Dr. Tiffany Richardson: MVP of Sustainability Thanks to MLB All-Star Course

Dr. Tiffany Richardson (Middle of front row) poses with the Green Team 2015 while the Twins have batting practice before a game.

Dr. Richardson (middle of front row) poses with the 2015 Green Team in Target Field while the Minnesota Twins have batting practice before a game.

Strategy is very important in the game of baseball, and there’s no one who understands that better than School of Kinesiology lecturer Tiffany Richardson, Ph.D. After a bit of creative thinking, innovation, and proper timing, Richardson, along with a team of working professionals and internal support from the College of Education and Human Development, designed a course for students who are interested in sustainability in sports. What can be more exciting than this? Students who take this course get to work the All-Star Game for Major League Baseball (MLB).

Forget about home runs. This course is a grand slam!

Just before the 2014 All-Star Game (ASG) held at Target Field in Minneapolis, Senior Director of Stadium Operations, Dave Horsman, approached Richardson asking if she had any students available to work the All-Star Green Team on behalf of MLB. Without hesitation, Richardson enthusiastically said, “yes,” prompting further conversation with Paul Hanlon, Director of Facilities Operations for MLB. Hanlon worked directly with Richardson and the University of Minnesota to figure out how to offer students an educational program that would provide on-site experience and a background in sustainability in the sports world while also keeping focus on MLB and its greening efforts over the past ten years.

Richardson, Hanlon, and the rest of the team knew the ultimate goal in creating this course had to be sparking students’ interests in sport sustainability: a growing field within the sports industry, and there’s no doubt that this course is achieving its goal.

“From last year’s 2014 ASG Green Team we have one [student] in the Sport Management class of 2015, Bradley Vogel, going on to the University of Wisconsin to start his Masters program in Environmental Management in Policy,” says Richardson. “We also have Sarah Denn, a Sport Management Minor and Carlson School of Management Junior headed to New York City to intern this summer with MLB in the same department the Green Team supports during the ASG. All exciting things for students to realize and be a part of!”

While taking this course, students are able to read articles and learn about the host venue’s sustainability efforts alongside a partner school, such as this year’s partner, the University of Cincinnati. However, students not only learn about all things eco-friendly and green, they also experience a variety of hands-on work in the field of sports sustainability. Leading up to and into the All-Star Game, students in this course participate in five on-site events throughout the week of the game. Students work with a mixture of customer service as well as their own efforts to educate the guests and fans who come to see the game on sustainability within the sport.

After the course’s first year of success here in Minnesota, Richardson was asked to travel to the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati with a new class. She was thrilled to say yes to returning along with three members of the original team who will help with logistics and to complete practicum hours for their sport management undergraduate degree. Richardson exclaims, “the 2014 ASG Green Team was amazing! I have no doubt that the 2015 ASG Green Team is going to be just as amazing, I can’t wait to get started!”

Preparing for a trip as extravagant as this this adds another layer of learning to the experience, not just for the students, but for Richardson as well. “I get the opportunity to know 32 students better than just in the classroom. I get to know their personalities,” Richardson boasts. Understanding that networking is an important skill that all future working professionals need, Richardson made sure that throughout this course students are able to meet people from all over Major League Baseball as well as guests from all around the world.

“This is a resume building class, not just a transcript class,” Richardson says. “I get to introduce [my students] to people in the industry and I get to help shape their futures just a little bit more.”

Thanks to Dr. Tiffany Richardson, this MLB All-Star course could be the exact opportunity a student needs to set his or her future into play.

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