In an effort to provide stronger industry education and networking opportunities, the National Recreation and Park Association has teamed with Human Kinetics and Aquatics International to present the 2010 National Aquatic Conference, scheduled for March 22-28 in Houston. The arrangement marks the beginning of what is expected to be a long-term relationship that will benefit the entire industry.

“We realized that by joining together we could do more for the industry than on our own,” said Tara Fitzpatrick-Navarro, director of education and research at NRPA, based in Ashburn, Va.

One of the central goals of the partnership is to expand the breadth of attendees beyond mainly just public aquatics facility operators, according to Fitzpatrick-Navarro. She also expects that working with Human Kinetics, Champaign, Ill., and Aquatics International, Los Angeles, will provide opportunities to attract new speakers and exhibitors.

Jill White agrees. “Our intent in getting involved is to supplement and enhance the foundation that’s

already in place,”said White, division director, Human Kinetics Aquatic and Emergency Care Education. “Given the importance of professional development and aquatic education, the limited resources people now have to travel, and the resources that one organization has to put on a good conference year after year, collaboration between organizations that have similar goals is paramount. There’s no other way to do it in today’s economic climate.”

This year’s conference will feature expanded networking opportunities and an extra day of exhibition. Additionally, the National Aquatic Management School program will run March 23-24.

As of press time Fitzpatrick-Navarro noted an increase in the number of exhibitors and attendees, and said that she expects 2010 will lead to even greater collaboration in the future.

“One thing we’ve been talking about is creating certification or certificate programs,” she said.