UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – When Andrew Artz graduated from high school in 2006 he was getting by but decided that was not enough.
First, Artz began to focus on his health by taking his nutrition seriously and getting into better physical shape. Next, he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served as a combat engineer and completed two one-year tours in Iraq.
After serving in the military full-time for four years, Artz enrolled at Penn State and the Pennsylvania National Guard. With a growing interest in nutrition, he intended to study dietetics.
However, things took another twist for Artz.
He joined the Penn State Cycling Club and assisted with the planning of a bicycle stage race. That experience helped him discover that majoring in recreation, park and tourism management might be more up his alley.
“Recreation, park and tourism management is all about your planning, leadership and organization skills, and I love it,” Artz said. “Planning a race gives me an opportunity to go out into the community. It mixes business experience and entrepreneurial experience with my own interest in getting people active. It is really fun to see something where you started with nothing but bullet points and it developed into a two-day event.”
Now, as race director for the Penn State Cycling Club, Artz is leading plans for the first ever Nittany Stage Race, which will be held Aug. 1 and 2. The two-day event will also include the Pennsylvania Elite Women’s Road Race, a state championship.
The event will benefit the Bestwick Foundation, a nonprofit group founded by professional BMX rider Jamie Bestwick, which provides financial support to families, individuals and local organizations in the Centre County region who are facing health-related or financial hardships.
“This really could be your neighbor who is benefiting from this event,” Artz said. “The reason we went to the Bestwick Foundation is because they focus their help in Centre County.”
The races will be spectator-friendly and open to the public. Artz hopes it will turn into an annual community event.
For Artz, several courses have prepared him to plan this event, such as Introduction to Commercial Recreation and Tourism, RPTM 201; Marketing of Recreation Services, RPTM 410; and especially Programming in Recreation Services, RPTM 356.
“It's the type of class that is so time consuming but can teach you so much,” Artz said. “This class covers everything involved in event planning and includes hands-on experiences in budget planning, facility analysis, marketing and risk management. RPTM 356 is really the culmination of everything one learns in the major.”