BARST degree offers students the best of many worlds

Diverse course options and opportunities for real-world experience prepare KSR graduates for a variety of potential careers

Danica Erickson - 07 February 2024

Bachelor of arts in recreation, sport and tourism (BARST) degree students Amber Cleasby and Colton Meronyk are in the same program, but their career aspirations are very different. One pictures herself working in sustainable tourism, while the other envisions himself in a recreation advisory-management role.

That’s the beauty of BARST. A degree with four program options offered by the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation (KSR), BARST’s liberal arts approach makes it an ideal degree for almost any individual with educational and career aspirations in the recreation, sport or tourism sectors.

Despite their different education journeys and career goals, Cleasby and Meronyk will both graduate in 2024 with equal determination to make a positive contribution to the world. Here’s how these two BARST students, each of whom took a different route to the program, are happily pursuing their individual interests and career goals.


 The adventurer

Amber Cleasby

Cleasby, a professional photographer, avid traveller and youth soccer coach, admits to being older than most of her fellow students. Following a year off after high school, she considered BARST but elected to go in a different direction. After running her own business, she began to think about making a career change. The chance to blend her love of travel, sport and creativity with her work led her back to the BARST program. 

While her marketing for recreation, sport and tourism and philosophy of leisure classes made a big impression on her, it was the issues in tourism (RLS 463) course, taught by Elizabeth Halpenny, that Cleasby describes as a life-altering experience.  

In the winter term of 2023, Halpenny offered Cleasby’s small RLS 463 class two options for the delivery of the course: attend lectures in the classroom or take part in the Purposeful Travel Summit, an annual tourism education event focused on sustainable travel, and write a paper about a topic from the conference to be read and discussed in class. Unsurprisingly, the class chose to attend the summit. 

Cleasby was inspired by what she learned at the summit, particularly the information about sustainability in travel and tourism. When it came time to find a practicum, she jumped at the opportunity to work with Leave No Trace Canada, an organization promoting responsible outdoor recreation through education and partnerships. “I’m really excited about it because it actually flows really well with the kind of career I would love to have,” she says. “And they’re going to help me get my training so I can train others. My passion has become a sustainable view of outdoors and travel.”



 The community builder

Colton Meronyk

For Meronyk, BARST was the perfect fit. He describes himself as someone who was always a competitive athlete and spent much of his life surrounded by recreation, sport and tourism. “Studying in BARST was a longtime goal,” he says.

He particularly appreciates the range of topics covered in the curriculum. “I just love how BARST is so diverse. It gives an abundance of learning opportunities, including both practical and lab experience.” The course he found most impactful was leisure and human behaviour, which focuses on the leisure experiences of individuals, groups and cultures.  

Meronyk was also a student in the class that attended the Purposeful Travel Summit and subsequently chose to do his course project, which involved taking on the role of a consultant charged with identifying ways to improve tourism sustainability. He chose to address the housing crisis in the town of Banff. He also shared what he learned with the board of the Alberta Recreation and Parks Association, for which he is a student representative. 

Although he hasn’t decided on his practicum yet, Meronyk knows he wants to work with an organization such as Alberta’s Ministry of Tourism & Sport or Strathcona County, that will let him further develop his recreation planning and management skills.

“I believe taking part in a practicum will give me valuable practical experience to transition into a full-time career. For BARST students like me who are very hands-on by nature, a practicum program gives experience you won’t necessarily get with studies alone,” he says.

Reflecting on their experience as BARST students and looking forward as future recreation professionals, Cleasby and Meronyk are excited about the next steps in their journeys. What advice do they have for those who are considering a BARST journey of their own?  

“Get involved and have fun. It will be the most fun and rewarding years of your life,” says Meronyk. “I’ve been able to get involved in numerous leadership positions with groups on campus. There will also be hard times, but never give up. Everybody has their own timeline.” 

“If you love being outside, you’re passionate about any kind of recreation, tourism and sport and you want to make a difference, this program is for you,” adds Cleasby. “It is what you make it. If you give 100 per cent in your classes and in your research, then you’ll get 100 per cent back. If you’re ready, then do it. It’s worth it.”