Recreation, Park, Tourism, and Hospitality

Recreation, Park, Tourism, and Hospitality Careers

Today’s society is increasingly leisure-oriented and experience driven. The RPTH Department prepares students to design, deliver, and evaluate programs for participants across the leisure sectors.  The Leisure and Hospitality industries include Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation as one sector, and Accommodation and Food Services as the other. Often-times the REST acronym (Recreation, Entertainment, Sports, and Tourism) is used to encompass the leisure industries (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019).

The tremendous growth in the leisure industries is being fueled by demands for experiences as well as demographic changes in the United States and globally. As the population of the U.S. ages and becomes more diversified there will be an increased need for individuals capable of delivering programs specifically designed for individuals with disabilities and marginalized communities. In the State of Illinois there are more than 300 park districts, roughly 100,000 nonprofit organizations, and an incalculable number of organizations involved in delivering programs for youth. According to the 2013-2017 American Community Survey (US Census Bureau), there are almost three million children in the State of Illinois. According to the Outdoor Industry Association (2017), the outdoor recreation economy provides 7.6 million jobs in the United States, and facilitates $887 billion dollars in annual consumer spending. And, while the hospitality, sport, events, and travel industries have been negatively impacted by a global pandemic, they are anticipated to bounce back quickly. 

Professional careers in recreation and leisure services offer challenging, meaningful and highly rewarding opportunities. Whether you are interested in working with children, teens, adults, marginalized populations; with outdoor adventure or resource management, cultural arts, hospitality or travel, sports or events; in hospitals or nonprofit settings, theme parks or the military…. leisure industry positions are available.  For more information, please look at recreation and leisure service employment opportunities in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (U. S. Department of Labor).


Recent graduates are employed at agencies like:

  • Adventure Works
  • Peoria Civic Center
  • Arlington Heights Park District
  • Itasca Country Club
  • American Cancer Society
  • US Army Corp of Engineers
  • HyVee
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Easter Seals
  • Washington State Parks
  • George Johnson Development
  • Jason’s Deli
  • O’Fallon Park Department
  • McDonalds Corporate Headquarters

Alumni Testimonials

To learn more about how RPTH prepares students for careers in the leisure industries, please watch the short videos below. 

Tom Miller, Manager of Sommer Farm at the Peoria Park District

Tom Miller graduated in 1987 and now serves as the manager of Sommer Farm at the Peoria Park District. He found a career that blended his love of the outdoors with his passion for improving his local community. His position allows him to interact with diverse groups of staff, volunteers, and park guests in outdoor settings as he coordinates events, facilitates low rope courses, plans outdoor activities, and coordinates resource management endeavors.


Adrianna Tuszynski, Quality Assurance Manager with Mosaic

Adrianna Tuszynski, CTRS, is a 2012 graduate of RPTH who now serves as the Quality Assurance Manager with Mosaic in Macomb and Pontiac, IL. In her role she works closely with service providers to assure that the needs of individuals with disabilities are met. She attributes the hands-on learning opportunities provided through her RPTH coursework with helping her develop professional networks and gain valuable experience.