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The NC Recre8'er - is the Blog for NC Recreation and Parks Professionals. We will feature posts from NCRPA members and staff about all the latest news, insights and tips in our field and around the state. Topics will include but are not limited to: Health and Wellness, Outdoor Recreation, Athletics, Advocacy, Aquatics, Therapeutic Recreation, Special Events, Marketing, Parks and Greenways, Cultural Resources and more! If you are interested in being a guest blogger please contact Matt at NCRPA or 919-832-5868. The opinions of The NC Recre8'er (NCRPA) blog contributors don't necessarily reflect the editorial position of North Carolina Recreation and Park Association as a whole.


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The #GimmeFive Challenge

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of National Nutrition Month, Let’s Move has announced the #GimmeFive challenge, encouraging families to come up with five new meals to help nourish their family and friends. Let’s Move is also using social media to spread the task by challenging communities to share their creations by using the hashtag #GimmeFive on social media outlets, such as: Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or Instagram.

So how can we become involved? Our challenge for you is to continue to encourage your department and community to take part in National Nutrition Month. You can start within your department and create a #GimmeFive competition among your staff members. Or even reach out to your community to take part in the #GimmeFive challenge for the last half of March.

Motivating our communities to take part of the #GimmeFive challenge is a perfect way to inspire new creations and nutritious meals. Ask individuals in your department or community to share their favorite meals and post it to social media to increase awareness, you can even create a recipe book of all the submissions! Remember to reach out to local farmers markets and vendors for recipe ideas and tips. USDA’s MyPlate is another resource providing tips and advice on the proper proportions of produce, protein, and low-fat dairy to include in recipes. Make sure to check out NCRPA’s Healthy Cooking and Nutrition Programs page for more ideas.

This month is full of great information and ideas. If you have any #GimmeFive program ideas, please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  #GimmeFive  Healthy Eating  Let's Move  Wellness 

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Creating Healthier Lives: National Nutrition Month

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, March 9, 2015

As we head into the second week of March, the signs of spring are finally appearing. Hopefully all of you have adjusted your clocks and enjoying the hour of extra sunlight in the evening.

Another important announcement, if you are not already aware, is that it is National Nutrition Month. During the month of March, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (ADA) focuses their attention on increasing awareness of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. The information provided will hopefully inspire year-round dedication to healthy habits and an improved lifestyle.

Let’s take this opportunity to teach our communities, departments and families’ easy ways they can start to make improvements to their nutrition that will lead a healthier lifestyle.

Here are some ideas:

·Use social media to send out daily recipes or exercise ideas to your community. Follow National Nutrition Month on the Academy’s social media channels, Facebook &Twitter, to gather more ideas and information.  Use #NNM hashtag if you send information via Twitter or Facebook.

·Encourage your department to share healthy recipes and exercise tips in updates, e-news or printed monthly newsletters. Reach out to local health professionals to create opportunities to inform your community on ways to develop sound eating and physical activity habits. Some great resources include the local cooperative extension, county health department or nutritionist from a local college to come and lead a staff training.

·Lastly, continue to motivate your department in making an effort to make physical activity a part of their daily routine. Some ideas include morning yoga, run groups, or daily walks, which will reduce the chance of chronic illnesses and increase energy levels throughout the day.  

I challenge all of you to take the lead and raise awareness for National Nutrition Month! Taking the steps to lead a healthier life can have positive results; some effects can include improving your mood, reducing stress, and increasing endurance and stamina. For more information please visit:

Also, good luck to the participants this weekend in the Tobacco Road Marathon & Half-Marathon, Cary, NC.  I’ll be one of many runners enjoying the scenery on the beautiful trails!

If you have any ideas for promoting National Nutrition Month within your community and department, please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  active lifestyle  healthy eating  national nutrition month  wellness 

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How Often Should we Post to Social Media?

Posted By Matthew Carusona, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, March 9, 2015

As parks and recreation professionals we are asked to fill many roles and be ready to change to better serve our communities at a moment’s notice. When it comes to marketing our parks, programs and events the scope of responsibilities can vary greatly. Sometimes our marketing and social media is coordinated by a dedicated marketing team, sometimes it’s a department director and other times it might be a programmer.  If you are managing your departments’ social you have a variety of things to think about; when to post, what to post, and sometimes even how to post.  Often these questions can be answered by asking our peers, reading various blogs and reviewing what industry leaders are doing.  At NCRPA I use Buffer to help me manage and coordinate our social content.  (Buffer is an app that helps you manage and monitor social media accounts.) In addition to being one of my favorite media management tools, Buffer does a good job of sharing research and tips on how to be a more proficient social media manager in an ever changing landscape.  To get you started, check out this great blog and infographic from Buffer on posting frequency.

Don’t forget that if you are looking to take your marketing and social media to the next level you can join NCRPA at the 2015 Marketing Summit on April 14th in Durham, NC.

Stay tuned to the NC’Recre8’er blog all this month and April for more tips and tricks for marketing as parks and recreation professionals! 



Tags:  Blogs  Facebook  Marketing  NCRPA  Parks  Programs  Recreation  Social Media  Tips  Twitter 

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"Run" Your Community

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, March 2, 2015

Good Morning,

Last Wednesday NCRPA was fortunate enough to have Scott Knox, from Morrisville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, provide us with information regarding run groups and training for a 5K race. Scott emphasized that greenway trails can be perfect for recreational and wellness use, but many are not aware of their existence, or their ease of access. Run/Walk groups are a perfect way to educate communities on their park’s system, as well as the importance of health and wellness. Scott went over key points, such as getting started, who to reach out to in your community, and other helpful information of organization run groups and 5K training.

The first goal is to establish a base of interest. Social media, flyers throughout the community, and reaching out to people who would be interested in participating is a perfect place to start. The idea is to cater to families and individuals to contribute to the diversity of the running group, which will allow to meet the needs of all types of runners! The next step is to each out to an organization or special interest group that have similar interests or objectives as what you have set for the group. The groups can consist of healthy food vendors, sport equipment stores, or other sponsor groups. It will be easier to promote the run group if your department has external organizations reaching out to the community as well.

Now, where do we start? The key is to pick a time and place that will best suit your participants. Once again, it is important to promote the run group to all sorts of experienced runners. The next step is to provide the participants with something to follow, such as a 5K training program guide giving them a goal to achieve. Finding a way to instill motivation and inspiration among participants is critical for the success of a run group program!

Scott was extremely helpful with all the fruitful information that he provided. If you want to learn more about run groups, you can view a video of Scotts Webinar here: 

Please email or submit any run group or training for a 5k information that you may have so we can add it to our wellness toolkit! (,



Tags:  5K Training  Community  Family  Health  Parks  Programs  Run Groups  Trails  Wellness  Wellness bulletin 

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Be Smart, Eat Smart!

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, February 23, 2015

Good Afternoon,  

There are multiple reasons why people may have unhealthy diets. Some reasons can include: lack of proper nutrition information, difficulties accessing affordable healthy foods, or lack of desire to change their eating habits because of various factors. While it is impossible for parks and recreation agencies to solve all barriers to healthy eating, there are still ways to promote healthy eating in your department and community. Our Wellness Initiative webpage provides information to help your department get a jumpstart on creating a healthier community when it comes to healthy eating and cooking.

Specifically, our tool kit page on Healthy Cooking and Nutrition Programs can guide your department in establishing nutrition programs for the community. The first step is to have nutrition training for your staff, which will increase awareness and knowledge of nutrition within your department. You can reach out to the local cooperative extension,  county health department, or nutritionist from a local college to come and lead a staff training on nutrition. The next step is to build a network and create more contacts in your community, one idea is to reach out to local farmers to come and talk about the development of produce. Another option is to contact your local food bank to start a cooking program for food-insecure families. There could be other local vendors who are willing to help endorse healthy eating and nutrition programs as well. Lastly, one idea to expand awareness in your community is to a host a parks and recreation healthy cook-off. Pick a local or annual event to bring in community members, local farmers, chefs and vendors to share information, cooking-tips, and recipes. Refer to our Using Local Produce in Agency Programs webpage for more information on local produce in North Carolina. 

Remember, knowledge is power! Healthy eating habits and information is continuously evolving and improving, it is important to share current information in your community. As always, be sure to share your nutrition or healthy cooking class ideas with us so we can add it to our wellness toolkit! (,


Tags:  Health  Healthy Lifestyle  Local Vendors  Nutrition Programs  Wellness bulletin 

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Making the Most Out of Grant Opportunities

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, February 16, 2015

Good afternoon!

This past month the National Parks and Recreation Association made available a $1.8 million grant funding to local park and recreation agencies to help support out-of-school programs. The grant is an exciting opportunity because it supports the same principals of NCRPA’s Wellness Initiative when it comes to health and wellbeing in the communities we serve. NRPA will be awarding 50 new one-year grants, so the challenge is how to get your department involved as a top contender for one of these grants!

Listed are the four main goals of NRPA’s grant in-which your department can become involved with:

1.      Increase the number of healthy meals for children in low-income communities.

2.      Implement and increase standards of nutrition and physical activity.

3.      Create behavior change through nutrition literacy and teaching the importance of healthy eating.

4.      Implement strategies and policies to reduce food waste and costs.

The NCRPA Wellness Toolkit has information that discusses wellness activities and education that target a number of the NRPA grant goals. On our Healthy Concessions page, we discuss how your department can include healthy vending and concession items without losing revenue. Offering more nutritional items can impact the overall health of the families and children involved in your programs. We also have information on the Wellness Activities and Education webpage containing ideas on adding nutrition education and physical activity within after school and camp programs for children. Lastly, on reducing food waste and costs, refer to our Healthy Fundraising page to gather tips on how to create revenue through non-food, activity based, and healthy food fundraising ideas.

The NCRPA toolkit is a great resource to generate ideas and motivate your department to apply for the NRPA Out-of-School Time Programs Grant. You all have the ability to meet the goals of the NRPA grant and to make a difference in the community.

Remember, if you have any ideas on health and wellbeing please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  Health  NCRPA  NRPA  Out-of-School Program Grant  Wellness 

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Family Night Fun

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, February 9, 2015

Happy Monday,

Now that February is off to a great start, we can start planning March and April activities and hosting a Family Game Night is the perfect opportunity to bring together the community. Not only are you using your parks, but it also promotes healthy activities for both children and adults. The children will be physically engaged and making new friends while participating in the planned activity.

What’s Needed? First, select an ideal park location that can hold various amount of activities for children and adults. Plan activities for the children followed by a cookout or even a movie night. Some popular games include: Capture the Flag, Ultimate Frisbee, Soccer, Scavenger Hunt, Tag or an Obstacle Race Course. Depending on your target age with the children, you can adjust the competitiveness to the age group. Recruit family members to help run the activities during the event! Remember to contact local vendors to provide healthy food or snacks for after the evening activities. This is a perfect opportunity for vendors to get to know the community and for the families to know about vending offerings.

This month is full of good information, so stay tuned! If you have any new ideas for outdoor family programs, please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,

Tags:  Active Lifestyle  Family  Health  Healthy Vending  Movie Night  Wellness 

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February is American Heart Month

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, Graduate Assistant - NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, February 2, 2015

The past couple blogs have focused on programs that can be started in your department, topics including: healthy eating, employee wellness ideas, and community program proposals. However, I feel that it is also our duty, as parks and recreation professionals, to provide educational information to our community regarding topics on health and wellness.

If you weren’t already aware February is American Heart Month and according to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Sadly, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease, which can be caused by a stroke, stress, unhealthy eating habits, and high blood pressure.

So now the good news! Heart disease can be prevented when people start making healthier choices and managing their health conditions. During the month of February, we can help our communities, departments, and families to learn how to fight heart disease.

Here are some ideas:

·         Encourage your department to share healthy recipes and exercise tips. Provide health information to the community in any updates or monthly newsletters.

·         Use social media to your advantage, such as Facebook or Twitter. Send a tweet about American Heart Month, and follow American Heart Association on Twitter to receive daily news and updates:

·         Motivate your department to make physical activity a part of their work day. Introduce ideas such as a morning yoga session, walking during a break, or a run group after work. The objective is to create a common goal with your peers and coworkers!

·         Reach out to local health professionals to create opportunities to inform your community on ways to prevent heart disease. You can even host a community event where families learn more about healthy eating and physical activity.

Remember, half the battle is getting the right information out to the community! I challenge all of you to take the lead and raise awareness for American Heart Month in support of healthier communities and healthier lives. For more information please visit:

If you have any ideas for promoting American Heart Month within your community and department, please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  American Heart Association  American Heart Month  awareness  Health  Wellness 

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Capture a New Outdoor Program

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, Graduate Assistant - NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, January 26, 2015

This week’s blog is a quick preview of our next Wellness Webinar: 8 easy program ideas for 2015. As we prepare ideas for the spring months, one simple program ideas is to hold a Family Outdoor Scavenger Hunt. Not only does this event bring together families if your community, but it takes advantage of your parks, walking trails, and greenways. A scavenger hunt will get your community out an about in your park and allow you to increase awareness of other programs and facilities!

How can you set up an Outdoor Family Scavenger Hunt?

1.)    First, what equipment and staff will you need? Request families upon signing-up to bring a device that takes pictures, such as a digital camera or a camera phone. Other items may include: pens, pencils, and timers to keep track of the duration of the activity. On the day of the event, provide 2 or 3 programmers/volunteers to assist with questions and help families during the scavenger hunt.

2.)    Second, provide a specific park location and a scavenger hunt list. Here are some ideas of what the list can include: a smooth stone, a colorful bird, a butterfly, a rabbit or deer, a pond, or even a family-selfie in front of a park sign! Be as creative as you would like, the options are endless.

3.)    Lastly, on the day of the event, make sure a meeting spot has been designated. Explain the instructions to the family and agree on an end time to the scavenger hunt. At the end of the event, you can provide fun prizes or a healthy snack for the children.

There are many advantages to an Outdoor Family Scavenger Hunt! It ultimately gives a reason for families to spend time together and to explore a park in your community. It is low-cost, and uses resources that you most likely already have.

Click the link for more scavenger hunt ideas provided by “My Kids’ Adventures” an online magazine:

Don’t forget, you can still register for this week’s webinar. The presentation will focus on 8 easy program ideas for 2015 conducted by the NCRPA staff on Wednesday, January 28th, at 1pm; Register here:

If you have any new ideas for outdoor family programs, please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  Activities  Family  Greenways  Nature  Outdoor  Parks  Wellness 

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Workplace Wellness

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, Graduate Assistant - NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, January 12, 2015

The beginning of a new year is a great time to create new programs and ideas for the upcoming year. Today’s blog focuses on how to improve your department’s health by creating an employee wellness program. What exactly is an employee wellness program? An employee wellness program, also called a “worksite wellness program,” is a program designed to promote and support the health, safety, and well-being of employees. Establishing an employee wellness program is a motivating way to start off the New Year promoting unity and healthy choices within your department.

Why develop an employee wellness programs? A wellness program has many positive attributes such as improving staff health, morale and productivity. Also supporting the staff to make healthy lifestyle choices will encourage them to be role models for the community.

What are some components of an employee wellness program? Some components include providing wellness newsletters, health risk assessments, health screenings, workshops on wellness issues, walking or running groups, health fairs, physical activity breaks, and fitness classes. Other incentives to remain healthy include: water bottles, insulated lunch bags, stress balls or cookbooks! Employees may have other ideas in your department, so ask around!

The next step is knowing how to start an employee wellness program. Here are some of the basic steps to getting a program started: (More resources can be found at:

1.    Contact Human Resources to see if a program exists and how it can be implemented in your department, or how they can assist you in starting one.

2.    Develop a staff advisory committee to coordinate and plan the program.

3.    Conduct a needs and resources assessment. Determining employee needs, interests, concerns and schedules will help outline the structure of the wellness program.

4.    Develop program components and activities based on findings of the needs assessment.

5.    Include incentives to encourage employee participation.

6.    Notify employees of the program through flyers, e-mails, payroll stuffers, and posters.

7.    Implement the program.

8.    Evaluate the program!

This is just one of many ideas for healthy living programs to create during the upcoming year. Our upcoming webinar will focus on another 8 program ideas for 2015 conducted by NCRPA on January 28th, 11:30am; Register here:

If you have any new ideas for employee wellness programs, please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,

Tags:  Fitness  Health  NCRPA  Organization  Wellness  Wellness bulletin 

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Offering More Healthy Options in 2015

Posted By AARON DAVIS, Graham Recreation & Parks, Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Welcome to 2015, the gyms are packed full of people who want to obtain their new year’s resolution of losing weight, becoming fit and most importantly living healthier. So, as a recreation professional, you already supply a weight room or workout area for the public, along with miles and miles of greenways, running and walking tracks, that will hopefully get used just as much in January when our resolutionaires, (yes, I made that word up), are putting in the work, as it does in June and July when those resolutions hopefully are still intact. However, what can we do to help our communities eat healthier as well? Maybe it’s our turn to take a stab at helping the citizens we serve not only reach their fitness goals but also empower them to be healthy in their food choices!


So, I have the perfect idea for you!


Let’s take all of the junk food out of our concession stands at all of our recreation centers and parks, most importantly our vending machines and stock pile them with all healthy foods and drinks.


Um...that's expensive, and what if everyone doesn’t eat it? We might lose money and the bosses don’t like losing money!


But if we go 100% healthy, everyone will have no choice but to drink our water and buy our healthy snacks!


Oh, wait, we decided already that not everyone wants those healthy things. 


I know! What if we keep items like hotdogs and hamburgers, but offer them along with healthier options and healthier sides/snacks? This way we are not completely preventing our customers from the things that they want, hopefully in moderation!   


So it’s settled then, we add healthy items to sell to those who are already health conscious, we eliminate the unhealthy items that don’t sell, keep traditional items like hotdogs and hamburgers and continue to turn a great profit on all of the items. 


So clap along if you feel like creating a HEALTHIER community in which you work in! 




1.        Find out what items like traditional items like hot-dogs and hamburgers you community likes and keep them.

2.        Find out what you sell the least and kick it

3.        Offer free samples during big events to expose your community to healthier options!

4.        Offer mutable fruit options, items you can freeze have added value!  

5.        Try offering Fruit Smoothies – you can use the frozen fruit

a)        Yeah, I just saved you some money there too!

6.        Offer nutrition facts about the health and the non-healthy items

a)        You might inspire someone to change

b)        But don't expect to change everyone and don't push them to change

7.        Develop a marketing plan

a)        Design signage that will appeal to your healthy eaters, leave it up!

8.        Partner with others in your area that promote a healthy lifestyle for discounted goods or incentives. 

a)        Local Farms, athletic stores, Health Stores etc...

9.        Search for a grants and funding that may help you fund some of the transition

10.    Be healthy yourself, because the more motivation you have, the more motivation you’ll have to inspire change in others!



Tags:  Blogs  Fitness  Health  Parks  Recreation  Tips  Wellness 

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Warm Up with a Winter Workout

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, Graduate Assistant - NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Holidays!

We all may have time off for the holidays, but that is no reason to take time off from a healthy lifestyle. Today’s blog will focus on some winter workout tips to stay motivated and inspired during the colder months. Feel free to share among your department and community to help keep everyone active during the festive winter season. The following workout and nutrition ideas are a great way to build unity among your department and bring together coworkers for fun activities.

Merrell’s Winter Workout Blog provides great starter tips to encourage staying active during the colder winter months. The first idea is to ask coworkers to join in a morning walk or jog. Make sure to pick a rewarding end to your workout, such as fresh fruit and bagels for the office or stopping by a local coffee shop. It is easier to be motivated by having workout companions and a treat to kick-start the work day. If you happen to have the work day-off, you can still plan to meet with coworkers in your local park and grab brunch at the end of the workout. This can also create more unity among the office, as well as have a healthy common goal.

Additionally, joining a holiday-themed race in your community is another idea. Reach out to your coworkers and explore different runs that you can register as an individual or with your entire department. Many of these events support local charities and raising money for a good cause is a great way to not let the cold stop you from being active and fit.  Once again, this helps with team building among the office and coming together during this festive season.

Another idea is to create an indoor morning workout circuit. If the conditions outside are icy and snowy then motivate your coworkers for a quick 25-30 minute morning or lunch workout. You don’t have to purchase heavy equipment to have an effective indoor workout. Easy circuit routines, such as core strengthening, lunges, squats, push-ups, and stretches can be still effective. You can easily find examples of workouts online, try this one for starters: 15-Minute Workout: Core Exercises.

Along with working out, set smart holiday nutrition goals, the following tips also provided by Merrell. Find a co-worker or friend to become accountable for each other. Find a manageable way to check in daily to let each other know if you have stuck to your goals. An easy way to keep track of eating is to keep a daily food dairy. It has been shown that those who keep a food diary, especially during the holiday season, are more likely to maintain healthy eating habits. December, continuing into January, is a good month to set monthly goals and to keep track of what you are eating and drinking. Lastly, plan your week or meals in advance. If you have multiple nights out or work parties approaching, then plan your healthy meals around these social occasions to balance your holiday nutrition. Be sure to stay hydrated and maintain a balance of fruit and vegetables among the sweet holiday treats.

I challenge all of you during the rest of December to engage yourself in healthy holiday eating practices and to exercise regularly. Set a goal to ring in the New Year, and maintain these holiday nutrition and exercise tips throughout the year for a healthy lifestyle. If you have any healthy eating ideas or exercise tips during the holiday season then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  Health  Recreation  Tips  Wellness  Wellness bulletin 

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Why pursue a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) certification?

Posted By Jason Tryon, Assistant Director of Parks & Recreation - Town of Indian Trail, Thursday, December 18, 2014

When asked why I pursued the Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) certification. My initial thought was; why not? I think it is my obligation as a recreation professional to seek as much knowledge and offerings as possible. To me, the CPRP was a chance to reflect on my experience, and take the passion I have for this field into recognition, in the form of certification.

The certification was motivation to prove to myself that I have gained a great deal of experience and knowledge over the last few years. I found the study guide to be extremely interesting, with topics that I have not dealt with in several years. This helped refresh my mind on how to pursue certain issues. After my first time reading through the study guide, I realized what areas I needed to focus on. This helped me not only for the exam, but also with day-to-day responsibilities.

I also decided to pursue certification as a level of dedication and acknowledgement. I hoped that this could show my employer and other departments the dedication I have and, hopefully, help my career path along the way. I have noticed more and more opportunities that are seeking the certification as a preferred accomplishment for candidates. Since obtaining my certification I have advanced my career and I believe that this was one of the deciding factors to my employer.

Not only that, I pursued the CPRP because I love the field of parks and recreation and hope to continue my career path. In order to pursue advancement I believe it is vital to pursue any certifications I can. This does not just stand true for the CPRP but also for specialized certifications as well, like the CPSI and AFO. 

The CPRP has helped me get involved on both a state and national level with several committees through contacts I have made with other professionals. CPRP has also helped me set an example to my staff. I recently had one staff member that I hired call me with such excitement to inform me of the same achievement. That moment was just as if not more exciting than obtaining the certification myself, it is a testament that what we do as recreation professionals can have an impact on not only our communities but our staff as well.

 Visit for more info on how you can pursue your CPRP. 

Tags:  CPRP  NCRPA  NRPA  Parks  Recreation  Tips  To-do 

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Eating Healthy During the Holiday Season

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, Graduate Assistant - NC Recreation & Park Association, Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Parties are becoming more popular as we approach the holidays, whether if that’s celebrating with family or work. The endless amount of treats and desserts can challenge your commitment to healthy eating, but it can be managed! In this week’s wellness bulletin, I will provide some tricks to reduce the calorie consumption without sacrificing all the treats. Feel free to pass the ideas along to your department as you plan holiday gatherings and celebrations.

How can you prepare a healthier party? WebMD: Food and Recipes has 10 Healthy Holiday Party Tips to get you started! One easy step is using smaller plates and cups, which will result in smaller portions among the guest. Smaller plates will lend a hand in guest’s subconsciously reducing the amount of food intake during the meal. While smaller cups will downsize the amount of surgery drinks. Be sure to offer plenty of water for people to have a healthy and calorie-free drink option. Club soda is also a good and low in sugar solution to mix with alcoholic beverages. Additionally, creating a food-free space will minimize the unconscious snacking throughout the party. According to Eating Well starting the meal with soup or salad will help the guest fill up on something light and have less room for starchy and heavier foods. There are some easy and cheap options to encourage healthy habits during the party that can be easily implemented among work and family gatherings. More specific healthy holiday dessert recipes can be found on the Eating Well website.

If you don’t have a “healthy holiday recipe:” try making simple substitutions to your favorite recipes, which can help to reduce calories, fat and sugar. There are smart ingredient substitutions when baking your favorite holiday meals for parties and gatherings. First, instead of using butter, substitute equal parts cinnamon-flavored, no sugar added applesauce, a healthier option then using high-in-fat butter. Another easy idea is to use low-fat or skim milk instead of whole or heavy cream in recipes. An alternative trick is using half white and half whole-wheat flour instead of only white flour. Lastly, replace chocolate chips or candies with dried fruit, such as cranberries or cherries to achieve the sweet taste in your baked good. More healthy tricks and replacements can be found on the American Heart Association website.

The Wellness Initiative wants to add more ideas among the Healthy Policy Ideas, so if you have any healthy eating party ideas or tips during the holiday season then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,



Tags:  Health  Holidays  NCRPA  Parks  Recipes  Recreation  Wellness  Wellness bulletin 

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Tips for Staying Organized During Your Busy Season

Posted By Carlyn Sautter, Graham Recreation & Parks, Saturday, December 13, 2014
Updated: Friday, December 12, 2014
It comes at different times of the year for all of us: the season where we need 30 hours in a day. The time of the year when it doesn't seem possible that we are doing so much yet still keeping our sanity. How do we stay organized when our plates are so full? Below is a short list of tips to help you through your busy season:

1. Start early. It’s always something we intend to do, but it really does help. Even if it’s something small. Nothing beats opening a folder for an upcoming program and seeing that it already contains a list of necessary improvements, along with an updated registration form.

2. Create to-do lists. Start one for each program, and then make one each week (or even daily, if you’d prefer). Update as often as necessary. This will help give you a good idea of what tasks you’re up against, and you’ll be able to consciously balance your workload. Plus, doesn’t it feel amazing to cross something off a to-do list?

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Face it, you are going to need it at one point or another. Your busy season may not be so crazy for one of your co-workers. So ask! You’ll be able to return the favor one day! Bonus: it will give them insight on what you do on a daily basis.

4. Keep an organized office and desk. Think about it—if you walk into your office in the morning and see nothing but chaos, that’s most likely the mode your brain will function in all day. Stop and take a minute at the end of every day and clean things up a bit. This way, you won’t lose that to-do list that you worked so hard on—everything important is right there, reminding you it needs to be attended to.

5. Take time to regroup. This applies to you and your work duties. Every few days, take a look at the to-do lists you created in step 2 and re-evaluate. It will make you feel better to see that you’re actually getting things done. As for you—you can’t function at your most efficient capacity if you aren’t taking some time here and there to regroup. Take five minutes and meditate. Make sure you’re taking a lunch break. Have a good laugh. Whatever it is, just make sure you aren’t constantly under stress.

This list is by no means comprehensive. Some of you may have other tips and tricks to get by. We’d love to hear your ideas, be sure to share them on social media or via email with NCRPA! Good luck to everyone tackling their busy season right now!

Tags:  NCRPA  Organization  Recreation  Time Management  Tips  To-do 

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