Ann James Award    

Ann James worked as a recreation therapist in several settings overseas and in the US, Ann completed her Ph.D. and began teaching at Clemson University in South Carolina in 1975. From her experiences working in isolated areas, Ann learned to appreciate and cherish opportunities to gather with colleagues at professional conferences where they could compare notes, update skills together, and commiserate about shared stressors.

Although TR conferences had been independently hosted by Florida State University (1980) and by the University of Georgia (1981), no coordinating body existed to oversee the perpetuation of an annual continuing education opportunity in southeastern US. In 1981 Ann invited practitioners and educators from the southeast to meet at the NRPA Congress in Minneapolis in order to form such a coordinating body. The group met the following summer at the TR Symposium in Clemson and formed the Board of Directors of the Southeast Therapeutic Recreation Symposium. Ann continued to work closely with the Symposium, serving as Board Chair for two years and presenting many educational sessions. She also served national TR interests as President of NTRS and a member of the Board of Directors of ATRA. Her research and writing contributed chapters to several TR texts and many articles to journals. Upon her retirement from the Board in 1993, Board members recognized her contributions to the leadership and literature of the profession, and primarily her love and enthusiasm for STRS, by establishing the Ann James Award, presented each year to the outstanding symposium presentation.

Method of Evaluation:

The Ann James Award is intended to recognize outstanding speakers from each year’s symposium. Named after one of the founding members of the STRS Board of Directors, the award is presented annually to the speaker(s) who represent(s) excellence in session content, design, delivery, and applicable impact to attendees needs. The session also must meet the following evaluative criteria: Session Criteria:

1. The session must include a minimum of ten attendees

2. The session may not be a repeat session for the symposium

3. The session will be based on the highest mean score from the respective year’s symposium participant evaluations

4. The session may not have a mean score of less than (3) on any item in the session evaluations

General Criteria:

The SRTS Awards Committee will determine the recipient of the Ann James Award based on the selection criteria. Keynote and paid speakers of the symposium are not eligible for the award

Selection Process:

1. The SRTS Awards Committee will notify the SRTS Chair and Board of the recipient(s).

2. A SRTS designee will make arrangements for the presentation of the award (i.e., secure correct speaker(s) demographics for award, speaker(s) notification and supplemental SRTS Board recognition).

3. The person(s) will be recognized during the following year’s symposium.


Gene Hayes Student Scholarship Award    

Gene, “Doc” Hayes, Ph.D, CTRS, FDRT began his illustrious career in 1960 after graduating from Fresno State College. After working in large state mental hospitals for 3 years Gene accepted a Comeback, Inc. scholarship to receive his MS degree from the University of North Carolina, studying under Harold Meyers and Doug Sessoms and worked at UNC Memorial Hospital in the Psychiatry Department. Gene traveled to Columbia University in New York City and studied with Richard Krause and Elliot Avedon on a Vocational Rehabilitation Grant.

Gene moved to Parsons, Kansas and worked in Parsons State Hospital and Training Center for children and youth with developmental disabilities for two years. After beginning his doctoral studies at Texas Woman’s University Gene completed his Ph.D. in education at North Texas University in 1972. He had short teaching stints at University of Iowa, Fresno State College, and the University of Waterloo in Canada, and Virginia Tech. Gene moved to the University of Tennessee in 1984 where he was a professor in the Department of Exercise, Sports and Leisure Studies until his retirement in 2011.

Gene’s philosophy has always been that we learn more through experiential education and in 1977 developed Camp Koininia, an outdoor and camping program for children with severe disabilities. Building on the success of Camp, Gene developed adapted camping programs for children with spina bifida, visual impairments, Down’s syndrome and for adults over age of 22 with disabilities.  In 1998 he developed a therapeutic recreation program in public schools through a grant from the state.   Over his career Gene has secured over 3 million dollars in federal and state funds and has successfully helped thousands of undergraduate and graduate students who have carried on Gene’s passion for therapeutic recreation.

General Criteria:

The SRTS Scholarship Committee will determine the recipient of the Gene Hayes Student Scholarship Award based on the selection criteria. This award is presented to an undergraduate student studying recreational therapy who has demonstrated excellence in one or more of the following areas:

  • Overall GPA & Major GPA
  • Extra-curricular activities related to recreational therapy
  • Membership/involvement in recreational therapy professional associations and/or clubs
  • Officer positions held in associations and/or clubs
  • Publications in recreational therapy or related health care journals, newsletter, etc.
  • Presentations made related to recreational therapy
  • Recreational therapy related conferences, symposiums, and work-shops attended


Ray West, M.S., LRT/CTRS, FDRT  has played a significant role in the development of the recreational therapy profession and mentored countless students and professionals over the course of his esteemed career. Ray received his Bachelor of Science from Lock Haven State College (1970) and Master of Science from The Pennsylvania State University (1979).   He served as chief recreational therapist for the Williamsport Hospital and Rehabilitation Center and instructor of therapeutic recreation at Penn State before becoming the Director of Recreational Therapy at UNC Hospitals where he guided the program for twenty five years before his 2005 retirement.

Ray is a founding member and served as the second president of the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA). He was a co-author of the ATRA Standards of Practice and throughout his career Ray consistently focused on professional preparation and was instrumental in advancing the profession of recreational therapy through his leadership and initiatives. Through Ray’s work as a board member for the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification, the Southeast Recreational Therapy Symposium, the National Academy of Recreational Therapists and the North Carolina Recreation Therapy Association he strived to promote and help prepare practitioners and students to become more competent. Promoting professional preparation and competencies was a keystone to Ray’s efforts and led to the formation of the Committee on Accreditation of Recreational Therapy Education (CARTE). The Ray West First-Year Practitioner Award is presented to a CTRS who is in the first year of practice and has demonstrated service to the profession and competency in practice.


In addition to being employed full or part time (minimum of 20 hours per week) in the field of recreational therapy, the Scholarship candidate has to actively be certified as a CTRS and licensed (as applicable). The candidate must provide demonstrated competencies in at least two of the following areas:

  • Utilization of evidence based practices in the delivery of services
  • Research and/or publications in recreational therapy or related health care journals, newsletter, etc.
  • Presentations made related to recreational therapy
  • Attendance at recreational therapy related conferences, symposiums, and work-shops
  • Membership/involvement in recreational therapy professional associations and/or clubs
  • Officer positions held in associations and/or clubs
  • Extra-curricular activities related to recreational therapy