By Katie Helms, Lona Leck, Leeann Lower, Samantha Wallace, and Nazifa Islam

Over 2,600 attendees and 650 exhibitor representatives had a fantastic time building “A Strong Core, A Bright Future” in Kissimmee, Florida at the 67th  NIRSA Annual Conference & Recreational Sports Expo. NIRSA members came together from all around the world from April 3–6 for what 2015–2016 NIRSA President Stan Shingles calls “the NIRSA family reunion.” Members had a chance to learn, network, and socialize together—we truly had a wonderful time in Florida!

This year, thirteen NIRSA 2016 attendees volunteered to take part in a new “I write for NIRSA” conference campaign. This campaign aims to bring more personal looks at various conference events to all Association members, whether you were able to attend NIRSA 2016 or are considering what you might find at NIRSA 2017.

Did you miss out on visiting the Career Opportunity Center this year? Don’t worry, Samantha Wallace—Coordinator for Youth and Activity Programming at the University of Arizona—writes all about her experience at the 2016 COC. Curious about what Take a Student to Lunch/Meet a Mentee for Life is like? Get ready to learn all about how this premier networking opportunity went for three different NIRSA members!

So read all about the 2016 NIRSA Annual Conference & Recreational Sports Expo—even if you were there, this is your chance to see it in an entirely new light!

Incredible professional development

Educational sessions and roundtable discussions at NIRSA 2016 were led by experts in their fields and covered a diverse array of topics from digital technology to facilities to emerging trends in wellness. The conference truly offered something for everyone. While there’s nothing like attending an ed session, NIRSA members can now find presentation materials from the conference online in the conference resources library.

You can also get a glimpse of what attending an ed session is like thanks to Lona Leck, Assistant Director of Recreation and Wellness at Bowling Green State University. For Lona, the NIRSA Annual Conference is a perfect opportunity to recharge for the upcoming school year. She loves reconnecting with alumni and seeing how former student employees are thriving. She knows that networking and learning from others can help create new ideas, and found attending two ed session at NIRSA 2016—both led by Ed Cabellon—particularly rewarding. Find out what she took away from them!

And if you’re curious about what attending a roundtable is like, look no further. Leeann Lower, Assistant Professor of Sport Administration at Ball State University, joined the “I write for NIRSA” conference campaign to brings you updates from the Research and Assessment Roundtable.

Poster presentations were yet another way to learn about something new at NIRSA 2016. Katie Helms is back to share her experience looking at one outstanding poster presentation!

For students looking for graduate assistantships and jobs and employers looking for candidates, there was no better place to go than the 2016 Career Opportunity Center. The COC is a space for registered employers and candidates to network via mailboxes, for presentations on specific employment opportunities, and for onsite interviews. It was the best opportunity employers and candidates had to connect at NIRSA 2016! Samantha Wallace is back to talk about her time volunteering at the 2016 COC.

Looking forward to National Harbor

We hope this year’s “I write for NIRSA” conference campaign has reminded you of how wonderful your time in Kissimmee was and made you look forward to another fantastic conference in National Harbor, Maryland in 2017. In National Harbor, there will be even more amazing educational sessions, inspiring speakers, a great Expo Hall, and so many fun networking opportunities!

Consider joining the ongoing “I write for NIRSA” campaign—lend your voice to the Association and gain professional development by writing feature articles for the NIRSA News. This is a fantastic opportunity to bring your unique perspective to all Association members. We would love to hear from you! If you’re interested in writing for NIRSA, please contact NIRSA Communications Coordinator Nazifa Islam.

Members can relive some fantastic NIRSA 2016 memories by checking out the NIRSA Facebook page, and the @nirsalive Instagram and Twitter feeds; a search for the #NIRSA2016 hashtag will bring up great moments from Kissimmee. Photos taken by Steven Miller, NIRSA’s official conference photographer, will be available in a matter of weeks—keep an eye on the NIRSA News for that announcement!

The Gaylord Palms was the perfect place to reconnect with friends and colleagues, to reaffirm our commitment to our strategic values, to strengthen our core competencies, and to support the important work NIRSA members are doing every day in the collegiate recreation field. We had a wonderful time building “A Strong Core, A Bright Future” with our NIRSA family and cannot wait to see everyone again next February in National Harbor for NIRSA 2017!

If you have questions or comments about NIRSA 2016 or NIRSA 2017, please contact NIRSA Director of Professional Development Kristen Gleason.