Professional Development School (PDS) is the longest standing educational and networking opportunity offered by the Illinois Park and Recreation Association. The tradition of park and recreation professionals attending Professional Development School goes back to the 1980’s creating thousands of PDS graduates. Professional Development School provides park and recreation professionals the opportunity to experience high quality education in a small, student-focused atmosphere. PDS is committed to providing park and recreation professionals the skills, knowledge base and networking opportunities needed for personal development and career advancement so as to sustain and better the agency and community they serve. 

Graduation from Professional Development School consists of the completion of a two-year curriculum. Additionally, the school offers a unique graduate level annually that allows professionals the opportunity for continued development year after year. Do you directly supervise or does your agency have professionals who would benefit from two and a half days of intensified skill development, increased knowledge base and networking with fellow professionals in areas such as supervision, management, budget, motivation, teamwork, etiquette, communication, presentation skill and self-fulfillment? If the answer is yes, Professional Development School is the continuing education for you and your team.

Program Objectives

Year 1: LEARN – Instilling the backbone of the profession
Year 2: CONNECT – Understanding the professional you are
Graduate: INSPIRE – Motivating self-development and advancement in your career and agency

Applications are now being accepted from interested and motivated volunteers to serve a three-year term (2020-2022) on the PDS Board of Regents. The board consists of 12 professionals and will have two vacancies available after the completion of this year's event due to expiring terms. CLICK HERE  to access the application, which is due to PDS Chair Shay Remus at or Duane Smith at by Friday, November 1, 2019.

November 10-13, 2019

Eagle Ridge Resort
444 Eagle Ridge Drive
Galena, IL 61036

CLICK HERE  to view and download the 2019 brochure.

CLICK HERE to register for PDS 2019.


"It taught me quite a bit about management, leadership, and team building. I like that I was able to network with others in my same position. Hoping to keep those connections to help keep costs down on trainings by sharing the cost with different agencies."

"Provided great networking opportunity to assist with reaching out to others regarding similar programs/responsibilities. New Ideas."

"I made a number of great connections with other professionals that have and will continue to be helpful resources for my agency. For example, I am currently looking to fill a niche teaching position in my department, and someone from my homeroom was able to provide a very promising contact. I will also share educational information with my staff and co-workers in an effort to pass on what I learned at PDS."

"I received refreshing insights from the curriculum. The long, in depth sessions allow for more meaningful interactions, reactions and team work than the typical shorter sessions offered at conferences."

"I wanted to grow as a leader and individual. By partaking in PDS I feel like I have the tools to do this."