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Rillito Park Foundation teams up with UA to create internship opportunities

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Marisa Favero | The Daily Wildcat The race of the day at Rillito Racetrack on Feb. 11 in Tucson, Ariz. was much the same as the 100m dash in track and field. The race featured maidens, which are horses that have never won a race before. The horses run up to speeds of 50 miles per hour.

The Rillito Park Foundation teamed up with the University of Arizona to offer 30 internship opportunities in a variety of specialities, from sports management to veterinary services.

Rillito Park is a regional park which hosts horse races, but Ed Ackerley, faculty member at the UA and ex officio board member of the Rillito Park Foundation, and Lee Dueringer, the interim director of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences career center, both emphasized the variety of internships available. 

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“Rillito Park itself is ... kind of like a small city,” Ackerley said, “So students can do anything from activities associated with the racing season, which would include veterinary and racing and event management and sport management, food and beverage service, security, hospitality.”

“People tend to think of Rillito as a horse race track, and it is," Dueringer said. "But it’s a whole lot more. They have Arizona’s largest farmer's market in Tucson at Rillito Park. So when you think of a system like that, who would apply for that? Well, applied science [majors] would. Consumer and family science [majors] who are working retail majors.”

“It really is a cornucopia of options for students to get involved, if they’re looking to do something different,” Ackerley added. 

This is not the first UA connection to the park – previous students from different departments have interned at the park. However, this is the first time students can receive college credit for their internships.

Ackerley worked with CALS Dean Shane Burgess to create a program that "would change the relationship in a way that students can actually get college credit now for the internships they have with the foundation,” Ackerley said. 

Ackerley added that students who worked at Rillito in the past would get paid but would not receive any college credit. Now they can get both.

“This [program] allows a student who is interested in things that would help their career get both,” he said. “They get paid, but they also get credit for their CALS degree, which is an important, significant step.”

To apply or see other job opportunities, Dueringer encouraged students to visit the CALS career center website.

“All of these positions are posted there,” Dueringer said. “The students apply either through us, or they get their information to us, their resume or they can apply directly to the Rillito Park Foundation.”

Dueringer noted that the start dates for each internship application varies, but four have already been posted. 

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There have been 36 applicants already, and Ackerley said they anticipate having around or over 100 total applicants in the future. 

“We love the enthusiasm, the excitement, the freshness that they bring to their job,” Ackerley said. “We’re looking for excited young people with enthusiasm and passion for their degree, and they want to come and show people what they’ve learned.” Ackerley also said that they are seeking applicants that have strong technological skill for social media and using devices. 

Students can apply through the CALS career center or directly to the Rillito Park Foundation, according to Dueringer. 


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