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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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Happy Valentine's Day

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, February 13, 2017
Updated: Sunday, February 12, 2017

Happy Valentine’s Day! Valentine’s day usually goes hand-in-hand with chocolates and other unhealthy foods. Whether you are exchanging candy with a loved one or eating a high-calorie romantic meal, it can be hard to stay healthy on the big day. This wellness blog will give you and your department some ways to promote healthy Valentine’s Day behaviors in your community.

According to the National Retail Federation, American consumers are expected to spend an estimated $1.7 billion on candy this Valentine’s Day. This equates to almost 50% of all American consumers.

In an article found on, Valentine’s Day is the second-busiest day for restaurants in America. Couples indulge on many different international food options, with Italian and French restaurants gaining the most interest. The article also pointed out that this spike in restaurant orders isn’t just limited to couples. Individuals who are single are more likely to order indulgent food such as fries, wings, and pizza on food ordering websites such as GrubHub.

I’ll be the first to admit that my Valentine’s Day plans include a bit of candy and a trip to the local Italian restaurant. However, it’s important to partake in everything in moderation and make smart choices. Instead of the giant candy heart box, try a smaller version to express your love.

Your department may be holding a Valentine’s Day event at some point this week. In after-school programs, the day is likely to be celebrated. Instead of focusing solely on Valentine’s Day Candy, try to include other Valentine’s Day activities such as crafts. The children in your program then give these Valentine’s Day crafts to their loved ones. Activity sheets such as this one are great to help children celebrate Valentine’s Day while learning a bit about their health.

Another idea to promote a healthy Valentine’s Day in your community is to encourage couples to take advantage of your department’s parks. Encourage couples to take a romantic walk on a trail or park. Pick the suggested trail or park strategically - think about facilities that have a great view of the sunset, field of romantic winter flowers, or just a beautiful view. Once you have a facility in mind, advertise it through flyers, social media, and other mediums to attract couples to come out. This could be a great way to get people active in your parks, while still celebrating the romantic day.

Additionally, if your department holds any cooking courses, a special couples cooking class sometime around Valentine’s Day could garner a lot of interest! Couples could be taught how to cook an affordable, healthy, and romantic dinner at home instead of going out to eat for the night.

Valentine’s Day serves as a great day to remember that February is Healthy Heart Month. Last week, the wellness blog covered Health Heart Month extensively, but Valentine’s Day really drives home the point of loving your heart. This is a great time to promote and implement programs regarding heart health in your community.

I hope that this wellness blog has given you some ways to promote a healthy Valentine’s Day in your community. If your department has any health related Valentine’s Day programs, I’d love to find out more. Contact me at with any information! Have a safe and Happy Valentine’s Day.

Until next time,


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February is American Heart Month!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, February 6, 2017

If you did not know, February is American Heart Month. This wellness blog will give your department some statistics regarding the prevalence of heart disease in our communities, as well as some program ideas to help combat the problem.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death from American men and women - with 1 in 4 deaths each year being attributed to it. Additionally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 735,000 people each year suffer a heart attack.

Heart disease is commonly known to be associated with a variety of risk factors, including stress, high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, and poor diet. Although there are additional risk factors such as family history and heart valve issues, the majority of these factors are controllable by individual lifestyle changes. This is where your department can make a huge difference.

One strategy to prevent heart disease, as recommended by the CDC, is to maintain a healthy physical activity level. The surgeon general recommends two hours and thirty minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity for adults.

Maintaining a healthy diet is also an effective strategy in preventing heart disease. The CDC suggests limiting sodium and sugar in your diet and increasing the amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. For ideas regarding creating healthy eating programs in your community, please check out our November Wellness Webinar.

All of our recreation and park departments offer many opportunities for adults to get out and get active. Although it may seem like common sense that physical activity can help to prevent heart disease, some individuals may need an extra push to get started. Spread the word in your community that your facilities and programs can help in the fight against heart disease!  

One way to spread the word in your community is to post flyers around your facilities detailing the issue of heart health. Make sure to include recommendations to improve heart health, including physical activity and the programs/facilities you offer to achieve this.

The U.S Department of Health and Human Services created a Toolkit to help raise awareness about American Heart Month. It contains great resources to share with your respective communities, including sample social media tweets, infographics to share in community spaces, and ideas to get your workplace involved.

Your department could also suggest specific programs targeted towards improving heart health. Existing physical activity and healthy eating programs could be advertised with an emphasis on the heart healthy aspects they provide. In program guides, a simple “heart” icon can be placed next to said programs to allow them to be easily accessible.

A number of departments offer their staff the opportunity to become CPR and AED certified. If your department does not offer this training (or hasn’t in some time), American Heart Month is a great time to consider. The skills taught in a training course like this could help save someone’s life. To find your local American Red Cross, as well as instructors in your area, please click this link.

I hope that this wellness blog post has gotten you thinking about the issue of heart disease in our society. Whether you know it or not, your department likely already offers a program or facility that will help combat against this issue.


Until next time,


Tags:  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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Wellness Update

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Thursday, February 2, 2017


Here is a quick review of our wellness content from January:

The new month started with a wellness initiative review of 2016. Martin Luther King Jr. Day rolled around, and we discussed ways that volunteerism is good for community health. Additionally, the wellness blog covered two topics regarding starting a park prescription program: needs assessment & implementation and evaluation. Finally, guest blogger Dr. Marissa Tomasic joined us to discuss the role that parks and recreation professionals have on health initiatives.

Our January Wellness Webinar was a great one. Chamreece Diggs and Jason McCray of High Point Parks and Recreation joined us to discuss their Kosmic Dodgeball program. Click this link to check it out!

I hope that you have enjoyed the content of the NCRPA Wellness Initiative thus far!  If you would like to contribute to any wellness content in the future, we are always looking to showcase new voices. Feel free to email me at with any inquiries.


Until next time,


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YPN Blog: February 2017

Posted By Vicky Harley, Kernersville Parks and Recreation, Monday, January 30, 2017

Importance of an Internship

Hey y’all! With the new year underway, that means college has started back for some possible interns for your department! With that in mind, I wanted to stress the importance of an internship – a quality internship. Like Jared said in the November blog, we all most likely had one at some point in our parks and recreation career. You either knew what you wanted to do, you were testing the waters, or you needed something so you could graduate; whatever that reason may be, we were all there. My internship experience actually landed me the job I have now! I know some of you are thinking, “What does an internship have to do with me, I’m already in the field?” Well YOU can help your interns get the most out of their experience.

The first milestone is letting these students know you exist. We, the Young Professionals Network, want to reach out to area schools and colleges, so let’s make it count. Most guest speakers I had were wedding planners, a GIS analyst, and more wedding planners (my concentration was Commercial Recreation and Event Planning mind you). Not that I didn’t enjoy the information they passed along, but those fields weren’t something I was interested in and didn’t create a broad enough impression of the Recreation and Park Management major. Let these students know a little bit about your sector and what you provide to your town or city. Personally, I had never heard of the town I currently work in, or what working in a “traditional” parks and recreation department meant. As far as parks and recreation went for me, it meant trees, plants, and wedding planning – that’s it. Parks and recreation is so much more, from special events to athletics to outdoor and indoor facilities, parks and recreation is a plethora of programs and events that offer the community a great way to be safe while promoting health as well as protecting the environment.

Now when the interns start, they’re a little nervous – whether they show it or not. Be the person to help them ease into their new role, give a few pointers here and there like: “Tom doesn’t mind questions, so ask away.” Encourage them to be proactive to achieve beyond just their objectives. Say they want to attend a meeting; push them to attend a staff meeting, an advisory board meeting, a town/city department head meeting and every level in between. While at the meeting, also engage and participate in that meeting. This helps them know the full scope of what you do all the way up to how it affects your citizens and other departments. This also expands their knowledge and opens them to other positions and aspects they may take interest in.

Lastly, everyone talks about networking, and while it took me a while to get the hang of it, it is truly important to maintain those relationships. Phones and e-mails work both ways; if a previous intern reaches out to you, make sure to respond even if it’s only, “Hope you’re doing well!” What these interns know is important, but how they use this knowledge makes the biggest impression! So if they have made an impression on you and there is a job opening, email or call them and say, “Hey there’s a position that I think you should apply for.”

Parks and recreation is a big family in my eyes. We all make a difference. You can make an impression on a student by pushing them and treating them like a true professional during their internship and keeping in contact with them after the internship has ended. That’s just my two cents!

Meet the Author

Vicky Harley is a Recreation Administrative Specialist with Kernersville Parks and Recreation, where she did her internship. She has a B.S. in Recreation and Park Management with a minor in Business from UNC: Greensboro. Vicky was born and raised in Columbia, SC (Go Gamecocks!) and currently lives in Greensboro with her fiancé and rescued fur baby Sasha. Favorite Sport- VOLLEYBALL! Played at UNCG and miss it dearly. Favorite Hobby – Cooking and Arts & Craft, Pinterest is my best friend. What’s new – Wedding Planning *woot woot* All those tips from guest speakers are helping out!

Vicky can be reached at or 336-996-3062x3.


If you are interested in being a guest author for the YPN Blog, please contact Nicole at or 919-832-5868.

For more information on the importance of internships as well as useful resources, don't forget to check out NCRPA's Intern Connection at

Tags:  intern  internship  internships  young professionals  ypn 

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Recreation and Park Professionals Play Pivotal Role in Health Initiatives

Posted By Marisa Tomasic, Ph.D., Monday, January 30, 2017

January 23, 2017

Marisa Tomasic, Ph.D.


The benefits of nature continue to gain recognition among health care providers. A good dose of the outdoors are finding their way into the prescriptions for a variety of medical conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, weight issues, fatigue, diabetes, and cancer. Healing from surgery has also shown to be enhanced by engaging with the outdoors (FoodTrients Recipe for Aging Beautifully).


Nature therapy, also referred to as “ecotherapy” and “green therapy,” has been shown to yield significant benefits in the areas of mental and emotional health as well.  Various measurements of stress, including pulse rate, blood pressure readings, and stress hormone levels, have been found to move in positive directions in studies of the health benefits of the outdoors. Stress, anxiety, and depression are known to improve when outdoor activity is incorporated into treatment plans. The exposure to sunlight that outdoor activity brings has long been recognized as a healing force for depression, with the sleep- and energy-enhancing properties of natural light assisting in elevating mood and feelings of well-being. (FoodTrients Recipe for Aging Beautifully) Exercise, frequently thought of as one of nature’s antidepressants, appears to produce more robust health benefits when conducted in the outdoors!


This exciting wave of research underscores the value of our state’s parks in promoting mental health and wellness.  Recreation and park professionals have a unique role to play in these initiatives as people take to the great outdoors to have fun, de-stress, and enhance their physical and mental wellness. Penn State University’s School of Health and Human Development suggests that park and recreation professionals have gained greater recognition in recent years as key players in health and wellness partnerships.

With this in mind, there are a variety of ways for park and recreation professionals to engage in mental health promotion. Activities to consider as participants in mental health initiatives throughout the state’s park and recreation departments include:

  • Educating communities about the health-promoting aspects of nature and the outdoors

  • Organizing walks, hikes, and fun-runs for children and adults

  • Inviting yoga and exercise studios to periodically move their classes outdoors

  • Conducting park and nature retreats for residents of urban areas

  • Leading older adults in walks and exercise classes in the park

  • Developing after school park activities which foster appreciation of nature

  • Planning “art in the park” exhibits and classes

  • Offering geocaching activities and competitions for all age level

  • Partnering with physicians who offer “nature prescriptions” to their patients

  • Teaming up with corporate wellness programs and incorporating outdoor components

  • Participating in Health Impact Studies when possible

  • Encouraging park and recreation involvement via robust social media presence

  • Engaging with psychologists and other mental health professionals to offer stress management classes in the park and to consult on an ongoing basis

The benefits of nature therapy are vast. Hopefully, your department can embrace this practice and find ways to spread it with the community.





Meet the Author

 Marisa McMillian Tomasic, Ph.D., was born and raised in Mount Airy, North  Carolina, and is currently a psychologist and freelance writer in Pittsburgh,  Pennsylvania.  She is the mother of two and loves the beach, the Carolina  Tar Heels, and spending time with  family.  


If you are interested in being a guest author for the Wellness Blog, please contact Diquan at or 919-832-5868

Tags:  ncrpa wellness  Wellness 

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ParkRx: Implementation & Evaluation

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, January 23, 2017

Monday, January 23rd 2017

The National ParkRx Initiative recently hosted a three-part webinar series about creating and sustaining park prescription programs in your department. I attended Part III: Implementation and Evaluation of this series and today’s wellness blog will detail some of what I learned.

According to the National Park Rx Initiative, “Park prescriptions are programs designed in collaboration with public land agencies, healthcare providers, and community partners to encourage people to utilize parks, trails, and open space for the purpose of improving individual and community health.”

When creating or strengthening Park Rx programs, implementation and evaluation are vital steps. This is the phase where partnership and needs assessment come together, to form a comprehensive Park Rx program.

The webinar covered a case study from a successful Park Rx program in Marin City, California. First, the Marin City program established partnerships with local health providers including the Marin City Health Department, as well as some local doctors. At-risk patients who visited partner health provider were identified to be good candidates for participation in a Park Rx program. With collaboration from the health care provider and the ParkRx program, the patients are prescribed different activities within the Marin City park system.

Throughout their attendance, the health provider sends someone to accompany the patient at their prescribed park, as well as debrief meeting afterward. Regular follow-up meetings occur to make sure the patient is meeting their goals and still participating in the program.

Marin City provided additional details regarding the implementation of their ParkRx program. Their “recipe for success” consisted of: Committed partners + Park + High Health Needs = Success. Sustaining success with the Marin City ParkRx program involved “ongoing regular meetings with backbone support.” This sustainability included regular communication and connection, updating each partner, and celebrating successes.

The example from Marin City did a good job of showing how the partnerships between health provider and parks and recreation department strengthened the implementation of their ParkRx program. It is clear that the program would not be successful without buy-in from the parks department, health provider, and patient.

Evaluation of ParkRx programs is crucial to determining how they can be improved. An example from Miami-Dade county’s ParkRx program found some interesting data-based conclusions, as well as some metrics you can use to evaluate your ParkRx program.

 Key areas of measurements are needed to be identified before an evaluation is done. The questions that the Miami-Dade County program asked included:


  • Who do we want to reach?

  • Who can we partner with?

  • What do you want to measure?

  • What would you like your ideal outcomes to be?

To collect this evaluation data, staff was trained to measure participant height and weight, waist and hip circumference, skinfold measures, blood pressure and pulse, as well as to administer the Presidential Fitness Test and a general knowledge test.

Overall, Miami-Dade County’s program found that school-aged students in their “Fit 2 Play” ParkRx program collectively maintained a healthy weight and BMI throughout the school year. Participants also lowered their blood pressure and improved their physical activity level and knowledge about nutrition. Finally, the evaluation also found that children with disabilities equally benefited from the program.

The data collected through the evaluation phase is helpful for a number of reasons. It creates concrete evidence regarding the effectiveness of the ParkRx program. This evidence can help tremendously in expanding your program or getting new people involved.

I hope that you find the information in this blog to be useful!  If you want to learn more about Park Prescriptions, please check out my write up of  Part One: Partnership, as well as Part Two: Needs Assessment.

If your department has or is planning to start a park prescription program, I would love to find out more information. Please email me at to share!

Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  park prescription  Wellness 

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MLK Day - Volunteering for Health!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, January 16, 2017

Monday, January 16th 2017


Happy MLK Day! With Martin Luther King Jr. being celebrated today, it reminded me of the volunteer opportunities in our community. Volunteering is not only good for the greater community but in many cases, it can also positively benefit individual health. This wellness blog will highlight some of the important health benefits of volunteerism, both mental and physical.

According to a passage found on the King Center’s website written by Coretta Scott King, “Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not only for celebration, remembrance, education, and tribute, but above all a day of service. All across America on the Holiday, his followers perform service in hospitals and shelters and prisons and wherever people need some help. It is a day of volunteering to feed the hungry, rehabilitate housing, to tutor those who can’t read, mentor at-risk youngsters, console the broken-hearted and a thousand other projects for building the beloved community of his dream.” The holiday always serves as a great reminder of the importance of volunteerism. There is no debate that volunteerism is good for the community, but let’s take a look at some of the positive health implications that come with volunteering.

Volunteering often gets the community on their feet and active. One example of this is community gardening. In addition to the health benefits of the fresh produce that your garden will produce, the volunteers engage in physical activity.  According to the NCRPA Wellness Toolkit, An hour of light gardening can burn as many calories in the average adult as spending an hour walking 3.5 miles. If your community has a community garden, encourage people to volunteer at it! Although the weather may be too cold, now is the perfect time to start getting the word out about volunteering in the spring. Try highlighting these health benefits as well in your marketing efforts. For information on starting a community garden program in your community, check out the program idea on the wellness toolkit.

A department-wide volunteer day can also be beneficial. If your community has a park or area that is in need of some upkeep, hold a volunteer day where different departments come together to help in the cleanup. From personal experience volunteer events like this are great for teambuilding, and also are a great chance for some exercise. You could even try reaching out to a neighboring department to see if they have any upcoming programs or special events that require volunteers. Not only would this help another department, but will also give insight on how their programs are run.

Another option for group community volunteering is partnering with an existing volunteer-based organization, such as Habitat for Humanity. I really have enjoyed volunteering with Habitat and they can often accommodate large groups. Not only does a large build give you a great workout, but helping build a home for a family in need made me feel extremely proud. To find a Habitat for Humanity location near you, go to this website and type in your zip code.

In many of our departments, youth athletic leagues are coached by volunteer coaches. These leagues are extremely valuable for youth development and health, and could not be successful without the countless volunteer coaches. On this day of volunteerism, recognizing our department volunteers is very important. One way to both recognize and help strengthen volunteer coaches is to hold a volunteer coaching clinic. At these coaching clinics, proper methods for coaching our youth can be discussed. Extraordinary coaching jobs can then be recognized in hopes that the behavior can be mirrored in other coaches. Be sure to stress the importance of their role in community health, and that your athletic league would not be the same without them.

In November, the NCRPA Wellness blog discussed the issue of food insecurity in North Carolina. This blog post discusses some ideas for combating against this issue, as well as ways to volunteer at food pantries, and best methods for food drive collection. To read this blog post, please click this link.

Personally, volunteering makes me feel good. Helping those who are less fortunate & helping to preserve our world’s natural beauty allows me time to reflect on things that I am thankful for. According to an article published by,  volunteering is good for mental health. The article states that “volunteering may provide a sense of purpose” and help maintain social networks. The Time article also points to a study by PsycNet that suggested individuals over the age of 50 who volunteer regularly are less likely to developed high-blood pressure than individuals who do not volunteer.

On this Martin Luther King day, think about all of the reasons that volunteering is good for your mental, physical, and community health. Even if you are not volunteering today, this reflection time can guide you in the right direction for the future.

Until next time,


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ParkRx: Needs Assessment

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, January 9, 2017

January 9th, 2017


 The National ParkRx Initiative recently hosted a three-part webinar series about creating and sustaining park prescription programs in your department. I recently attended Part II: Needs Assessment of this series and found the information extremely interesting. Today’s wellness blog will detail some of what I learned from attending this webinar.

In case you are unfamiliar with park prescription programs, I want to first cover the basics. According to the National Park Rx Initiative, “Park prescriptions are programs designed in collaboration with public land agencies, healthcare providers, and community partners to encourage people to utilize parks, trails, and open space for the purpose of improving individual and community health.”

To create and strengthen ParkRx programs, a needs assessment is necessary.  This assessment allows for proper development of Park Prescription programs that fit community resources and needs. Once the needs assessment is completed, goals and objectives of your program can be tailored to fit the identified needs. Information found in the needs assessment can also be used to educate the public and ParkRx partners about your department's features.

As a part of the needs assessment, community trails and parks should be assessed. The National Park Service developed a useful Prescription Trails Assessment Worksheet to be used when assessing trails. This assessment details infrastructure such as trail parking, accessibility, surfaces, resting areas and more. When an assessment like this one is completed, it allows your department to recognize areas that could be strengthened, as well as areas to advertise to participants.

Community parks also need to be properly assessed to develop park prescription programs. For this assessment, a method similar to the prescription trails assessment worksheet is used. The Community Park Audit Tool was developed by Active Living Research and takes inventory on important metrics in your parks. This form asks a series of questions regarding your park with check boxes to select applicable information.

Community health assessment is also required in order to strengthen Park Rx programs. To accomplish this, the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC) is recommended. SOPARC is an assessment system  designed to “obtain direct information on community park use, including relevant concurrent characteristics of parks and their users.” This assessment gathers information regarding park users physical activity levels, activity types, and basic demographics.  

SOPARC is conducted using momentary time sampling techniques. Data collectors head out to parks at specific times during the day and use these worksheets to record what park participants are doing. Activity level is determined and jotted down in the appropriate space. For example, if the park user is lying down in a hammock, they would receive a mark of “S” for sedentary. Vice versa, if an individual is jogging or playing a game of basketball, they would receive a mark of “V” for vigorous. The category walking or “W” is in the middle, meaning the individual is walking at a casual pace.

To learn more about SOPARC and how it accurately measures community health in parks, please click this link. It’s a great resource with some important information on collection methods, observation periods, and more.

I hope that you find the information in this blog to be useful!  If you want to learn more about Park Prescriptions, please check out my write up of  Part One: Partnership of this series at this link. Be on the lookout for my post on part three of this series in the coming weeks!

If your department has or is planning to start a park prescription program, I would love to find out more information. Please email me at to share!

Until next time,


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YPN Blog: January 2017

Posted By Katy Keller, Indian Trail Parks and Recreation, Thursday, January 5, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hello Young Professionals!

My name is Katy Keller, and I work with Indian Trail Parks and Recreation as a Program Coordinator. In a previous blog, Jared Mull from Transylvania County talked about why and how to get involved at the NCRPA level. This month I am going to build off of that and talk about taking on leadership roles early in your career.

When taking on leadership roles, here are several things to consider:

1) Find your passion. What are you passionate about? What do you want to do? Where do you want to be in 10 years? I struggle with these questions. Honestly, how are you supposed to professionally say, “I don’t know the right answer to this question.”  Instead, focus on your values. Write down what is most important to you and stick with it. From there, create your vision and write down goals that can help you achieve it. Once you have these down, get invested. Stand behind your cause.

2) It’s not always about you. We have all heard that there is no “I” in team. When taking on leadership roles, it’s important to take a “team” stance. Your decisions are now based on what is best for the team versus what is best for you as an individual. Know your own strengths and weaknesses first and strive to enhance them. Communication is key. The way you speak to others is just as important as how others receive the information. Make sure that the message is not lost in the delivery.

3) Watch, listen and learn. Great leaders should always want to learn more. To better your team, you have to better yourself. If people are talking to you, truly listen to what they have to say before speaking. One of the biggest things that I have learned is observing how people react to situations – whether it’s a peer or more distinguished professional. Find a distinguished professional either in your department or in the field. Establish a connection and get their advice or watch how they react to situations. Learn from them. When it comes to learning, always continue to seek out knowledge whether it’s through a workshop, conference, or other professionals.

4. Be at the table. If you’re truly ready to take on a leadership role, it’s time to make your presence known. Speak up at meetings. You have to get invested and get involved. Whether it’s speaking up at a meeting, signing up to do a session at conference, or wanting to get more involved in the NCRPA Young Professionals Network. Sell yourself. Don’t like public speaking or even speaking up? Join the club. Amy Cuddy’s Tedx explains it best in Fake It Till You Make It.

Here are some great resources and tips on ways that you can get involved:

  • Jump on a monthly conference call (some examples listed below):
    • NCRPA Young Professionals Network – information can be found here.
    • NRPA Young Professionals Network – next meeting is January 19 at 2pm
  • Find a Mentor
    • Find a distinguished professional in your department or field and send them an email introducing yourself.
    • NCRPA YPNs along with NRPA YPNs typically have a “Take a Professional Out to Lunch” or a similar program that pairs you with a distinguished professional in the field. Take advantage of this!
  • NCRPA Forums
    • Have a question or need some resources? Ask through the NCRPA Forum! On the flip side, if you can answer any of the questions that are coming through, do so. Get your name out there and get involved.

Ultimately, it is your decision whether you choose to take on a leadership role. I encourage each of you to take the next step in speaking up because what you have to say matters. As young professionals, we are the future, and you should have a say in that. 

Meet the Author

Katy Keller is a Program Coordinator with Indian Trail Parks & Recreation. Katy is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina and received her B.S. degree in Recreation & Park Management from Appalachian State University. Katy has previously worked as a Recreation Specialist for Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation. In March 2015, she was hired by the Town of Indian Trail, where her main responsibilities include programming, marketing, and overseeing contracts. Katy is also the East Central Regional rep for the NRPA’s YPN State Associations Committee and is active in the NCRPA YPN with Student Outreach. Outside of work Katy enjoys spending time with her husband and keeping up with her two toddlers.

If you would like to contact Katy or get more involved in the NRPA YPN, Katy can be reached at or 704-821-8114.

If you are interested in being a guest author for the YPN Blog, please contact Nicole at or 919-832-5868

Tags:  leadership  leadership roles  professional development  young professionals  ypn 

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Happy New Year - 2016 Review!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 3, 2017

January 3rd, 2017


With the start of the New Year, I thought it would be fun to countdown my Top 5 Favorite NCRPA Wellness Initiative content since I joined the team in 2016.


5. November 2016 Wellness Webinar: Healthful Eating & Sharing Through Nutrition Programs

For our November wellness webinar, culinary health coach Dilip Barman joined us to discuss basics about healthy eating.  He also described classes that he has taught and ways to develop or extend a cooking and nutrition program in your department. To view a recording of Dilip’s presentation, please click this link.

4.  Wellness Blog: Online Fitness, September 2016

Who knew that the internet could be such a great resource for fitness? Instead of the traditional workout tape, fitness instructors are posting their exercises online through services like YouTube for free. In 2014, YouTube reported that their viewers watched 5,500 years of yoga videos alone.  I often use online workout videos in my apartment when I can’t make it out to a fitness center. They are a great way to try new workouts with minimal to no equipment needed. Click this link to view this blog post!

3. Wellness Blog: Produce for Concessions, September 2016

In September, the NCRPA Wellness Blog explored the idea of serving fresh produce in concession stands at your departmental events.  I attended a Durham Bulls baseball game in the summer, and The Durham Co-op Market had a booth selling fresh watermelon, berries, and grapes for affordable prices.  This concession stand vendor immediately got me thinking about the Wellness Initiative, and prompted me to share ways our departments could implement similar tactics. Click this link to view the post in its entirety.

2. Wellness Blog: Winter Fitness, December 2016


Planning recreation activities for the winter can be tough with the limitation of outdoor facilities. I enjoyed finding out about some fun ways to stay active during the winter (Including this cool interview). We’re still in the thick of the cold, so some of these ideas can still be implemented this year! Click this link to check out more!

1.  October 2016 Wellness Webinar: Get Going with Pokemon Go!

In October, Pokemon Go fever swept the nation! The wellness initiative explored some exciting content around Pokemon Go, including the wellness benefits of the popular game, and implications for parks and recreation. NCRPA Fellow Nicole Miller and I held a webinar called Get Going with Pokemon Go, where we discussed ways to make the most out of Pokemon Go in your community. Be on the lookout for another spike in the popularity of the game soon, as new features are set to be released in the coming months. To view the Get Going with Pokemon Go, visit this link!

Thank you for your support of the NCRPA Wellness Initiative content in 2016! Stay tuned for all of our 2017 content!


Until next time,

Diquan Edmonds

Tags:  ncrpa wellness  Wellness 

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Snow up The Park - Swansboro, NC

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, December 19, 2016
Updated: Monday, December 19, 2016

December 19th, 2016


Happy Holidays!


This week we will be interviewing, Anna Stanley, Program Supervisor from Swansboro Parks and Recreation. Anna will share details of  the Town of Swansboro's Snow up the Park event, a fun way to get people outside and active during the winter.   Snow up the Park turns Swansboro’s Municipal Park into a winter wonderland with slopes for sledding and a play area filled with two tons of snow. Winter themed arts & crafts and other activities for the kids are also featured.

1. How did the idea for "Snow up the Park" come about?

We actually heard an advertisement on the radio for a similar event in a town that was an hour away. We googled it and said we have to do this!


2. What activities do you offer at your "Snow up the Park" event?

Each year we try to add on different activities. We always have free winter arts and crafts for children. We have made sock snowman, wire beaded snowflakes, and Olaf snowmen (with toilet paper rolls). We hire a DJ that plays family friendly music and gets the crowd involved. We bought a penguin costume and have our mascot, Chilly.  Last year we added food vendors, which was a success. We have a small area that the company sprays snow, creating a free children’s play area. We limit it to ages 5 and under.


3. Which company do you use to provide the snow for the event? Do you partner with any other organizations when putting on this event?

Snow My Yard, out of Raleigh provides the snow, sledding ramps, and play area. The first year we partnered with the Chamber. In subsequent years we have sold sponsorships to help recoup some of the costs.


4. How do you staff this event?

All staff work the event (which is 4), Parks and Recreation Board members, town staff that volunteer, high school students earn SAT hours, and lots of volunteers.


5. Are there any especially hard logistical challenges that have come about during the planning of your event?

I would have to say our largest obstacle is our fields in the park. Anytime we have lots of rain, our fields retain water. Each year the trucks that bring in the equipment and get stuck which is difficult to pull them out. Other challenges are the lines are super long and lighting. This year we hope to eliminate by creating different types of lines; single riders and multiple riders.  The first year we had a challenge with lighting, due to the event being held in the evening. The second year we rented and borrowed large portable work lights and it helped out tremendously. This year we have moved the event to the day time.


6. What has been the biggest success of the "Snow up the Park"?

The biggest success is simple, providing unique and fun entertainment for the community. At the time, the event was unique to our community, and we do not get to see snow in our area. Even though it is not real snow, it’s fun for the kids to see.


7. When is this event? (in case anyone would like to attend!)

February 4, 12-4pm

Sledding and other traditional snow activities are actually great ways to burn calories! Offering a unique winter event similar to Swansboro’s is a great opportunity to get people active in the colder weather. To find out more information about active activities in the winter, check out our blog post on winter fitness.

Special thanks to Anna and Swansboro Parks and Recreation for sharing details about their program! If you have a cool, active, program you’d like to share, feel free to contact For more information on Snow Up the Park, check out the Town of Swansboro website!



Until next time,


Tags:  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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Fitness Trackers

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, December 12, 2016

December 12th, 2016

With the holiday season upon us, you may find yourself in the gift giving spirit. Fitness trackers are a huge item on a lot of wish lists. Even if it isn’t on a wish list, fitness trackers can help keep up with your fitness New Year’s resolutions. This wellness blog will give you some information about some of the trackers on the market, as well as how to use trackers in your workplace.

A Time Magazine article reported that one out of five Americans owns some sort of fitness tracking device. Personally, I use my Apple watch to monitor how active I am being every day. It gives me reminders to stand up, walk around, and even to breathe!

With that being said, here are five fitness trackers (in no particular order) to consider this holiday season:


1. Misfit Flash Link, $19.99:


 The Misfit Flash Link is a fitness tracker that you can clip anywhere! With an accompanying smart-phone app, this device is said to be able to track steps, cycling, yoga, dance, and a variety of different sports. It is even water resistant! Most websites have this tracker rated as a great device for entry level users. To find out more about the Misfit Flash Link and to purchase one, please visit this link


2. Fitbit Charge 2, $149.99:


 The Fitbit Charge 2 is a wearable fitness tracker - and the top seller of all the Fitbit trackers. This device monitors heart rate, tracks your movements on GPS when connected to a smartphone, and can even give personalized assessments on how your health is progressing. You can also view call, calendar, and texts alerts from the watch face! To find out more about the Fitbit Charge 2 and to order it, click this link!


3. Garmin Vivofit 3, $79.99:


 Garmin’s Vivofit 3 is a fitness tracker that comes equipped with a battery that supposedly lasts for over one year. This wearable tracker fits around your wrist, and tracks steps, calories burned, workout intensity level, and sleep. This tracker will also let you know when you are being inactive, giving you a gentle reminder to get up and walk around. To learn more about the Garmin VivoFit 3 and to purchase one, please click this link.


4. Fitbit Alta: $129.95


 The Alta is another great offering from Fitbit. This device tracks steps, calories burned, activity level, active minutes, as well as sedentary time. It also can detect when the wearer is asleep, tracking hours of sleep and sleep quality. They also offer a number of bands, allowing the style of the device to be easily changed. When connected to your smartphone, this device allows you to view your call, text, and calendar alerts. To learn more about the Fitbit Alta, click this link.


5. Mio Fuse: $99.00


 If you’re looking for durability in a fitness tracker, the Mio Fuse may be a good option. It is made out of silicon and waterproof up to 30 M. This device also keeps track of vital information like heart rate, steps and distance, calories burned, and pace of the  workout. This device connects to your smartphone and has an app that allows you to customize your own activity goals. To learn more about the Mio Fuse, check out this link.

If you work in a department where multiple people have fitness trackers, start a friendly competition amongst each other! Log basic things like steps, calories burned, and challenge each other to do more. Provide incentives for top performers with some cool prizes for their hard work. You can also look into pedometers as staff or participant incentives, to do step challenges. You can even use fitness trackers a prizes for these types of challenges.

It’s safe to say that fitness trackers are here to stay. Although having one does not automatically mean that you will become healthier, I think that the information they provide can be extremely useful. I hope this blog has given you insight on some of the available options!

Until next time,


Tags:  ncrpa wellness  Wellness 

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Winter Fitness!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, December 5, 2016

December 5th, 2016


Happy December! December brings cooler temperatures and maybe even wintry precipitation to our North Carolina forecast. Personally, I love this wintry change but know others do not share the same sentiments. Planning recreation activities for the winter can be tough with the limitation of outdoor facilities. This wellness blog will give you some fun ways to stay fit during the winter.


Cooler temperatures bring the chance for your department to try some cool and unique winter-themed programs. A number of our departments have had winter programs featuring ice skating rinks & even artificial snow. These programs are fun for a wide range of people and promote active communities.


According to Orthopedic surgeon Angela Smith from, ice skating builds muscles, boosts balance, flexibility, quickness, and agility. There’s also health benefits from playing in the snow! Both sledding and other traditional snow activities burn calories and are fun ways to get people active in the colder weather.


Artificial snow is a great option for providing the required snow when the weather’s not cooperating. Many of our departments who hold snowy events use an artificial snow company named Snow My Yard. At these events snow is usually set up on a hill for sledding, or in a field for other snow activities. Even some of our departments from the coast have success with artificial snow! If your department is located near a ski resort, establish a contact with them. You could potentially hold partner events where more people can have fun in the snow.


The winter is also a time for some of my favorite outdoor activities. Birdwatching is made a bit easier against the backdrop of bare trees. Hiking the same old trails offer exciting new views in the winter when the leaves have fallen. Check out your department trails for any neat sights that are more easily viewed when the leaves have fallen. If you discover any new sights, make sure you post photos and distribute information to let your community know!


It’s very important to stay warm while participating in outdoor activities during the winter. Unfortunately, there are some individuals who do not have the means to obtain winter coats and other clothing. In order to help alleviate this problem, try holding a department winter coat drive. If you are holding some sort of winter event, set up collection containers at the entrance gates and encourage the community to bring their used winter coats.


There are some great resources online to assist in the planning and promotion of winter coat drives. This how-to from AARP gives a step-by-step plan for establishing a coat drive.


Indoor activities also make for a great option, especially in the winter. In September, the NCRPA Wellness Blog discussed online fitness. The post has some good options for utilizing whatever small space your department may have open to conduct online guided workout classes.

Hopefully, this wellness blog has given you some tips on how to make the most out of the colder weather that winter brings. Encourage your communities to stay safe and get outside this winter!


Until next time,


Tags:  #NCRecre8  NCRPA Wellness  wellness 

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YPN Blog: December 2016

Posted By TJ McCourt, Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, Thursday, December 1, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Everything You Need to Know about Generational Differences in the Workplace (...or Not)

Are you a Millennial?

 If you are like me, you bristle at this label.

But, if you are like me, you were born between 1981 and 1997 and that means—at least according to the criteria adopted by the Pew Research Center—that you are a bona fide, card-carrying member of the Millennial generation.

Of course, you have heard this before. How could you have avoided it?

There have been innumerable articles, op-eds, blog posts, and think-pieces devoted to the apparently inscrutable task of dissecting the Millennial mind. Entire consulting firms are dedicated to the (absurdly lucrative) business of helping employers figure out who we are, what we want, and how to get us to do good work. As a Young Professional yourself, it is likely that you have been recruited as a subject matter expert on the ubiquitous question, “What do Millennials think about ______?”

What do all of those consultants, the litany of expert opinions, and your personal views have in common? They are all essentially useless in determining anything about the individuals they purport to diagnose.

Labels are convenient. Like all theoretical models of reality, they are heuristic: they can help us navigate otherwise dauntingly complex situations, providing a cognitively efficient means of reaching a conclusion without having to go through the trouble of considering all the pesky details of the real world.

Labels are also fallible. When we use heuristics, it is important to keep in mind that we are taking an intellectual short-cut, which means we risk making false assumptions or overlooking subtle truths. Hopefully, it goes without saying that there is a whole host of potential errors and downright insidious results that can follow from making assumptions about individuals based on the class or group to which we assign them.

When it comes to making assumptions about our coworkers, bosses, or employees based on when they were born, the potential consequences are mostly benign. But when we habitually rely on generational labels to tell us something we want to know about somebody else, we risk more than just reaching the wrong conclusion. We risk missing out on the opportunity to get to know somebody as an individual.

The truth is, there is no silver bullet for effectively communicating with a Baby Boomer, or for understanding the motivations of a Gen-X’er, or for managing the emotions of a Millennial.

Some people prefer e-mail, some prefer meeting face-to-face. Some people thrive on collaboration; some work better on their own. Some people can only be persuaded with data, and some will not connect with an idea unless you have a personal anecdote to back it up.

None of these details can be found on a person’s birth certificate.

The sooner we stop relying on generational platitudes to give us quick-fixes and canned answers, the sooner we can get on with the business of actually getting to know each other.

The key to succeeding in an intergenerational workplace cannot be reduced to a pithy list of truisms or a 500-word blog post. Success requires taking the time to get to know the people you work with for who they are, as individuals.

Call it old-fashioned. Call it innovative. Maybe there is not much of a difference between the two, after all.

Meet the Author

TJ McCourt is a planner with the City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources Department. He holds a B.A. and J.D. from the University of Florida as well as an M.A. in Urban Planning from Harvard University. TJ’s professional work involves analyzing the Parks Department’s goals and priorities from a systems perspective—exploring how parks, recreation, and open space fit into a broader context of city planning, community development, public health, and natural resource conservation. Personal fun-facts: TJ is an avid player of pseudo-sports (such as spikeball, pickleball, and goaltimate), regularly relies on the kindness of strangers, and isn’t really a big fan of cake.

TJ can be reached at 919-996-6079 or

If you are interested in being a guest author for the YPN Blog, please contact Nicole at or 919-832-5868

Tags:  generational differences  Millennials  NCRPA  young professionals 

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Wellness Update: November

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Here is a quick review of our wellness content from November:


First, the NCRPA Wellness blog discussed North Carolina's food insecurity issue and ways our departments can help in providing food security for all. Next, we discussed establishing partners in park prescription programs. Thanksgiving rolled around, and the blog covered some tips on how to have a healthy Thanksgiving. We finished the month with guest blogger Dr. Marissa Tomasic, a psychologist who discussed how the outdoors promote health and well-being.


November also featured an exciting new wellness webinar! Culinary health coach Dilip Barman covered basics about healthy eating and developing cooking & nutrition programs in your department. To view a recording of this webinar, please visit our NCRPA Vimeo page.


I hope that you have enjoyed the content of the NCRPA Wellness Initiative thus far!  If you would like to contribute to any wellness content in the future, we are always looking to showcase new voices. Feel free to email me at with any inquiries.


Until next time,



Tags:  wellness update 

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