Taira Landavere is graduating with her masters from our online Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management (PRTSM) program. While pursuing her masters, she was also the director of marketing for Elkins-Randolph County Tourism, Convention and Visitors Bureau in Elkins, West Virginia. After graduation, she will continue her role there.
Additionally, Taira was recently awarded the PRTSM Online Masters Student of the Year from the College of Natural Resources and the Young Leader of the Year award from the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber.
How has the College of Natural Resources impacted you and prepared you for your future?
The College of Natural Resources has impacted my life in a considerable way. Pursuing a degree in parks, recreation, and tourism management has enabled me to truly find fulfillment in my career. The faculty and staff were extremely knowledgeable and the learning material correlated with exactly what I was doing in my current position. If I did not pursue this degree, I would have never been able to get the director of marketing position in tourism for my county.
What’s your favorite memory or class from your time at the College of Natural Resources? Why?
Wow! This one is a hard question because I thoroughly enjoyed all of my classes. I would say one of my favorite projects was being able to do research on the Elkins Parks and Recreation Commission summer program or writing a grant for the parks of Elkins. One of the reasons this was a favorite of mine is because my dad was the park director for the Elkins parks for 42 years. One of the main reasons I pursued this degree was to follow in his footsteps. My dad unexpectedly passed away in 2015. Most of the projects in the program talked about parks and recreation and when I had I to do research on the Elkins parks, I felt like I was learning more about who my dad was professional, what my dad did and how influential he was to the success of the park system in Elkins, West Virginia.
What is unique about your work?
As the director of marketing for Elkins-Randolph County Tourism, my work is fun, special, and unique. I get to promote my hometown and the surrounding area where I grew up as a child. My position started last year and I have been there from the very beginning of the organization. It has been awesome to experience and be a part of. My team and I have built a brand for Randolph County that is related with who we are as a place and it has taken off more than we could have imagined. I also love working with people and in this position, I get to work with organizations, individuals, businesses, residents, and tourists every day. I love hearing their stories about what brought them to explore, sleep, dine, and unwind in Randolph County. Without pursuing my Masters these opportunities would never have been possible.
What advice would you give students entering your major or field?
If you are a distant education student I would encourage you to go to the option orientation at the beginning of the school year. Meet your classmates and meet your professors, see the school, and experience it. I was really thankful that I decided to go to orientation because most of the people I have kept in contact with for the past 2 years will be graduating together and we have truly formed lasting friendships despite the distance.
If you have a dream, don’t let anyone discourage you from pursuing that dream. Dream big and go for it because it is definitely worth it when you accomplish it never thinking you could.
This post was originally published in College of Natural Resources News.