Welcome to the Northern Virginia Community College Website

Accessibility Navigation:


Annandale Recreation & Parks

This program is designed to prepare students for the field of recreation and parks in both private and public agencies; provide those already employed in this field an opportunity to improve and upgrade their skills; and guide students who wish to transfer to a four-year institution in Recreation and Parks.

Occupational objectives include recreation leader, assistant recreation supervisor, park ranger, assistant park manager and park manager.

Attention current RPK students - Sign up for classes!

At the moment, the RPK Program is in transition, with the likelihood of being phased out of the college offerings in three years. We are not accepting any new students into the program, but classes remain open to all students for personal and professional development.

However, for continuing students, we want to do everything possible to assist you in meeting your graduation goals. To that end, we strongly encourage you to register for your spring classes as soon as possible. As time goes along the course choices may be more limited.

Please contact your advisor, Larry Smith, at lmsmith@nvcc.edu with any questions or concerns. You may also contact me at mvandermate@nvcc.edu or 703.323.3228.

We look forward to hearing from you soon and wish you all the best in your academic endeavors.

Internships allow you to incorporate on-the-job-training while still attending school. Interns may be compensated for the time on the job. Internships allow you to sample a job without making any long-term commitments. The successful completion of an internship makes you more likely to be offered a job by the host agency upon graduation. At the very least, the knowledge and skills you gained during the internship reflect well on your resume.

Check out the Student Conservation Association. Earn college credit, a hefty monthly stipend (up to $500/week), all travel and housing expenses paid and earn up to $4,575 towards future education. The SCA hires in as many as 50 disciplines. Participants are very often hired in an agency based on their internship performance. Work in any national park in the United States!

The Random House Dictionary defines the term "benefit" as ...

"Anything that is advantageous or for the good of a person. To derive benefit of advantage; profit; make improvement."

Student membership benefits in a professional organization are:

Really Cool Stuff!

  • A cool hat and a cool T-shirt let you show your pride!
  • A Frisbee helps you realize the benefit of participation!
  • Reduced-cost tickets let you get into amusement parks, no doubt to study operations and concessions (or just play?)!
  • A free squeezy ball helps you reduce stress!
  • A collection of great clip art makes your advertising look professional!
  • A handy duffle bag lets you carry your dirty socks off the court in style!
  • You get this "Really Cool Stuff" at professional conferences hosted for members only!

Historical Perspective

Knowing the history of the recreation and leisure services movement helps a student understand the current trends in the industry.


Sample the extensive range that is Leisure Services & Recreation! The knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to be a professional are grounded in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary study.

Whoever coined the phrase, "Jack of all trades and master of none," never knew a recreation professional. Recreation professionals are "Masters of Many." To be a master of many you must study all aspects of human endeavor.


  • Create a network.
  • Rub elbows with fellow students who share the same aspirations and dreams.
  • Rub elbows with faculty and practitioners.
  • Rub elbows with the best!

Conference Participation and Travel Opportunities

The greatest personal and professional growth comes from exposure to different perspectives and shared ideas. This is the essence of the professional conference. Members pay a substantially reduced rate to participate in special classes and training at these gatherings.

Recreation professionals know all the roads less traveled. Get out and about! No one ever learned by staying in one place and only hearing one voice.

See everything you can. Talk to everyone you can!

Disclaimer: Only self-propelled persons need apply … batteries not included!
Check with your tax advisor as some expenses may be tax deductible!


Gone are the days of apprenticeships. Mentoring is all the buzz and rage!

There are many professionals that would love to share knowledge gained through their experience. They want to share and work side by side with students. Professionals in the leisure services and recreation industry are life-long learners and teachers. A day does not pass without gained knowledge, skills or abilities.

Mentoring also bridges the gap between those who have gained knowledge in the field, and those who have gained knowledge through formal education. The industry is beginning to reconcile the importance of combining on-the-job training with formal education (get those CEU's). Each is equally important. So grab yourself a mentor!

Reinforcement of Academic Concepts

Practice makes perfect! All those classes really pay off when you hear practicing professionals using the same terminology. Do you speak the industry lingo?

When a term is redefined or a new phrased coined, you will be the first to know as a member!

Professional Certification

Organizations prepare their membership for nationally recognized certification by organizing and providing specialty classes and training. These classes are taught (in general) by the best. Certification within the field usually results in an increase in pay and responsibility on the job. In pursuit of employment, he or she with the certification wins almost every time!

A current trend ...
Until certification is the standard by which practitioners are consistently hired or ranked in the leisure industry, certification may or may not be required. As an aspiring professional, you will need to make a personal judgment about the value and benefit of certification within your specialty. Be proactive in your career development. Invest in yourself and seek certification. You will ultimately benefit.

Affordable Membership

Never again will being a member of a professional organization be more affordable than while you are a student. You will receive all the same information the practitioner does at a substantially reduced cost.

There is no cheaper way to get the same information and benefits. There is no cheaper way to get you up to date and current in the profession!

Grants and Scholarships

Many organizations offer educational grants and scholarships to reward students for academic achievement. Organizations also make funds available to students for pursuit of advanced degrees. Grants and scholarships are funded by membership dues and sponsors.

Students are nominated by practitioners based on their academic standing (GPA) and/or their in-service contribution to the industry.

Access to State-of-the-Art Information

Professional organizations typically publish one or more journals. These pages are home to state of the art information, current statistics and research results. These journals are a student's best friend during a research project. The bibliographies alone are worth their weight in gold!

Organizations maintain libraries in their national offices to support the membership and its need for information. Often organizations have librarians on staff that can assist you in a search of resources. Information published by organizations is often more reliable than the information you find in random Internet queries. The printed publications of most national organizations are peer reviewed and validated. Members get first crack at the information!

Legislative Updates

Professional organizations have legislative interests. These organizations lobby (work to bring regulatory change/"law making") for causes that help the organization meet its stated goals and objectives.

To be a member in an organization one must know what these goals and objectives are and the method by which they are realized. Your organization will track and report to the membership all state and federal legislation that promotes or hinders the organization's goals.

Making a Difference Through Membership

Each of us should want to make a difference in the world. Most leisure services and recreation professionals are in the "biz" for this expressed purpose (not the paycheck)! Don't just join an organization for the sake of joining. Commit yourself to an organization that shares your philosophical beliefs and practices.

It is through the act of taking ownership in a cause that you become an active and effective member in an organization.


A good newsletter is a great communication tool. They come in both print and in listserv (email) environments. Members only!

Professional Self Discovery

Now that you know the benefits of student membership ... will you join?