Each year the College of Applied Science and Technology inducts new members into the Academy of Achievement, an honor bestowed on graduates of the college who have demonstrated significant contributions to chosen profession/community, demonstrated commitment to Illinois State University post-graduation, and are no more than 20 years ISU post-graduate.

This year’s Academy of Achievement inductee was Laura Payne ’89, M.S. ’92. Payne joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2001. She is an associate professor in the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism, an extension specialist, and a member of the Office of Recreation and Park Resources at UIUC.

[alert style=”red”]KNR Point of pride: KNR faculty made 29 refereed presentations last year.[/alert]

She has a bachelor of science degree in communications and a master of science degree in recreation administration from Illinois State University. Payne earned a doctorate in leisure studies with a minor in gerontology from Pennsylvania State University in 1998. She also has extensive work experience in several areas of the field such as community recreation, tourism, and nonprofit association management.

As an extension specialist, Payne’s overall goal is to improve the health and well-being of rural Illinois residents through education and training in local park and recreation planning that results in the delivery of quality and sustainable (i.e., financial, operations) recreation, parks, and wellness programs/services. As such, she has directed several statewide outreach and research programs such as the Illinois Rural Recreation Development Project, Illinois Senior Wellness Initiative, and Take Charge of Your Health: Live Well be Well. Her work has been supported by the State of Illinois Division of Human Services, Illinois Department of Public Health, United States Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In terms of research, she examines the effects of leisure behavior on aspects health and well-being (e.g., psychosocial, physiological) among older adults. She also examines the role of recreation, parks, and leisure services in community development. More specifically, she examines the relationship between leisure style and health of older adults with chronic conditions; the role of local parks and recreation agencies in the promotion and maintenance of health; and the relationship between nature-based leisure experiences and health. She is the lead editor of the first book on leisure, health and wellness, which was published in 2010 and included 41 chapters written by pairs of authors bridging the fields of recreation and public health.

Payne has taught courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels in areas such as leadership/group dynamics, recreation programming, leisure service administration, leisure and aging, leisure and health, critical issues in recreation, sport and tourism, and leisure and human development. Payne is also involved in academic affairs in a variety of ways such as membership on the undergraduate subcommittee for student discipline; she serves as a senator for the UIUC Academic Senate, and is a mentor in the I-Promise program.

The School of Kinesiology and Recreation congratulates Payne on this wonderful achievement!