Up and Coming: Meet the New Wave of Parks and Recreation Researchers

Article excerpt

MOST UNIVERSITY EDUCATORS WEAR TWO HATS--instructor and researcher. In studying and quantifying trends and issues in the field of parks and recreation, they reinforce their areas of expertise, which in turn makes them better teachers and broadens the knowledge base for the entire field of practitioners and advocates.

The magazine's editors asked the standard bearers of university research for their picks for up-and-coming researchers. These academics have recently made their marks in shaping the way the field is studied and guided by their findings.

Each is listed by his or her current university, education, and field(s) of expertise. They also responded to the editors' question:

What is the single biggest challenge facing the field of parks and recreation in the next several years and how can research address it?

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Jason N. Bocarro, Associate Professor

Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, North Carolina

EDUCATION: Ph.D. Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Sciences (youth development/ outdoor education concentration), Texas A&M University; M.A. Recreation, Physical, and Health Education (youth development/ outdoor education concentration), Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; B.S. Sport and Exercise Science/ Sociology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, England.

AREAS OF INSTRUCTION AND RESEARCH: Bocarro is a recipient of an N.C. State University Outstanding Teaching Award and in 2009-10 was inducted into the university's Academy of Outstanding Teachers. Bocarro's research focuses on childhood and adolescent obesity and inactivity and specifically how sport and recreation can contribute to alleviating this public health problem. Most of his current research efforts have been targeted around the issue of how parks, recreation, and youth sport programs can increase the physical activity levels of children and adolescents. He has four current physical activity research projects funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and two funded projects from USA Hockey and the National Hockey League. He also served on the board of the Society for Park and Recreation Educators (2006-09) and is currently serving a two-year term (2011-13) as the research co-chair for the National Recreation and Park Association.

CHALLENGE AND OPPORTUNITY: The biggest single challenge will relate to the viability of the park and recreation field/profession. Recent events, such as the worst economic recession in recent memory, combined with significant social trends (e.g., growth of technology, competing service providers, growing population diversity) will provide the park and recreation profession with the challenge of effective program delivery and resource management. With the increased growth of other providers offering leisure programming, the park and recreation profession wilt have to answer the question of why they are the best option of delivering programs and managing park and recreation resources.

Research toots have become more sophisticated (e.g., geospatial technology, apps), which allows the potential to more accurately answer the questions related to the challenges above. Furthermore, researchers are recognizing (or at least they should be!) the need to better translate their research to wider audiences. The translation/dissemination piece of research wilt be an increasingly critical part of the research process in the future.

Michael B. Edwards, Assistant Professor

Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Sciences

Texas A&M University

College Station, Texas

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

EDUCATION: Ph.D. Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management (youth sport and physical activity), North Carolina State University; M.A. Arts in Exercise and Sport Science, East Carolina University; B. …