Alumni Q&A: How two Recreation and Parks Leadership Studies grads are creating space for fun

Dan Lee ‘12 and Martie Kaus ‘08 started Circle the Earth Recreation Organization (CERO) to bring worldly views to Greater Mankato—and bring attention to the connection between mental health and recreation

October 30, 2023 |

Dan Lee and Martie Kaus

Dan Lee, '12 and Martie Kaus, '08 


What inspired Circle the Earth Recreation Organization (CERO)?

Dan: I wanted to take recreational experiences that I enjoy and help create new opportunities for others—the feeling is too good to not share. So I said, ‘why not create something for the community?’

Martie: I always wanted to do something that made a difference for the community while using my degree. Dan’s ideas and concepts aligned with mine, so it was a really good fit for us to move forward together. We love bringing our community together in unique ways and offering activities for all ages and abilities.

How does leadership around parks and recreation impact the health and wellness of individuals and communities?

Dan: Health and wellness blossom in communities that embrace recreation. For example, Bentonville, Arkansas, flourishes because of mountain bikes and trail systems; mountain towns with great skiing create opportunities for play all through life—from kids and older adults. Bike trails, skate parks, concerts, art and camping are all opportunities to get outside. We have this locally but need to take it to the next level.

Martie: I think recreation and leisure are an incredibly important piece in a person’s overall mental and physical health which is why my emphasis was therapeutic recreation. With CERO, we understand that too, and that’s in the forefront of our minds when we come up with our plans.

What are some of your favorite memories of your time as a RPLS student?

Dan: Some of my favorite memories include doing hands-on classes outside with Rachelle or watching Dr. Joy Joyner get into the programs we planned. My time as a student helped me be persistent with tasks—every day in the real world it’s like getting new homework!

Martie: Hosting a wheelchair basketball game was super fun and an experience I’ll never forget. Adapting to various needs and inclusion is very important in what we are doing. My time as an RPLS student prepared me in many ways—from organizing to implementing our ideas.