Student Planning Association @ ASU wins ASU Pitchfork Award

ASU’s Pitchfork awards recognize “distinguished devils” – ASU students with outstanding accomplishments.  At the third annual awards ceremony, held April 3 at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix, leaders of the Student Planning Association @ ASU (SPA) learned that the group had been selected as the year’s Outstanding Graduate Student Organization.

The award marked a milestone year for SPA, which grew from a marginally active organization in early spring 2013 to one of the largest organizations on campus – with over 100 members – a year later.  Along with growing their membership, the organization became ASU’s first organization registered as a planning student organization with the American Planning Association.

In the 2013-2014 year, the group was extremely active. Here are some of their activities:

  • Mentorship program: SPA worked with the Arizona Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-AZ) to revive the APA-AZ Mentorship Program.  The program now has 25 professional mentors and over 45 students
  • Fall Internship Symposium:  As part of the orientation program for new MUEP students, SPA presented a symposium on internships, and set up a buddy program, pairing new MUEP students with second-year students
  • Collaboration with Students for the New Urbanism (SNU): Collaborated with the ASU chapter of SNU on many events, including carring out the Park(ing) Day event on Mill Avenue.
  • Office visits:  SPA organized 5 visits to Phoenix-area planning offices, including Valley Metro, Edge Industries, the City of Tempe and Maricopa Association of Governments
  • Workshops: The group hosted 6 on-campus workshops led by planning professionals, on topics ranging from “Land Use and Zoning 101”to “Preparing for the AICP Exam”
  • Field trips: SPA organized several trips, to locations such as Arcosanti and Taliesin West
  • Volunteering:  SPA provided volunteers to events sponsored by APA-AZ and the School of Geographical Sciences & Urban Planning (SGSUP), including the APA-AZ Healthy Communities Conference, and SGSUP’s Night of the Open Door booth and Planning Career Fair

Looking forward, Dan Barusch, president of SPA in 2013-2014, graduated in May, but is working with APA-AZ to establish an Arizona Young Planners Group (YPG). The Arizona group will join over 25 groups in other states, which offer social events, networking and technical discussions to emerging planning professionals and students.  Barusch expects that the Young Planners group will work closely with SPA, providing students with still more opportunities and connections with the professional planning community.