Alumni Information

Hello Alumni! Our annual newsletter is now combined with the rest of the department's newsletter. (We are no longer sending it out via snail mail.)

We've included Keith Russell's 2012 newsletter comments below. Read the full Newsletter.

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Recreation Program Coordinator Comments – Winter 2012

I send you a warm hello from Bellingham. We hope everyone has had a healthy, happy, and adventurous 2011. It has been an active and lively year in the Recreation Program and with the Bellingham Russells as my father calls us. We have had a year of working on the house, visiting family and friends, and exploring the beautiful paths less traveled in the great Pacific Northwest. My wife, Sheri, continues to develop her mediation business, work with the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center, and volunteer for various projects with the girls’ schools and theater productions. I am enjoying teaching in the program, working with our outstanding faculty and students, and working on projects with the Student Conservation Association and Alberta Health Services in Calgary, Canada. I also continue to coach Maysie’s soccer team--the mighty Blue Mustangs! Alena is a writer extraordinaire and is now a sixth grader and stays busy with ballet, lyrical ballet, and acting in local theater productions, including Annie! Maysie, a kick-ball playing third grader, loves playing soccer, doing her gymnastics, and acting. Both girls were in the same play in December, a comical adaptation of the Nutcracker called the Wutcraker! My girls, dogs, cat, and three fish wish you all a safe, healthy, and wonderful 2012.

The Recreation Program has had an eventful 2011, culminating with our annual Senior Banquet, which this year attracted 288 students, family members, and friends to send off our recent Phase IV graduates out into the world to make their mark. The banquet this year was memorable and included words of wisdom and hope from John de Graaf of the Seattle Happiness Initiative and Take Back Your Time!, reminding us all to remember to slow down, smell the roses, and reconnect with each other and those we love. In addition,
Megan Kennedy accepted her Outstanding Alumnus award for her tireless work with youth in East King County. The graduating Phase IV students also donated over $2,000 this year to the Legacy Scholarship fund through various fundraisers, including a student-initiated and driven silent auction at the banquet. The scholarship fund goes to support students on their internships. Thanks Phase IV 2011!

We also formally congratulated our own Jill Heckathorn for winning a prestigious Whatcom Peace Builder Award, an award given to an outstanding educator in Whatcom County by the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center. The media guide promoting the awards wrote: “Western Washington University Professor Jill Heckathorn takes her recreation courses to a new level. In 2002, she started Camp TEAM, a summer camp experience for 70 community members with disabilities and 60 of her students. Jill has contributed to peace building by creating transformative experiences and fostering understanding and friendships throughout our community.” We couldn’t be more proud of Jill and her tireless support of Camp TEAM, the people and organizations who work with and for people with disabilities in Whatcom County, our students, and campers who make Camp TEAM such a wonderful experience for all those involved. Way to go, Jill!

This past spring we held an alumni barbeque at Bloedel Donovan Park, attended by over 60 students and alumni, coming from as far away as Canada and Tacoma. (OK, Canada is not that far away, but you get the idea!). It was a wonderful event with classes of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s in attendance. We thank all of you alumni for your continued support and contributions to the Recreation Foundation, which supports student attendance at conferences, field trips and retreats, and faculty development opportunities. This past summer the Recreation Program faculty were busy preparing our self-study report for the Council on Accreditation for consideration of continued accreditation from the National Recreation and Parks Association (the Recreation Program was first accredited in 1986). The accreditation visit this year will be on April 19, 2012. We will be sending out a notice to all alumni who may be able to attend and share their insights with the accreditation

This year, thanks to student fundraising and your generous support, we were able to award two scholarships to students to financially assist them with their internships. Mikaela Trott, who traveled to Nicaragua and worked with troubled youth, and Samantha Carlson, a tourism student who interned in Samoa, were extremely appreciative of the scholarships realized through the Recreation Foundation. The faculty and students want to thank you all again for your continued contributions to the Foundation. The Recreation Program is healthy, vibrant, and continuing to make a difference in the field of recreation and leisure despite the doom and gloom that seems to constantly flow from Olympia. This year’s graduating Phase IV students contributed over 55,000 hours of service, through field work, service projects, and internships that ranged from Samoa to Boston. They will leave a legacy, as you all have done, and continue our excellence in the field. We look forward to seeing you all soon. Stay in touch! Best wishes to a safe, healthy and joyous 2012.

Best wishes,

Professor and Coordinator, Recreation Program

Page Updated 01.15.2013