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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Students Working on Projects for VINE Adult Community Center

Efforts offered through Department of Recreation, Parks and Leisure Services course.

Brian Arola, Mankato Free Press, 4-11-2016

MANKATO — The Olympics may be in Brazil this summer, but students at Minnesota State University, Mankato are going for gold right here in Mankato with a themed event to help raise memberships and funds for projects at the VINE Adult Community Center.

This is just one of several projects in the works by Minnesota State Mankato students as part of a course designed to provide first-hand experience planning events and reaching out to the community.

The program planning course, part of the recreation, parks and leisure services department at the university, gives students a chance to come up with their own themed events for nonprofits or other community organizations.

In VINE’s case, student planner Briana Spicer and her team is hoping to draw in newcomers for membership at the 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday event.

“The ultimate goal is basically to promote the facility and being a member,” she said.

The Olympics theme was decided on as a way to show prospective newbies the full range of the VINE’s capabilities.

As attendees to the event make the rounds at VINE, they’ll earn raffle tickets that could lead to prizes. Walking around the track earns tickets, as does completing a quick workout.

The class is planning 11 other events in April, including those at YMCA, LEEP and Oak Terrace.

Instructor Brooke Burk said the course gets kids out of the classroom and into the community. Community partners, for their part, have been more than accommodating.

“They’re very open to giving students opportunities and they’ve been great about providing feedback and mentoring through the process,” she said.

Many of the student teams first found out about their organizations during presentations.

The planning process, however, inevitably gives them a robust introduction to off campus organizations. Meghan Velasquez, VINE’s director of guest experiences, said it’s been nice having the youth around considering her facility caters to the senior crowd.

“We have such different demographics than a college campus that it’s fun to get these kids in our doors and get exposure for the college, too,” she said.  

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories online at

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