The recreation, parks and tourism administration program at Cal Poly recently joined The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), a group that aims to conserve the environment by encouraging travel to natural areas.

As a member of TIES, Cal Poly is now one of five universities nationwide to offer the University Consortium Field Certificate (UCFC) to students.

Recreation, parks and tourism administration professor Jerusha Greenwood said the certificate program is beneficial for graduates because it gets students in the door as they pursue careers in the tourism field.

“It provides Cal Poly students with an opportunity to get connected with the ecotourism industry,” Greenwood said.

Other universities that offer the certification are North Carolina State, Pennsylvania State, Florida and West Virginia.

The program complements Cal Poly’s curriculum with its emphasis on sustainability, Greenwood said.

Currently, there are no Cal Poly students involved with the certificate program. Recreation junior Kelly Thurow said she is now considering applying after a professor recommended it.

“If you are part of this association, professionals and employees look at people on this list first for hiring,” Thurow said. “It also supplies resources for sustainability.”

The UCFC program was created for participants to concentrate on ecotourism and sustainable tourism development within the major.

One requirement is that participants must take at least one international course abroad with a university consortium member.

Thurow plans to spend winter quarter in Australia, and will apply for the program by February if she decides that it will benefit her education and offer her additional opportunities.

Students pursuing the UCFC certificate also do on-campus coursework, attend at least one internationally focused seminar through TIES, and complete a 400-hour internship focused on ecotourism or sustainable tourism development.

Benefits for students include access to employers and research projects, internship and employment opportunities and hands-on skill development.

Thurow said sustainability is important to her and is something she has an interest in studying further.

“I think it’s great that even big companies are trying to be sustainable and green,” Thurow said.

TIES launched in 1990 and is the oldest and largest international ecotourism association in the world with the goals of globally uniting communities, conservation, sustainable travel and globally uniting communities.

Each year the society supports relief efforts, hosts conferences focused on ecotourism, or launches research and distance-learning courses.

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