Careers and Alumni Spotlight


The skills you develop with a Geography, Planning and Recreation degree at NAU can help you find a career that gets you outdoors, in the lab, or into the community, studying the earth and helping planners.

Working for the government

Most careers in geography, planning, and recreation involve working for the government.  Find out if a job in the federal government is right for you.
  1. Best Places to Work : feedback from more than 221,000 civil servants in the annual Best Places to Work in the Federal Government ranking of 283 federal agencies and subcomponents. 
  2. Making the Difference : a website for college students and recent graduates interested in federal employment and internships. 
  3. Where the Jobs Are : check out a list of federal hiring projections for the next two years.

Government Agencies

US Geological Survey
Arizona State Land Department
US Department of Housing and Urban Development
US Department of Transportation
US Forest Service
Bureau of Land Management  

Alumni Spotlights

“I carved out my path in the outdoor world with an amazing degree in Park and Recreation as well as a solid background in Forestry, but what was I going to do next? For those people that know me very well, they are aware of my broad interests and multiple passions in life. I wanted to be the girl that sang for a living and also took people on backpacking trips through amazing destinations. And here I am, 5 years later... I can happily say that I have made that my reality. My rough timeline since I left college looks like this: I joined a reality TV show, American Idol right after graduation, after I was cut from the show I moved to San Diego with my band. I landed a job as an Environmental Consultant with a company called Western Environmental Consultants and worked there for a year and a half. Eventually I grew to miss Arizona very much, so I applied for a position as a Backpacking Guide with Wildland Trekking Company working in the Grand Canyon and Havasupai and I have been working there seasonally ever since. Best part about Guiding is, it is seasonal so I am able to travel in my spare time, as well as work as an International Singer on the off season. To date, I have traveled to 21 different countries, most for leisure as well as a 3 month stint performing in Jakarta, Indonesia. Currently I am preparing to embark on an 8 month contract working as a singer for a cruise line in 21 different countries. To tie this all in together, I couldn't have done any of it without my degree. The PRM department at NAU taught me the essentials of leadership that apply not only to my job as a backpacking guide, but as well as a traveler and a performer. Before the program, I was no where near as confident in my navigation skills, as well as my survival skills. Not to mention, the best part about this degree is the versatility. I am able to apply my position to so many different careers, as well as shape a schedule that fits my life. At the end of the day, you get what you sign up for. I chose a degree in adventure and that's exactly what my life has been since I graduated!”
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Jared Raymond
Community Planner for the Federal Aviation Administration
BS in Public Planning with the emphasis on Environmental Planning

Jared Raymond graduated from NAU in May of 2002 with a BS in Public Planning with the emphasis on Environmental Planning. He is a Community Planner for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). He deals with current and long range development for general aviation and commercial service airports in Northern Arizona and Southern Nevada. Jared facilitates airport planning services for airport design and construction projects. He reviews and approves airport master plans, airspace, and land acquisition projects funded under grant-in-aid programs.  Additionally, Jared assisted in developing the National Plan of Integrated Airports System (NPIAS) and the FAA Airports Capital Improvement Program (ACIP). He manages and reviews grant proposals requiring FAA notification.
“The Planning Program has a lot of ‘real world’ experience from the professors,” said Jared. “Many of the classes at the Jr. and Sr. level were taught by planning professionals that worked at the Federal, County, and City level. They provided real study cases that were controversial and interesting, and talking and dealing with those planning professionals really impressed upon me the impact that land use planning has on a communities citizens now and for future generations.”
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Kevin Kennedy
MDP Field Supervisor for Arizona Conservation Corps
BS in Parks and Recreation Management (PRM) with an emphasis in Outdoor Education and Leadership

I graduated from NAU in May of 2015 with a B.S. in Parks and Recreation Management (PRM) and an emphasis in Outdoor Education and Leadership. During the semesters I worked as an auto mechanic at a few different shops in Flagstaff and over the summers I worked for Arizona Conservation Corps (AZCC), formerly known as Coconino Rural Environment Corps (CREC). I started with CREC in 2012 as a Corps member, and the same for the summer of 2013, fulfilling my PRM Practicum. In the summer of 2014 I lead a crew of nine high school age members building trails, fences, and thinning the forest in the Flagstaff region. And then, in January 2015, I came back to AZCC on a chainsaw crew and fulfilled my PRM Internship. I have been at AZCC since, where I currently supervise the Mentor Development Program. Essentially, I supervise a trail crew in the Superstition Wilderness within Tonto National Forest. This requires that I facilitate lessons on leadership among many other topics needed to coach my Corps members into good leaders for our youth crews. We operate an 8-day on 6-day off schedule and camp in the backcountry and work 10.5 hour days.

It’s an awesome & rewarding job and has helped to shape the best version of myself that I have yet to see. AZCC has also provided me the chance to work all over Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. If you like working outside and are looking to find something that fulfills the practicum courses check out AZCC. Another benefit is that AZCC is an Americorps program, which means you get an education scholarship at the end of your term. Check out the website and get in touch! We have Corps crews year round.

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Matt Kessler
Assistant Planner with the City of Sedona
BS Geographic Science and Community Planning with an emphasis in Community Planning

Matt Kessler graduated with a B.S. Geographic Science and Community Planning with an emphasis in Community Planning in May of 2015. Since October of 2015, Matt works as an Assistant Planner with the City of Sedona. He works in both current and long range planning, reviewing building permits and development proposals, working with the public at the counter, and assisting staff on implementing the community plan goals through long term projects.

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I graduated from NAU in May 2000, with a Bachelor of Science in Parks and Recreation Management. My emphasis was outdoor education and leadership. I also worked closely with Pam Foti on numerous recreation ecology studies across Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. After working as a park ranger in Golden, CO for a couple of years, I returned to NAU for graduate school, earning a Master of Science in Forestry in May 2008.
I have been working as a Volunteer Program Associate at the Grand Canyon Trust since 2009. My experiences at NAU are perfectly suited to my current position, because my job combines scientific knowledge and fieldwork with outdoor leadership and education. I love working with people in the wild places of the Colorado Plateau, and I’ll always be thankful to my NAU mentors and colleagues for allowing me to explore and learn so much about the Grand Canyon and the southwestern US. We are lucky to live among an incredible and rich diversity of public lands, and I never tire of working for their protection and restoration. It all started with the NAU Parks and Recreation Management program!

Robert Gubser
Planning Manager for the City of Avondale
BS in Land Use and Environmental Planning

Robert Gubser graduated from NAU in 2001 with a degree in Land Use and Environmental Planning. He is currently the Planning Manager for the City of Avondale. Avondale is a city of approximately 79,000 residents and an overall planning boundary of 94 sq.miles, located approximately 10 miles west of downtown Phoenix. He leads a staff of five in processing all applications related to land use within the City. He also works very closely with the Engineering Division regarding making the city’s streets available to all modes of transportation and sustainable development practices. Robert works with the city’s Economic Development Department to bring new businesses into the City that align with the direction of the City Council goals and the goals and objectives of the City of Avondale General Plan 2030.  
“I use so much of what I learned at NAU on daily basis, from my classes in land use law, public participation, map and image interpretation, urban geography, and GIS,” Robert said. “My time that I spent at NAU undoubtedly prepared me for the career that I have today. I proudly display my diploma from NAU in my office.”
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