paul campuses, solving clues and performing physical and mental feats to compete for the coveted winner’s medal. Second-year medical students Tracey Powell and Beth Tacl finished first, completing the race in 4 hours 16 minutes.
The race was organized by a team of students and volunteers led by Dr. Connie Magnuson, director of the Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies B.S. program in the School of Kinesiology. In the photos, President Kaler stopped by before the race to pose with staff, and Jennifer Bhalla and Nicole LaVoi, faculty team from Kinesiology, flex for the camera. (Congratulations to Bhalla and LaVoi, who came in first in the Faculty division.)
KARE-11 covered the GAR:
An amazing race returns to the U of M. Dr. Connie Magnuson, director of Kinesiology’s Recreation, Park, & Leisure Studies (RPLS) undergraduate program, and John Lisec, Kinesiology PhD student, are working hard on the second annual Gopher Adventure Race to be held October 7. Following a format similar to the popular television show “The Amazing Race,” two-person teams will explore the Twin Cities campuses by taking on a variety of mental and physical challenges while deciphering clues. (There’s still time to sign up!)
While more than doubling the number of participants in last year’s inaugural race, Magnuson and Lisec are encouraging students, faculty, staff, and alumni to experience the outdoor and recreation opportunities that are available on the Twin Cities campuses. In addition to increasing awareness of the RPLS program at the U, the Gopher Adventure Race has also provided hands-on learning opportunities for RPLS students, who are gaining field experience through creating courses, marketing the event, and acquiring sponsors.
Dr. Connie Magnuson, lecturer and coordinator of the Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies program, spent the winter break in Costa Rica with RPLS undergraduates on a Study Abroad experience. You can see Costa Rica through their eyes in the video link below: (For best effect, select full screen!)