Patrick Wempe

Professor of Recreation and Faculty Athletic Representative

We are all different. The types of recreational and leisure activities we choose to engage in will spark our own spirit and our own desires. We teach our students to show people how to find those pursuits.

When he was in the service, Patrick Wempe broke his hip and was hospitalized for more than four months. A recreational therapist who worked with Wempe helped him recover and made a lasting impression.

After leaving the military, Wempe went to work for the Veterans Administration as a recreational therapist specializing in drug and alcohol counseling and posttraumatic stress. He used adventure therapy to help his patients by utilizing recreational activities such as mountain climbing and rappelling.

When he started working at the VA, he had no aspirations to teach. Then Wempe realized that he was, in fact, already teaching within a group and clinical setting. He soon earned his master’s degree and became a certified teacher. He later earned his doctorate.

As a professor of recreation at Henderson State, Wempe leads his students down one of three different recreation degree tracks: leisure service management; national recreation resource management; and sports management.

Right now, the job market for recreation majors is “very good,” Wempe said. “But you must be willing to market yourself and put in the work to go out and get that job.”

Recreation covers a broad spectrum, Wempe said. “In leisure services, you may work for a boys & girls club, YMCA or a municipal parks and recreation department,” he said. “National recreation resource management may include working for the National Park Service, state parks or Corps of Engineers, while sports management could include jobs with sports facilities or talent agencies.”

Recreation and leisure benefits everyone, and Wempe stresses their importance for each person’s lifestyle and wellbeing.

“Spend time with family, do a craft, a hobby. What you like to do in your free time is your leisure pursuit,” he said. “That’s what we’re teaching people about. You have to have that enjoyment.”

“Say you take a young child to the state park. You might think it went miserably, but that is a memory the child will never forget,” Wempe said. “It had, in a lot of senses, nothing to do with what they did while they were there, but it was that they were there with their mom or dad. And they’ll always remember that.

Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Athletic Training

Contact Info:

Degree and School:
EdD, University of South Dakota

Inclusive Recreation
Special Events and Promotions
Marketing and Financing of Sports
Leisure Attitudes
Corporate Wellness Advocacy
Playground Safety
Student Athlete Academic Success

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