Blane Pittman

An RSPA internship

Desert Recreation District logoDesert Recreation District Internship
Coachella Valley, California

The goal of the DRD Internship Program, where I decided to go, is to provide an intern with the opportunity to apply information and skill obtained in the classroom to real-life working situations. This internship also offered me the opportunity to gain experience in planning, organizing, leading and evaluating various recreational programs. Furthermore, I developed a constructive review and evaluation of my skills and competencies; thus giving me a realistic direction to further professional development.

The Desert Recreation District (DRD) is California's largest park and recreation district that covering more than 1,800 square miles. It provides a large variety of recreation facilities and programs for youth, adults, adaptive recreation, and active older adults. DRD continually seeks to improve and increase available programs and opportunities for the residents of the Coachella Valley where I lived. The District operates 21 recreation facilities with a total of 1,338 acres and covers over 12 different and diverse communities.

I worked with a large, highly diversified workforce with a wide range of expertise. The District maintains 33 full-time team members, 150 part-time team members, and 50-70 seasonal-team members. DRD also contracts with approximately 40 service providers and utilizes hundreds of volunteers. Positions range from personal trainer to accountant, preschool teacher, to fitness center manager, group exercise leader to park maintenance worker, planning and development manager to special event coordinator, and many more.

Job descriptions for each intern, like myself, are tailored to their interests. My internship experience included working with a lot of different staff in a variety of programs and communities. The main programs I was involved in were Trips for Kids and Hand Cycling. Trips for Kids is a mountain-biking program for boys and girls ages 10-17 and focuses on lessons in responsibility, achievement and environmental awareness, through the simple act of having fun.

RSPA intern Blane Pittman leading a mountain biking excursionMountain bike depot

Hand Cycling is an adaptive recreation program that gets the disabled community out of their homes and hospital rooms, having fun learning how to hand cycle. This program is on two Saturdays of every month at the La Quinta Community Center as well as at special events, local schools, and hospitals.

Disabled rider mounting his hand cycleHand cycles

Other events, meetings, and programs I was involved in include:

  • The Adaptive Recreation and Sports Council,
  • "Pet-Sterilization" free spay and neuter community events,
  • Bocce Ball Fridays, and
  • Spring Break Camps in Palm Desert, California.

Overall this internship was a great experience. All the staff I met are professional, friendly, and welcoming. Internship coordinator Barb Adair was extremely nice and went above and beyond to make sure I fit in, felt comfortable, and got the experiences I wanted and needed. I would recommend an internship with DRD to anyone who loves recreation and wants to be involved in a large-scale professional park and recreation agency. It has so much to offer that I was able to not only display my current skills and knowledge, but also learn new ones. It also showed me how exceptionally prepared I was from my education and training in the RSPA program at Missouri State University. This internship with DRD was a great way to complete my college degree, and move into a new career with a high-end, professional parks and recreation agency.