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Parks & Recreation Success StoriesParks & Recreation Success Stories

Parks & Recreation Success Stories

Vanessa Ewt - Mon Valley YMCA

Internship title: Youth and Teen Department Intern

How did you find your internship?

I actually found my internship by accident.  I was having a rough time deciding what I wanted to do in life and struggling to find a job or an internship because everything opportunity you needed experience or to be 21.  I am not 21 and do not have much experience. At this point I was a dual major in Robotics Engineering Technology and Park and Recreation Management and a minor in music.

I attended school at Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center during my time at Laurel Valley and Ligonier Valley High School as part of the Mechatronics class.  I participated in Vex Robotics competitions and Bots IQ competitions, which both take place at California University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Mike Amrhein and I are part of an Occupational Advisory Board at Eastern Westmoreland for the Mechatronics program.  I decided that I did not want to be in Robotics Engineering Technology anymore.  I was walking out of the Engineering department office after dropping my Robotics major and I ran into Mike and told him what I did.  We sat down and had a conversation where I told him that I wasn’t happy anymore with my major but I still enjoy robotics and I was struggling to find and internship. He told me he was forming a collaboration with the Mon Valley YMCA and California University of PA to run a Seaperch underwater robotics program.

So he told me to look over the website and I met with the youth and teen director and Mike and we discussed everything and I was hired on as an intern at the Mon Valley YMCA.

What are you primary responsibilities/day-to-day activities?

On Mondays I assist my supervisor with kindergym.

On Wednesdays I watch/assist my supervisor and the assistant with the Madonna Catholic Regional School gym class and every other week I help with the Teen Leaders Club.

On Thursdays I help with the Madonna Catholic Regional School also, if I do not have classes and I run a Seaperch Camp about an underwater robot that students in grades 6-12 build themselves.

Monday-Thursday my supervisor and I run an afterschool program called HALO. We offer homework help/tutoring and prepare a nutritious meal for them.

What is the best part of your internship?

The best part of my job is the students I work with, they are a true blessing.  They make coming to my internship fun and enjoyable and not seem like work at all.  I had a student tell me that he and another staff member made him believe again.  That is a moment I live for and cherish every day and I know I am in the right field and this is my future.

Would you recommend this internship to someone else?

I do recommend this internship and in fact I have already suggested it to another Park and Recreation student.

A quote from you regarding your experience?

I was truly lost in life before my internship.  Now I have found out what I want to do in life, I would like to work in a YMCA with youth and teen.  I have never been happier and I am putting 110% into this internship and treating it more like a career but I am still learning.  I especially love this internship because I really enjoy the people I work with and the students I work with.  I love everything I do at the Mon Valley YMCA and hope to have a future here or at another YMCA.


Scott Hartman - Jump Start Sports, LLC

Scott Hartman

Internship title: Program Coordinator/Instructor

How did you find your internship?

Pennsylvania Parks and Recreation Society Conference (PRPS)

What are you primary responsibilities/day-to-day activities?

Leading sports programs for youth (ages primarily 4-12)

What is the best part of your internship?

The experience you receive working with the kids. It's priceless.

Would you recommend this internship to someone else?


A quote from you regarding your experience?

15 years of school all focused towards 3 months of a summer internship; and I couldn't have been more prepared.


Travis Miles - The Brownson House

Internship title: Program Coordinator

How did you find your internship?

Through reference of another student.

What are you primary responsibilities/day-to-day activities?

Design and Coordinate Lacrosse Programs for children ages 6-14.

What is the best part of your internship?

Working with children and watching them successfully complete my program.

Would you recommend this internship to someone else?


A quote from you regarding your experience?

My internship experience was a great way for me to begin experiencing life as a professional and will always be a great memory of how hard work not only pays off in the future but opens doors that I never thought were even there.

Ben Orendorff

Benn OrendorffImagine a job where you are outdoors, interacting with hundreds of people every day. Your daily operations consist of managing paintball fields, supervising a 40-foot high ropes course, and establishing and maintaining off-road trails. On occasion, you even get to play with and feed hyenas, wolf pups and zebras. For Ben Orendorff ’07, this is his job and his paradise.

“I get paid to have fun,” Orendorff explained when describing his responsibilities as the recreation coordinator level two at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, PA.

Looking to improve his educational experience while a student at Cal, Orendorff contacted the Cal U Internship Center, which helped him land an internship at Ohiopyle State Park. Since it was not paid, Orendorff decided to apply for a part-time job at Nemacolin Woodlands to cover his expenses. He didn’t land the part-time job, instead, they offered him a paid internship as a recreation coordinator with the opportunity of being hired full time. He accepted and immediately following his internship at Nemacolin, Orendorff was hired full time.

“They loved me,” Orendorff rightfully boasted about his success at Nemacolin. “I went in with a good head on my shoulders, I was prepared, and I stood out from the other interns.”

Orendorff, who graduated with dual degrees in parks and recreation, and Global Information Systems (GIS) and Emergency Management, credits his preparation not only to his classroom experiences at Cal U, but also through Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits training.

As the recreation operations manager at Nemacolin, Matt Grobe worked with Orendorff each day during his internship. Grobe soon discovered Orendorff’s undeterred dedication and enthusiasm towards his responsibilities.

“Ben’s position is a great entry-level recreation position,” Grobe explained. “He hit all of the qualifications we were looking for—dedication, enthusiasm and interest.”

Dr. Thomas Wickham, chairman of the department of earth science and Orendorff’s internship advisor, was not surprised when he heard of Orendorff’s successes.

“With Nemacolin Woodlands, you can’t be ho-hum about things,” Wickham explained. “You have to be willing to do the work and do it well. Ben has that enthusiasm and the willingness to do the job. He has a hard work ethic, and he was ready to accept the responsibilities of the position.”

Orendorff describes himself as a “very outdoorsy guy,” which is why he feels so at home at Nemacolin. He also enjoys the customer focus aspect of his job.

“Recreation is all about customers,” Orendorff explained. “When I join the groups on the paintball field, I get to create a bond with strangers. That’s something that you just can’t get in an office.”

It is his display of initiative that will drive Orendorff to bigger and better things at Nemacolin.

“Ben has done a great job at staying focused, and he is always willing to try new things,” Grobe said. “I believe if he sets his goals high enough, he will take over my position some day.”