The city of Austin, TX, has no doubt changed since 1968, the last time the National Intramural-Recreation Sports Association (NIRSA) held its annual conference and recreational sports exhibition in the Lone Star State capital. The explosion of the Austin music scene since then has turned this year's location for the NIRSA conference into a must-see-and-hear destination for young people.

More than 2,000 attendees and 130 exhibitors are expected at the NIRSA conference and expo, which takes place April 2-5 at the Austin Convention Center. In addition to educational sessions, guest speakers, and the latest equipment and sporting goods displayed on the show floor, the conference features a distinct Texas flavor of food and music.

Adventurous attendees can take advantage of one of three pre-conference trips on Wednesday, April 2: kayaking the San Marcos River, rock climbing the Austin Greenbelt or taking a tour of Austin's barbecue restaurants. Also that day, the annual NIRSA Foundation golf tournament will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Jimmy Clay Golf Club and Roy Kizer Golf Course.

The Taste of Texas welcome social, featuring Texas-style food and live music by Seth Walker, begins at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 2, at the Hilton Austin. The Live Music Capital of the World After Party will follow at 8 p.m. at Buffalo Billiards on Austin's historic Sixth Street, where the country rock band The Mother Truckers will perform.

NIRSA City Limits takes place at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 3, in the newly renovated Austin Music Hall. Gary P. Nunn as well as the new wave 1980s band The Spazmatics will perform there. Also that night, beginning at 7:30 p.m., attendees will have access to the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum and exclusive use of its IMAX Theater, which will show the movies “Dolphins and Whales” and “Grand Canyon Adventures-3D.”

As much fun as these events promise to be, the conference won't be all about music and socializing. Keynote speaker Joe Martin will deliver his address at the opening general session from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 2, at the Austin Convention Center. Martin is the president and founder of RealWorld University, the largest college student success Web site in the country. He has been recognized nationally as America's No. 1 motivator of educators and was voted America's Campus Speaker of the Year by the Association for Programming Campus Activities. Martin started his first successful business at the age of 22, became the youngest professor to teach at an accredited university in the state of Florida at 24, and owned and operated a successful special events/public relations agency at 26.

Other speakers at the NIRSA conference include: Karl Brooks, the director of the DePaul University Student Leadership Institute; Cannie Campbell, the director of the University Health Center at James Madison University; Susan Fee, a licensed professional counselor based in Cleveland; David L. Herbert, an Ohio attorney with a long history of involvement with the sports, recreation, sports medicine, fitness and health care industries; William G. Herbert, a professor in the department of human nutrition, foods and exercise at Virginia Tech and a fellow in the American College of Sports Medicine; Patti Holmes, president of Holmes Training and Development and the author of “What Do Followers Expect of Leaders?”; Richard P. Keeling, who leads Keeling & Associates, a strategic consulting practice in higher education; and Larry Roper, the vice provost for student affairs, professor of ethnic studies and interim dean of liberal arts at Oregon State University.

New to the NIRSA conference this year are a series of four, two-hour workshops on the topics of technology, research, outdoor recreation, and small colleges and community colleges. The workshops are offered at no additional charge to show attendees.

Additional events and opportunities for attendees include walking the trade show floor at the Austin Convention Center, early morning workouts in the expo hall, the T-shirt exchange and the NIRSA Foundation Career Opportunities Center at the Hilton Austin.

Also taking place at the Hilton Austin is the People of Color social on April 3 and the honor awards banquet on April 5. (See the schedule of events for times and locations.)

By then, attendees' taste buds and “earbuds” should be plenty satisfied.

For a complete listing of exhibitors, go to: http://www.nirsa.org/conference/2008/exhibitor_home.aspx

Schedule of Events
(As of Feb. 14, 2008)
Wednesday, April 2
8 a.m. - 3 p.m. NIRSA Foundation golf tournament
8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. Pre-conference workshops
Noon - 3:30 p.m. NIRSA Foundation career opportunities center
4 p.m. - 6 p.m. Opening general session, featuring keynote speaker Joe Martin
6 p.m. - 7 p.m. New member welcome, Hilton Austin
6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Taste of Texas welcome social, Hilton Austin
8 p.m. - 2 a.m. Live Music Capital of the World after party, Buffalo Billiards
Thursday, April 3
8 a.m. - 5 p.m. NIRSA Foundation career opportunities center
8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Budget review session
8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Educational sessions
8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Outdoor workshop
9:45 a.m. - 11 a.m. Educational sessions
11:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Educational sessions
11:15 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. Small college workshops
12:45 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. New committee chair meeting
2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Educational sessions
2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Research workshop
3:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. Recreational sports exposition grand opening
5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Dinner in the expo hall
6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. People of color social, Hilton Austin
7:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. Night at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
8 p.m. - 2 a.m. NIRSA City Limits, Austin Music Hall
Friday, April 4
6:30 a.m. - 8 a.m. Expo workout
7:45 a.m. - 8:45 a.m. NIRSA Foundation career opportunities center
8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Educational sessions
9 a.m. - 11 a.m. Student business meeting
9:45 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. Educational sessions
10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Recreational sports exposition final day
11 a.m. - 3 p.m. NIRSA Foundation career opportunities center
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Educational sessions
12:30 p.m. - 2 p.m. Past presidents lunch
12:30 p.m. - 2 p.m. Lunch in the expo hall
12:45 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. New committee meetings
1:15 p.m. - 2 p.m. T-shirt exchange in the expo hall
1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Technology workshop
2:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Educational sessions
4 p.m. - 6 p.m. Regional business meetings
6:30 p.m. Independent socials
Saturday, April 5
8 a.m. - 9 a.m. NIRSA Foundation career opportunities center
8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Educational sessions
10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Annual business meeting (check-in begins at 9:30 a.m.)
11:30 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. Take a student to lunch
11:45 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. NIRSA Foundation career opportunities center
1:15 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Educational sessions
2:45 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. Educational sessions
5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Honor awards banquet, Hilton Austin