Ryan Franks, Fishing for Opportunities
Ryan Franks likes to fish. With an eventual degree in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management and a background in commercial recreation management and outdoor leadership, Ryan hopes to combine those skills and experiences in a career that keeps him outdoor.
Ryan is a senior at Penn State majoring in RPTM and completing his internship Fall semester 2023 with Penn State’s Campus Recreation program at Stone Valley Recreation Area. After completing his pre-internship 300 hours with Campus Recreation, Ryan accepted the role of Intern/Student Supervisor with Campus Recreation and is part of the team that assists with cabin and equipment rentals and support for recreation and leisure experiences for visitors to Stone Valley. According to Penn State's website, “Stone Valley features the 72-acre Lake Perez for fishing and boating, a picnic area, over 20 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Seasonal cabin and pavilion rentals, a challenge course, and lodge for group programs and functions make Stoney Valley a premier outdoor facility.”
“My favorite part of my role at Stone Valley is interacting with customers,” said Ryan. “Having the opportunity to introduce outdoor activities like kayaking and canoeing allows me to share my love and passion for the outdoors. I really enjoy working with the international visitors who come out. Seeing them experience what we offer for the first time is really exciting.”
Ryan is also getting the opportunity to shadow the management team at Stone Valley as well as the team with Penn State’s Outdoor Adventures. He is learning about management tasks such as scheduling and maintenance and developing policies and procedures for a large recreation area. The recent merger of Campus Recreation with Outdoor Adventures, under the umbrella of Penn State Student Affairs, means more learning opportunities. Ryan is excited to learn more about the outdoor adventure space including the Alpine Tower, high ropes initiatives, and rock wall. Newly-hired RPTM alum Lynde Metzler will be a part of the team that mentors students and interns at Stone Valley.
Originally from State College, Ryan and remembers going to Lake Perez at Stone Valley as a kid to fish. His path to Penn State and RPTM wasn’t initially focused on a career in the outdoors. “I played lacrosse in high school and it was really my focus. I looked at schools to continue with lacrosse, but realized it wasn’t my passion anymore. I came to Penn State not sure what I wanted to do. My older brother had majored in business so that interested me. My Dad helped me find RPTM. I was excited to learn I could combine a business focus with a career in the outdoors.”
As a full-time student, Ryan worked at both Campus Recreation and at TCO Fly Shop in State College. Ryan supported TCO fly shop customers with equipment and retail sales and support of the organized flyfishing trips and programs offered by the company. Ryan has also been a member of Penn State’s Flyfishing club, although noted that the COVID shutdown created challenges for the group.
Ryan will graduate with a degree in RPTM in the commercial recreation option in December, pending completion of his internship. He just recently accepted a position with HomeWaters Club in Spruce Creek, PA for post-graduation! He will be learning the ins-and-outs of the operations as their assistant manager.
Ryan’s advice to incoming students is to get involved – in recreation. “Explore the areas around Penn State. There is so much to do around here. Biking. Fishing. Hiking. Trail running. Make connections beyond employment.” As Ryan Franks is demonstrating, a degree in RPTM can bring together a career with a passion for the outdoors.