Alumni Profile: Stephanie Jones

Stephanie (Batchelder) Jones enrolled at Henderson in 2009 to play volleyball. Coming from Chico, California, it didn’t take long for Jones to “fall in love” with Arkadelphia’s “small town feel” and sense of community.

Jones said Henderson faculty played a pivotal role in her choosing to major in recreation-leisure services.

“I knew I would be choosing a career that I could enjoy 20 years from now,” she said. “We are always adapting and changing to the surrounding environment in our field. There is never a dull moment in parks and recreation.”

Jones earned her B.S. in recreation-leisure services in 2011 and her M.S. in sport administration in 2012. She was hired by the City of Bryant as parks programmer, then became recreation supervisor for the City of Benton. She was named Benton’s Employee of the Year in 2015, was honored as Young Professional of the Year by the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association in 2016, and also accepted the 2016 award for Program of the Year.

Within the past three years, Jones has implemented and expanded all youth and adult programming for Benton. The programs include youth and adult tennis, youth track, youth softball, men’s basketball, family art classes, family gardening classes, Movies in the Park series, Pumpkins in the Park, March Madness, father-daughter and mother-son dances, and Santa in the Park.

“We strive to provide and maintain quality parks and green spaces, as well as offer enriching recreation activities to the citizens,” Jones said. “These services enhance residents’ health and well-being and promote economic vitality for long-term community sustainability.

“We accomplish this through creative leadership, environmentally sustainable practices, and the responsible use of available resources.”

Jones said her degree from Henderson have been “extremely beneficial” in her career progression.

“I have been able to take what I have learned and integrate that within the work place,” she said. “I was very shy in college, and during my senior year I really blossomed. I have been able to use my communication tools to get out into the community, network, and that has been very beneficial in my line of work.”

Jones said Henderson’s leisure services program provides multiple career paths, including theme parks, water parks, recreation departments and community centers.

“You have the opportunity to work inside or outside and not be tied to a desk all day,” she said. “The majority of what I do on a daily basis is serving the community’s patrons. It is very rewarding work and that is what I love about it.”

Connecting with the community and the opportunity to listen and implement programs that are accessible to everyone and contribute to a greater quality of life are what Jones enjoys most about her job.

“I love that my job allows me to make a difference in peoples’ lives and the community, and I also love being an onsite instructor for our youth programs,” she said. “The stress of the day is erased when you step onto the court with a child and you see the joy they get out of something as simple as playing tennis.”

Benton recently completed construction of a $49 million park complex, which includes a new Boys & Girls Club building, an aquatic center, rock climbing wall, basketball and volleyball courts, indoor track, fitness area and exercise equipment, and the new headquarters for the Benton Parks Department

“I was able to watch the building process from the ground up, which has been very rewarding,” Jones said.

• This alumni feature is part of an ongoing project featuring Henderson's outstanding undergraduate and graduate academic programs.