Professional Development School (PDS) is the longest-running 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, recreation, and conservation professionals the opportunity to experience high-quality education in a small, student-focused atmosphere. PDS is committed to providing 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. Furthermore, 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 skills 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 choice 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

2022 Theme:
Parks & Rec Mix Tape: The Soundtrack to Success

November 6-9, 2022

Eagle Ridge Resort
444 Eagle Ridge Drive
Galena, IL 61036

CLICK HERE to be directed to the PDS registration page. Early-bird registration is available May 3 - June 3, and the regular deadline is October 21, 2022. 

Social Media:
Keep up-to-date with PDS information and CLICK HERE to access the Professional Development School Facebook page.

The Illinois Park & Recreation Foundation invests in today’s leaders to attend professional development or continuing education opportunities. CLICK HERE to be directed to IPRF and learn how you can apply for a scholarship to attend IPRA's Professional Development School.


"PDS is by far my favorite conference that I attend. The content of the sessions has been extremely relevant to my position and have helped me develop my leadership skills. PDS is also one of the easiest places to network - the environment makes it conducive to talk with everyone in a fun and relaxing setting."

"I came in with high expectations, and they were exceeded. The worst part of PDS was having to leave."

"At PDS, I made connections that will help me develop personally and professionally. After this experience, I feel recharged and ready to take action steps to improve my leadership and communication."

"An amazing experience to learn about yourself, connect with other professionals, and make long-last friendships! Just perfect!!"

"PDS was a great experience this year, and exceeding my expectations. I enjoyed all of the sessions and the networking opportunities that were presented to me. It's by far my favorite educational offering from IPRA and I can't wait for next year!"