Recreation Management

January 2019 Featured Alumni


Carl Klubertanz

UWL Recreation Management ‘14 B.S.

Photo of Carl Klubertanz, recreation management alum

Carl Klubertanz has been on our shortlist for a feature since we started a few months ago. Carl provided us with further insight into the networking and pride that our department takes in offering opportunities to hard working students. Now in the Director of Facilities position at the La Crosse Area Family YMCA, Carl explained that during his coursework he had the opportunity to take an aquatics facility operations class with an instructor who owned his own business. “Because of the relationship I built during this course, I was able to conduct my internship with this company, which allowed me to network with multiple Parks and Recreation departments across the state to include organizations like the YMCA” Carl explained.

Through his internship experience he was able to start at the YMCA as a property manager. Utilizing his military background and experience through internship, Carl has advanced to his current role as the Director of Facilities. His connection to our department has continued ever since. Carl has been invited to speak at career panels and even participate on the program’s curriculum advisory board. Having the opportunity to continually improve and maintain a program he enjoyed “has been a great privilege and honor”. As a student who entered the program at the time Carl was completing it, I [Patrick] can say many changes have created greater specialization for students.

When asked about his college experience, Carl told us that he appreciated the classes that spent time outdoors. Though the curriculum has changed, many classes still present that opportunity, including the Foundations course often taught by Daniel Widuch. About Daniel, Carl stated “I have never met someone so passionate about the essence of the program and about the message communicated to future generations about experiential education”. Around La Crosse, time on the river or in the woods have been Carl’s favorite places. Not alone in his sentiments of winter, park and rec volleyball and reading is where you might find Carl in the coming months.

Pressed for his advice to students interested in recreation management, Carl echoed Keegan, “volunteer, network, make mistakes! Get out there, experience as much as possible…if you want something, work for it. Everyone starts somewhere, so make the most of it”. From the writer’s seat, I can tell you Carl certainly has. His name has come up more times than I can count in those career panels, community programs, guest speakers, and here again in nominations for a featured alum. UWL Recreation Management is proud of its alumni, both local and a far, and the department would like to thank Carl for sharing his story as this month’s featured alum!

Carl Klubertanz, RM B.S. '13

Interview conducted and article written by Patrick Killian, UWL Recreation Management ‘15 B.S., UWL Therapeutic Recreation ‘19 M.S.

Recreation Management

December 2018 Featured Alumni


Keegan Mills

UWL Recreation Management ‘14 B.S.

Rec Management alum Keegan Mills with dog

This month we feature Keegan Mills, who earned his B.S. in Recreation Management from UWL in 2014. He chose UWL because his parents had both graduated from the UW System and the campus feel resonated with him. His final visit was “on a beautiful summer night, people were slacklining, throwing frisbees and chilling in hammocks, a student body having fun on campus.” He says he knew “this is where I need to go.” Coming from Minnesota he didn’t know anyone, but went from knowing no one to making amazing friends and finding a degree worth earning. “I was a lost soul in college, I hope some non-Rec majors read this. It was a life changing event to find this program. The program set me up for success”. Four and a half years after graduating, Keegan finds himself in the business of “running” major running events.

Keegan currently works for RAM Races in Buffalo Grove, IL as a course and site manager. RAM Races hosts running races in cities across the U.S. with anywhere from 5 to 38 thousand runners participating in each race. Since summer 2018 Keegan has been working with communities to plot courses, gain permits, and establish relationships to ensure that cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, San Diego, and more are prepared for the thousands of racers who will fill their streets for a day of running. He also helps manage the day-of race logistics. Before joining the racing group Keegan worked nearly four years in military recreation.

Keegan fulfilled his internship at the Naval Station Great Lakes (Great Lakes, IL) in the summer of 2014. They invited him to stay on as a recreation specialist after, and in those years he offered recreation programs to the sailors and their families, as well as helping to manage a marina. When pressed on the impact his recreation management education had on his time in Great Lakes, Keegan echoed last month’s featured alumni, Ali Roberts, citing REC 200’s facilitations class (now part of REC 300) as both enjoyable and impactful. “The fun games we presented and experienced others present, I reused a good chuck of those. I pulled activities directly out of that class,” Keegan explained. And though his education set him up, he feels that the internship was the professional transition he needed to apply his classroom experiences to a true career. The work ethic he applied to the recreation management program has continued into his career, and Keegan advises students and young professionals not to stop growing.

“Continue to learn and make yourself an asset.” Keegan implores recreation majors and professionals to never stop learning, a practice he preaches through certifications he earned during his internship and in the years after while at the naval station. Keegan cited senior lecturer Daniel Widuch with helping him find his internship site, but also in teaching him how to find the best opportunities. When he had narrowed down his internship ideas to military recreation, Daniel was able to connect Keegan with multiple opportunities and previous interns who helped him choose to apply. “Whether it’s your internship, first job, or fourth job, network! Build relationships with mentors (and coworkers) and hold on to them.” Keegan stressed that the ability to build relationships were able to help him find an internship, and a job that he has truly enjoyed.

Networking is what brought Keegan and I together for this article. I’d like to congratulate Keegan on being an exceptional example of what a recreation manager can be. His social media posts have kept me up to date with his appetite for art and adventure in his personal recreation. We are looking for more RM graduates to feature. Please take Keegan’s advice and share our features with your fellow RM graduates or nominate an alum that you’d like to see featured. You can message us through our Facebook page, or email Dr. Dan Plunkett.

UWL alum Keegan mills hiking

Keegan Mills, RM B.S. '14

Interview conducted and article written by Patrick Killian, UWL Recreation Management ‘15 B.S., UWL Therapeutic Recreation ‘19 M.S.

Recreation Management

November 2018 Featured Alumni


Ali Roberts

UWL Recreation Management ‘16 B.S.

This month we catch up with Ali Roberts, currently a Sports Coordinator at the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver – in Thornton, CO (North of Denver). Ali gained experience as a supervisor, lifeguard, and swim coach at her local pool in the summers before heading to Yellowstone National Park the summer of 2015, between her junior and senior years, where she was a Recreation Coordinator. After finishing her course work at UWL, Ali established Vagabond Cruise in Hilton Head, South Carolina  as an internship site. She stayed on in full time positions at Vagabond Cruise working as the Food and Beverage Manager and the Passenger Services Manager, working from 2016 to late 2017. Missing the mountains Ali headed to the Denver area in  search of work last spring and earned her current position as a Sports Coordinator.

Ali’s experiences in outdoor recreation, tourism/commercial recreation, and now in non-profit and sports is the reason we chose to feature her. She shared some of her favorite La Crosse perspectives with us, about the program and the area: “the facilitation coursework gave me great insight into day to day work as a recreation professional”. REC 200, now part of REC 300 was her favorite course, but one of the most impactful instructors for her was Dr. Laurie Harmon. “Especially at the end of school, she helped me feel comfortable making decisions regarding internship, and our conversations provided me with confidence as I moved on to becoming a professional.”

When asked about her favorite aspects of La Crosse, Ali was clearly passionate about her involvement as a student athlete. Ali’s soccer career at UWL ended with the school’s first ever national tournament appearance. Outside of soccer, Ali loved the outdoors of La Crosse: “the bluffs so close to campus and even Perrot, a beautiful state park very close, and the river too”. Her favorite hotspots include Root Note for coffee, Bodega for pub food, and the rooftop of the Charmant for feeling fancy. 

When asked for words of wisdom for current recreation management students, Ali offered that “college itself is an experience that teaches you, it’s a unique opportunity to grow in all parts of your life”. Specific to the program and the profession, Ali would advise students “[not to] limit yourself, take on a challenge outside of your experience, and pursue your interest to the highest level that an internship or the field can offer. If you want to try tourism go somewhere touristy, if you want outdoor recreation go out west. Find the realest experiences you can find”. And when you leave the university system, Ali passionately encouraged students to continue their education, saying that jobs themselves will teach you about your passions. Just like choosing your major during the first year(s) of undergrad, when the right position finds you, you’ll know. The more you engage in recreation, the more quickly you’ll find your niche.

Ali is a jack of all trades and has inspired me in the classroom and in the field to take recreation seriously. Seriously enjoy it and professionally facilitate it.

Interview conducted and article written by Patrick Killian, UWL Recreation Management ‘15 B.S., UWL Therapeutic Recreation ‘19 M.S.

News and noteworthy accomplishments

UW-La Crosse announced it has opened a new Tourism Research Institute, which will serve as a resource for tourism-related research needs. Recreation Management Assistant Professor and Institute Director, Dan Plunkett, founded the Institute as a direct result of a tourism boom in the La Crosse area. For more details, check out the Tourism Research Institute website or contact Dan Plunkett at 608.785.8204 or via email 

Tourism Research Institute in the News:

UWL opens new Tourism Research Institute 

New tourism program launched at UW-La Crosse

UW-La Crosse opens Tourism Research Institute

In addition to information on this page, we invite you to go to "UW-La Crosse Recreation Management" on Facebook and Linkedin for other departmental information.

Several members of our department came together as a team to play in a wheelchair basketball tournament held on campus. We had an outstanding showing of support from our colleagues and their families as they cheered us on, all the way to the semi-finals. It was an exciting day of recreating together, and we even had the chance to play a team of our therapeutic recreation students! This event was enjoyed by many, and we are looking forward to playing together in the next tournament.

Noteworthy accomplishments

The following are just a few accomplishments in Recreation Management and Therapeutic Recreation over the past year. 

Departmental accomplishments

  • The Department of Recreation Management and Therapeutic Recreation recently became re-accredited by the Council on Accreditation for Parks, Recreation and Tourism (COAPRT). UW-La Crosse has the only COAPRT-accredited program in the state of Wisconsin. 
  • RM/TR has added 3 new faculty members starting 2016-2017. We welcome Brian Kumm-Schaley, Ph.D. teaching in RM, Kari Kensinger, Ph.D. teaching in TR, and Lindsey Kirschbaum, M.S. teaching in TR.

Student accomplishments

  • Over the past three years, 91% of UWL students passed the National Council of Therapeutic Recreation Certification Examination. This compares to a national average passage rate of 67%.
  • Graduate student Tommy Means was named a 2013 Academy of Leisure Sciences Future Scholar. This award goes to two students in the country who show potential as a Ph.D. student in the field of recreation.
  • During the 2013-2014 academic year, nine undergraduates completed undergraduate research projects, and seven graduate students completed theses or graduate projects.
  • UWL Career Services Employment Statistics for 2012-2013 graduates
    Recreation Management: 100% of graduates reporting had jobs in the field
    Therapeutic Recreation: 80% of graduates reporting had jobs in the field, 7% were attending graduate school, 13% were employed outside the field
  • UWL Career Services Employment Statistics for 2011-2012 graduates
    Recreation Management: 77% of graduates reporting had jobs in the field, 11% were attending graduate school, 12% were employed outside the field
    Therapeutic Recreation: 70% of graduates reporting had jobs in the field, 30% were attending graduate school

Faculty accomplishments

  • Dr. Laurie Harmon has been promoted to Associate Professor.
  • Dr. Laurie Harmon had a book chapter on "Place Connections" published in Demystifying Theories in Tourism Research
  •  Dr. Nancy Richeson along with Angie Sardina had an article titled Recreational Therapy Comptencies for Working with Older Adults published in the American Journal of Recreation Therapy.
  • Dr. Nancy Richeson along with Ellen Rozak did a brief review of loneliness: Correlates, consequences, and considerations for recreational therapists. The review was published in The American Journal of Recreation Therapy.