Print Page | Contact Us | Sign In | Join NCRPA
The NC Recre8'er - News, Insight and Tips for Recreation and Parks Professionals
Blog Home All Blogs
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 Matt@ncrpa.net 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.

 

Search all posts for:   

 

Top tags: Wellness  NCRPA Wellness  Recreation  Healthy Living  NCRPA  parks  50at50  Health  Wellness bulletin  young professionals  healthy eating  ypn  Fitness  Health and Wellness  #Ncrecre8  Blogs  Community Gardens  Tips  NRPA  Programs  Youth Programs  Awareness  Family  Organization  Active Lifestyle  Community Building  Employee Wellness  Live Healthy  NCRecre8  #MeinMyPark 

YPN Blog: November 2017

Posted By Joseph Keel, Siler City Parks and Recreation, Thursday, November 9, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, October 18, 2017

From playing the game to leading the game

Parks and Recreation Professionals,

After graduating from Mars Hill University, I had one goal: to become a member of a professional parks and recreation agency.  After a month of interviewing, hard work and determination in finding the right fit for me, I accepted the Athletic Coordinator position with Aberdeen Parks and Recreation. It wasn’t long after being in Parks and Recreation that I decided I wanted to be a Parks and Recreation Director one day. With new career goals set, I took every advantage to learn the ins and outs of the Parks and Recreation field. I took leadership roles in the State Wide Athletics Committee (SWAC) and the NCRPA Athletics Directors Workshop (ADW). I worked closely with Aberdeen's Parks and Recreation Director to see what goes on outside of athletics. 

I attended sessions at NCRPA State Conference and ADW that directly correlated with my goal of being a Parks and Recreation Director. It was at these conferences where I heard this statement that stuck with me “You may have to go out, to go up.” Meaning I may have to leave Aberdeen to reach my goal of becoming a Parks and Recreation Director. I knew that was going to be tough, but if I ever wanted to accomplish my career goals, I had to be okay with this possibility. 

With excitement, I can say that I am now the Siler City Parks and Recreation Director. This new career path has its ups and downs though. I can tell you that it can be lonely at the top. I learned quickly that I’m not going to be everyone’s friend or make everyone happy. I am now the one who makes the big decisions that have multiple impacts. I am the one that is looked to for guidance. My phone rings every weekend and late at night with questions and concerns. I must be accessible 24 hours a day/ 7 days week, where before this wasn’t always the case.  

As an Athletic Coordinator, my primary focus was athletics. It was structured and ran like a well-oiled machine. As Parks and Recreation Director, my main focus is everything. I can’t focus on one aspect and allow others to fall by the way side. With athletics, I dealt primarily with a core group. Now I find myself in meetings and conversations with all different types of groups - all with different primary focus points. This career move was a huge jump in responsibility. I feel that this career move has matured me, not only as a park and recreation professional but as an individual.     

My advice for any parks and recreation professionals that may have a career goal of becoming a Parks and Recreation Director is to lean heavily on your supervisor. Let them know your career goals and ask them if you can take part in some of their day-to-day operations. This will let you really see what being a Parks and Recreation Director is all about. Attend conferences and learn as much as you can. Be okay with the statement “You may have to go out, to go up.” If you can do all these things and feel good about, it then GO FOR IT!!


Meet the Author

Joseph Keel was recruited in 2006 to Mars Hill University, where he became an everyday right-handed reliever out of the bullpen. He received his degree in Parks and Recreation Administration with a Minor in Business Administration in 2010. He graduated with a 3.5 GPA. After graduating, Joseph returned to the Carolina Mudcats, where he completed his internship the previous year. In July 2010, he took the Athletic Coordinator position for the Town of Aberdeen. Joseph was awarded the Young Professional Award by the NCRPA on September 15, 2016 at the Athletic Directors Workshop. In February 2017, Joseph accepted the Director of Parks and Recreation position with the Town of Siler City. Joseph enjoys playing golf, spending time at the beach, helping others and serving his church.

Joseph can be reached at jkeel@silercity.org or (919) 742-2699

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

Tags:  involvement  professional development  young professionals  ypn 

Share |
Permalink
 

YPN Blog: October 2017

Posted By Nicole Miller, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Thursday, October 5, 2017
Updated: Friday, September 22, 2017

Hey everyone! It’s hard to believe that I have worked for NCRPA for over a year. This year seems to have flown by, yet last fall feels like ages ago. I have gotten to work on a variety of projects; each of which has helped me learn and grow in some capacity as a young professional. One of those projects was to increase the activity and visibility of NCRPA’s Young Professional Network.

 NCRPA’s Young Professional Network (YPN) is comprised of young professionals and students from within NCRPA’s membership who want to give back to their communities and the field of parks and recreation while growing professionally; they are the rising leaders of this field. I was thrilled to get to make our YPN even better for them. Part of revamping the YPN was the creation of the YPN Blog in October 2016. The blog is now officially a year old, and I am excited to get to contribute again. This monthly blog discusses topics that affect young professionals, and a different young professional writes the post each month. The blog provides an outlet for future leaders to share their voice and experiences with professionals from across the state and allows them to write about a topic for which they have a passion. As I said before, each project that I’ve worked on at NCRPA has taught me something, and I can wholeheartedly say that the Young Professional Blog is the gift that keeps on giving in that regard – I get to learn something new with each new blog post.

 If you’ve missed any of the blog posts, I highly suggest taking the time to go back and read them. They are interesting and insightful, and, as I said before, full of useful advice and information that can help make you a better professional. You can check out any of the blog posts at the links below, and they are always available on NCRPA’s NC Recre8’er blog.

 October 2016 – Transition from full-time student to full-time employee: Nicole Miller, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association

 November 2016 – Benefits of getting involved with NCRPA as a young professional: Jared Mull, Transylvania County Parks and Recreation

 December 2016 – Navigating generational differences in the workplace: TJ McCourt, Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources

 January 2017 – Taking on leadership roles as a young professional: Katy Keller, Indian Trail Parks and Recreation

 February 2017 – The importance of internships: Vicky Harley, Kernersville Parks and Recreation

 March 2017 – Parks and Recreation-“Leading through Innovation”: Eliza Kiser, Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources

 April 2017 – Embracing public speaking and overcoming nerves: Leanne Pressley, Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks

 May 2017 – Getting involved in your community outside of work: Laura Rice, Henderson County Parks and Recreation

June 2017 – Importance of part-time work in advancing your career: Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association

July 2017 – From Youth Council member to Youth Council Director: Jasia Stevenson, Greensboro Parks and Recreation

August 2017 – Being involved with NCRPA as a student and career development: Jennifer Games, Hickory Parks and Recreation

Even if you think that one of the blogs doesn’t apply to you personally, share it with your peers and team members, so they can benefit from it. As you can see, these blogs are written by a variety of people with diverse of passions, personalities, and interests, but they all have one thing in common: a desire to succeed in and contribute to the field of parks and recreation.

Want to share your passion, experience, or expertise with your peers by writing a YPN Blog post? Reach out to me, and let’s make it happen.


Meet the Author

Nicole joined NCRPA in 2016, relocating from Atlanta, GA. She graduated from Elon University with a Bachelor’s degree in Sport and Event Management, with Minors in Business Administration and Psychology. She has previously worked for Graham Recreation and Parks as an Athletics Intern during her time at Elon, and she interned for the Burlington Royals Minor League Baseball team in summer 2015. In her free time, Nicole volunteers with the SPCA of Wake County, is involved with the Triangle Civitan Club, and keeps the local Bruegger’s Bagels in business (one everything bagel and iced coffee please!).

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

Tags:  blog  ncrpa  young professionals  ypn 

Share |
Permalink
 

YPN Blog: August 2017

Posted By Jennifer Games, Hickory Parks and Recreation, Thursday, August 3, 2017
Updated: Monday, July 31, 2017

How NCRPA Helped Shape My Career

Hey Everyone,

I am Jennifer Games, and I work for Hickory Parks and Recreation Department as a Recreation Programmer and AFAA Certified Group Exercise Instructor. I would like to take the time to express how amazing NCRPA is, and why I am so glad to be a part of an awesome organization. I have been a member of NCRPA since 2012, my freshman year in college. I attended every NCRPA conference I had the opportunity to go to. I made it a point to meet someone new every time I attended a conference. There are so many knowledgeable professionals in Parks and Recreation, and attending conferences is a great way to meet them.

As a student, the conferences were so beneficial to me. I was able to go to sessions I was interested in, as well as learn more about the trends in Parks and Recreation. At each session I was able to learn new things, talk to other students about their experiences, network, and get insight as to how other departments operate. My dad is the Director for Craven County Recreation Department, so recreation became a huge part of my life growing up. I would see how happy my dad was, and I knew then that I wanted to make a positive difference in the community through my own career in Parks and Recreation. With that being said, I am very familiar with how my dad’s department operates, but I was very interested to find out what other departments offered.

I will never forget the NCRPA Joint Conference in Myrtle Beach that I attended during my senior year in college. Tom O’Rourke was the Key Note speaker for the college students. He was so inspirational and taught me so much about becoming a young professional. Tom O’Rourke gave us tools to use when applying for jobs as well as how to differentiate ourselves in a professional manner. As a young professional, these conferences have helped me implement new program ideas as well as provide opportunities for me to talk to other professionals on the programs they offer.

Another great opportunity I took advantage of as a student was being a part of the NCRPA Professional Development Committee. The committee was created to discuss, and design the description for the new Professional Development board position for NCRPA. It was a great experience being a part of a NCRPA Committee. I really felt like I was making a difference. I was able to gain a lot of knowledge and experience I may not have acquired in the classroom. Being on the Professional Development committee also helped me network and gain more experience in team work. 

Overall, I owe a huge thank you to all of the staff members of NCRPA, committee members, session leaders, keynote speakers, and all of the helpful professionals in our field. NCRPA, my professors from East Carolina University, and my parents helped shape me to the young professional I am today. I was very fortunate to be able to get a job in recreation two weeks after graduation. I really feel that if I was not a part of NCRPA it would have been more difficult to find a great job so quickly. My advice to all other young professionals is to take every opportunity to be involved in NCRPA and strive to make a positive difference within your community.


Meet the Author

Jennifer Games works for Hickory Parks and Recreation Department as a Recreation Programmer and AFAA Certified Group Exercise Instructor. Her father, Eddie Games, is the director of Craven County Parks and Recreation Department, so she grew up with knowledge of recreation. Jennifer attended college at East Carolina University and recently graduated in May of 2016 with a B.S Degree in Parks and Recreation with a concentration in Sports Leadership. She rode on the Equestrian team for ECU, played intramural volleyball, and was involved in the Recreation and Park Management club. She enjoys being outside, riding horses, hiking, playing volleyball, meeting new people, going to the beach, spending time with friends and family, and loves helping people.

Jennifer can be reached at jgames@hickorync.gov or 828-261-2258.

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

Tags:  involvement  NCRPA  student  young professionals  ypn 

Share |
Permalink
 

YPN Blog: July 2017

Posted By Jasia Stevenson, Greensboro Parks and Recreation, Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Updated: Friday, June 30, 2017

I’m always a little caught off guard when strangers ask me, “What park do you work at?” Initially, it’s because I’m trying to figure what prompted them to ask. Usually it’s a Greensboro Parks and Recreation shirt or City badge that I forget I’m wearing. Secondly, I am shocked by the question, “What park do you work at?” As if parks and recreation is ONLY parks. As professionals in the field know, we offer so much more to the community.

After my shock and awe wears off, I normally respond, “We do have great parks in this area, but I don’t work at one.” This usually leads to them asking, “Well what do you do?” Here’s the part I love: an opportunity to speak about what I do.

In an effort to not hold up a line at Walgreens, I’ve prepared a quick 15 second response that sums up the organization I work for, what we offer, and why I enjoying doing it. My spiel goes like this: “I’m the Director of the Greensboro Youth Council, an organization that provides leadership and volunteer opportunities for high school students in the community. It’s a unique program for teens, and I enjoy seeing their development through service to the community.” Easy enough.

Some people end it there. Others ask follow up questions that result in me doing one of the following:

  • Educate: Tell them about how diverse our department is, from the traditional programs such as athletics and summer camps to arts and programming specifically for teens and seniors.
  • Invite: If there’s an upcoming event I can promote, I do it! It’s an opportunity for them to see me, Parks and Recreation, and their tax dollars in action.
  • Recruit: In Greensboro, we rely on volunteer support for many of our programs. I like to invite them to serve the community with me. If it’s a student, I discuss internships or give them my contact info.

You are one of the biggest advocates and marketing tools for your organization. Create a spiel you can remember and recite. Be knowledgeable about what is going on in your department.

Don’t be afraid to talk and brag a little about the amazing work you do!


Meet the Author

Jasia Stevenson works for the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department as the Director of the Greensboro Youth Council, an organization she was involved in as a high school student. She started college majoring in Chemistry with a Pre-Pharmacy focus. After her first year, she realized this wasn’t where she saw herself or her career and changed her major to Parks and Recreation that summer. Jasia graduated from UNC-Greensboro in 2006 and has worked at the YWCA, a recreation center, and moved up through GYC to her current role. She enjoys aspects of training and development and implementing them in fun, creative ways. When she is not working, Jasia enjoys music, baking, and spending time with family.

Jasia can be reached at jasia.stevenson@greensboro-nc.gov or 336-373-2734.

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

Tags:  young professionals  youth council  ypn 

Share |
Permalink
 

YPN Blog: June 2017

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Thursday, June 8, 2017
Updated: Monday, May 22, 2017

From first-hand experience, finding a job after graduating from college can be extremely tough. The up’s and down’s of the job search can be relentless at times. For a young professional trying to make their way into the field, it’s important to keep a level head. In this month’s edition of the YPN blog, I will share my journey to this point in my career and the impact that part-time work has had on me.


I graduated from North Carolina State University in May 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Sport Management. During my time at NC State, I grew increasingly interested in working in parks and recreation. Although I was not sure in what capacity, I knew that parks and recreation would allow me to make a difference in the lives of people in my community. In 2014, I got my first taste of working in parks and recreation when I accepted a position as a Community Center Aide with the Town of Cary.


After graduation, I was not sure what my next move would be. I really enjoyed my position with the Town of Cary, but the part-time job limitation would not be enough to sustain myself. I began relentlessly searching and applying for jobs. I came close to snagging a few full-time positions, but ultimately nothing panned out.


At this point in my search, it had been three months. I spoke with different mentors in the field, and they all encouraged me to start applying for additional part-time jobs. At first, I had mixed feelings about this approach - but ultimately decided it was the best move for my future. In August 2015, I accepted a position as an Athletic Specialist with the City of Durham.


September rolled around, and I had two part-time jobs, working 5-10 hours a week at both. Since I had some free nights, I decided to look for another part-time job (In addition to the relentless search for full-time work!). In mid-September, I was hired by the Town of Morrisville as an Athletic Field Supervisor, where I oversaw a variety of different sports.


I worked three part-time jobs until January 2016, and I absolutely loved the experience. I spent less time at home stressing about finding permanent employment, and more time out impacting communities and strengthening my work experience. I received a promotion from my job with Durham Parks and Recreation and settled into a new role with the Town of Cary. Because of the nature of local municipality athletic and recreation events, most of my nights and weekends were booked. I spent days searching for permanent employment, and nights and weekends working my collection of part-time jobs.


It then dawned on me that since most of my days were relatively uneventful, I could search for yet another part-time job - but one that offered daytime hours. I reached out to local track-out camps in my area and found XL Sports World - a commercial recreation facility that offered multi-sports camps.


By the end of January, I worked most of my weekdays at XL Sports World as a camp coach, and weeknights and weekends at some combination of my positions with the Towns of Cary & Morrisville, and the City of Durham.


Although juggling all of these positions at once made for very difficult scheduling, I settled into a routine. I was proud of myself for making the most out of my situation by examining my schedule and turning unused time into opportunities for community and professional growth.


I continued juggling my positions until August when I accepted my role as the Wellness Assistant here with NCRPA. This role was a great opportunity for a number of reasons: the chance to impact recreation and park departments throughout the entire state, a 20 hour a week position with daytime hours, and the potential for growth. It even allowed me to keep my other part-time roles, which really interested me.


These roles allowed me to be in different settings doing multiple tasks. I have learned the inner-workings of multiple agencies, allowing me to diversify my skillset. Additionally, I have really enjoyed connecting with the children and participants in the multiple programs I have been involved with.


It is safe to say that without my part-time work experience, I would not be in the position I am in today. My supervisors from my jobs became my best advocates, and the advice and experience they provided me were invaluable.


If you are a young professional looking to start or advance a career in recreation and parks, I would highly suggest looking into part-time work. Put your best foot forward and make an effort to establish connections in the community. Although the grind of part-time scheduling can be tough at times, it is often the best way to break into the industry and gain valuable connections along the way.


 Meet the Author

 

Diquan joined NCRPA as the Wellness Assistant in 2016 and is a native of Absecon, New Jersey. He graduated from North Carolina State University in 2015 with an undergraduate degree in Sport Management. Prior to joining the staff at NCRPA, he has worked various part-time jobs with municipalities in the Triangle Area. Diquan resides in Durham, NC and enjoys playing and watching sports, hiking, the great outdoors, and spending time with friends and family in his spare time.

 

 Diquan can be reached at diquan@ncrpa.net or 919-832-5868.

 

 

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


Tags:  part-time jobs  young professionals  ypn 

Share |
Permalink
 

YPN Blog: May 2017

Posted By Laura Rice, Henderson County Parks and Recreation, Monday, May 1, 2017

Working in the public service setting can make it difficult to find ways outside of work to connect and be involved with the community. As recreation providers, we are often in the midst of community events and programs, which can make it feel like we are extremely tied into all the happenings within our towns and cities, despite a whole new world of areas to explore outside of the circles we frequent.

Luckily, I find myself involved with many community projects within the scope of my job as a Recreation Program Supervisor in Henderson County, which is exciting but comes with a few downsides. As I’m sure many of you can relate, the demands on our time and energy in public service sometimes leave us without the time or energy to be involved in the community outside of work hours. Those very unique work hours we keep (“we work when you play!”) can conflict with projects that we would otherwise eagerly jump into.

As I’ve found my rhythm and groove in my position and settled into the demands on my time, there are a few ways I’ve found to be more involved within my community, network, and reach beyond the sometimes seemingly all-encompassing world of public recreation:

- Local leadership course: Here in Henderson County there is a program called Vision Henderson County that exposes participants to the history, culture, commerce, and general make-up of the area. From visiting the local history museum and hearing stories of Main Street fires to touring an innovative plant grafting facility, I’ve learned more about my community in the past 9 months than in all the years spent growing up here. Plus I’ve met a lot of really interesting people and developed relationships with other professionals from a wide range of sectors.

- Find your local young professionals meet-up: It can be a little intimating going to a new meet-up group but with the support of a friend or co-worker it’s easy to jump in! These events are usually designed to be low stress, fun, and informative, plus many offer an opportunity to plug what you do and any upcoming fun your department has planned.

- See what local committees have vacancies:  Is there a wellness committee or walk/bike planning committee that you could serve on? Perhaps there are ways to integrate recreation resources and support, and it provides an avenue to reach out to other departments. For example, our department has representation in our local healthy living committee, juvenile crime prevention council, and Special Needs Olympics committee.

- Check the local college for seminars or special conferences: Many community colleges or universities offer continuing professional development or small business support. It can be easy to overlook these resources since public government is run much differently, but they usually offer courses on social media, marketing on a budget, leadership development courses, and more. Plus it provides another opportunity to connect with local business owners and expand who you know!

- Keep an eye out for work trainings or seminars through other departments such as Human Resources, the library, or the health department. Even if it doesn’t directly relate to what you are doing now, it may in the future, or may help you get a bigger picture of your community.

- Connect with the local Chamber of Commerce for after work events, networking, and professional support groups. They can also make great partners for future programs!

- Check out the local Tourism Development Authority. Our TDA hosts Tourism After 5 each month at different locations around the county that are always fun, interesting, and help you explore where you live.

- Finally, always make time for fun! Join a local recreation club, sport league, or team. Make sure to keep fueling your energy, interests, and passions outside of work hours!

There are so many different ways to learn about where you live, work, and play. Don’t try to do it all at once, but keep an eye out for new ways to connect and be involved outside of your official position in your city or county, and who knows who you’ll meet or what you’ll find!


Meet the Author

Laura Rice works for Henderson County Parks & Recreation Department as a Recreation Program Supervisor overseeing the Recreation Youth Soccer Program. After spending high school working as a soccer referee she found her calling in public recreation and attended Mars Hill College for her undergrad and completed the NCSU Online Parks, Recreation, & Tourism Management program in 2015 for her master’s. Outside of youth sports, community programs, and continuing to learn as much as she can about just about everything, Laura is a competitive cyclist, competing in cyclo-cross and other cycling events.

Laura can be reached at lrice@hendersoncountync.org or 828-697-4885.

 

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

Tags:  community involvement  young professionals  ypn 

Share |
Permalink
 

YPN Blog: April 2017

Posted By Leanne Pressley, Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks, Friday, March 31, 2017

Speak about it! The Importance of Public Speaking

We all have had that moment when we were told or asked to present in front of others. So many questions come up:

  1. What topic(s) do I discuss?
  2. What do I wear?
  3. How long do I have to present?
  4. What is the setting I will be presenting in?

See, blog writing is easy; it does not involve the average person’s public speaking fears. We have the opportunity to address people from behind a computer screen. Don’t worry about what to wear. For all we know you could be writing this in the comfort of your home in your Power Ranger Pajamas - no judgments!  (The new movie looks good, but it sure can’t beat the original. GO, GO Power Rangers!) No worrying about how long or short to write about the topic of discussion. Remember the old build a burger trick?

  1. Bun: Topic Sentence (No need to get fancy with a brioche bun, an original sesame is just fine)
  2. Toppings: Supporting Sentence 1 (The classics)
  3. Meat : Supporting Sentence 2 (Veggie Patty)
  4. Toppings: Supporting Sentence 3 (Because we just can’t get enough of the good stuff)
  5. Bun: Conclusion sentence

See, no fears. Everyone likes a hamburger, and, oh yeah, you also made a dynamite paragraph for your topic of discussion.

Public Speaking can be nerve wracking, fearful, and can make a person feel judged, but the benefits of public speaking are rewarding, educational, and enlightening. If you feel stuck in a rut and can’t decide on what to speak about, no worries, here are some great ideas!

  1. Programming
  2. Internships
  3. Leadership experience
  4. Advancement in your professional career
  5. Community Involvement and Safety
  6. Fundraising
  7. Networking

In need of a setting to present?  I am so glad you asked!

  1. Your Alma Mater: There is no better feeling than walking through the doors that pioneered the way to your future.
  2. Conferences, and not just for the CEU’s, but also for networking with other professionals in your field of expertise or where you see yourself in the future.
  3. Webinars: Remember you are the voice behind the screen.
  4. In house with your department: This is a great place to start, by practicing with co-workers and speaking at staff meetings.

I had the opportunity to speak at my Alma Mater on March 29th. I admit I was nervous, scared, and even felt like I was going to pass out, but I had the chance to tell my story and what I love to do every day as a Senior Recreation Leader. That was all the fuel I needed to start my fire. I had the most common human moment, saying the word “um,” but I remained focused and continued to cover my topics.

Public speaking can be scary, but it can also be an opportunity to shine and inform the world about who you are, what you do, and prepare the next generation of young professionals to rise up. And hey, if all else fails, imagine everyone in their underwear!


Meet the Author

Leanne Pressley is a 28 year old Greensboro Native who works as a Senior Recreation Leader with the Special Populations Unit for the City of Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks Department. She graduated from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2014 with a B.S Degree in Recreation and Parks with a concentration in Community Therapeutic Studies. She is a Certified and Licensed Recreational Therapist in the State of North Carolina.  She is a very creative thinker and writer. She enjoys everything about nature and loves food.

Leanne can be reached at leannep@cityofws.org or 336-727-2423.

 

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

Tags:  public speaking  young professionals  ypn 

Share |
Permalink
 

YPN Blog: March 2017

Posted By Eliza Kiser, Pullen Arts Center Director with Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Updated: Thursday, March 2, 2017

Leading Through Innovation As Young Professionals

As a child, I loved school, but I definitely fell victim to one of the trappings of performance-based academic systems; the perfectionist inside of me took over, and finding the “right” answer became the force that drove me. As I grew up and went out of the school system and into the world on my own, I struggled to make sense of my place in a messy world where there are so few right answers.

I’ll admit, the first gray hair I found a couple of years ago now has a few friends, and, with seven years in Parks and Recreation, I’m not as young a professional as I used to be. Still, it was a privilege for me to attend the NCRPA State Conference in October through the Young Professional Fellowship Program. It was my first NCRPA Conference, and I somehow got both myself and my inner perfectionist in with one conference badge! As an arts person in parks and recreation, sometimes I still struggle to make sense of my place in the profession. At the NCRPA Conference, I was again reminded of how wonderful the struggle to find your place can be, and I value the opportunity to share with you some of the questions and ideas that were sparked for me at the conference.

2016’s conference theme of “Leading Through Innovation” was a nod to both the excellent programs highlighted during sessions and the outstanding professionals that are making them happen. The further I get from the conference, though, the more I see the statement as something bigger with more important implications.

Leading through innovation is a concept for us to embrace as young professionals not only in the ways that we carry it back to our cities and towns, but also in the ways that we approach finding our places in the profession.

Our profession has been around for generations and each day I’m grateful for and reliant on the work that has come before me.  As a young professional, how can I honor the legacy of our profession, learn from where we have been, and remain relevant in a changing world? How do I find the balance between stewardship and entrepreneurship that is key in our profession?

I think the answer lies in each of us.

From where I stand at the intersection of being a young professional and having some experience under my belt, the best thing about being a young professional is the gift of not having your path set for you yet. At this intersection, there’s plenty of room for innovation, not only in the realm of programming, but also in the ways that you can develop as a professional. Embracing the struggle to find your place can force you to ask questions about yourself and your goals that an easy, clear path might never force you to ask.

At the conference, Dr. Deb Jordan presented a session on program evaluation entitled “What we do: does it matter?” The more I’ve thought about Dr. Jordan’s concepts and best practices for program evaluation, the more I’ve come to think they could be interesting tools for a different type of evaluation. What if we began leading through innovation by taking an innovative approach to our professional development? What if we used these tools to evaluate and map our own professional growth? What if these were the questions we thought through as asked for guidance from our supervisors and mentors on our journey toward leading through innovation?

Here are Dr. Jordan’s program evaluation tips that I’m going to use as tools for my designing my own professional development:

Don’t ask questions if:
You already know the information.
You’re not going to use the information.
The information won’t matter.
You can’t do anything about it.


Know:
Why are you asking the question?
Will potential answers tell you what you want to know?
Will you get enough information to be able to make a decision and take action?
How are you going to analyze the responses?

As young professionals, are we asking the questions we need to figure out where we are, where we want to go, and how to get there? Are we asking enough questions of ourselves and our line of work?

In her conference keynote, Dr. Maureen Dougherty defined innovation as empowerment plus creativity. As young professionals trying to develop and lead through innovation, how can we seek empowerment from our leadership and how can we prepare to give empowerment as a gift to the next generation of professionals? What would happen if we set goals and performance measures for our own ability to empower the people we lead? What would happen if we set goals and performance measures for our own creativity as leaders and as public servants?

As stewards of public resources, we have to strive for efficiency and performance, and, especially as a young professional, it’s easy to put your full effort into trying to find the “right” way to handle the messy business of serving human beings. In pursuit of a “right” way to serve our communities, are we getting stuck in the weeds and missing the big picture? Are we trying so hard to find the “right” answer that we sometimes fail to realize that the question has changed? Do we think too much about our profession and not enough about the world that’s changing around us? Where’s the right balancing point?

As young professionals, we have choices.  Will we stick to trying to find “right” answers?  Or will we embrace our messy world and its lack of right answers and do our best to serve by growing and developing ourselves as leaders through innovation?  What impact will our choice have on our profession and all of the young professionals who come after us?

I can’t wait to find out.


Meet the Author

Raised on a farm in rural NC, Eliza Kiser graduated from NC State University’s College of Design and started her career working as a project manager at an exhibit design firm. Eliza was born a public servant but took a winding road to find herself today serving artists of all ages as Director of Pullen Arts Center for Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources. A child who loved playing with blocks, Eliza continues to enjoy trying to put ideas, people, tools, and resources together in new ways to build cool stuff.

Eliza can be reached at eliza.kiser@raleighnc.gov or 919-996-6126.

 

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

Tags:  conference  innovation  leadership  young professionals  ypn 

Share |
Permalink
 

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 vharley@toknc.com or 336-996-3062x3.

 

If you are interested in being a guest author for the YPN Blog, please contact Nicole at nicole@ncpra.net 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 www.ncrpa.net/interns

Tags:  intern  internship  internships  young professionals  ypn 

Share |
Permalink
 

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 kkeller@admin.indiantrail.org or 704-821-8114.

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

Tags:  leadership  leadership roles  professional development  young professionals  ypn 

Share |
Permalink
 

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 thomas.mccourt@raleighnc.gov

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

Tags:  generational differences  Millennials  NCRPA  young professionals 

Share |
Permalink
 

YPN Blog: November 2016

Posted By Jared Mull, Transylvania County Parks and Recreation, Thursday, November 3, 2016
Updated: Friday, October 21, 2016

Hello, Young Professionals!

My name is Jared Mull, and I am a Recreation Manager with Transylvania County. I am the guest blogger for the November installment of the Young Professionals Blog. My post will discuss getting involved with the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association (NCRPA).

NCRPA has been a part of my life since I entered the parks and recreation field full-time in 2010.  I was fortunate to begin my work with the City of Kannapolis, which had leadership that believed in the value of NCRPA and being involved as much as possible.  I talk about me being fortunate because finding a department that believes in professional development and NCRPA will help make gaining their support of you being involved with the Association much easier.

Why Be Involved?

1.  You get to learn and network with the best.  Take a look at who is on the board and who holds different leadership roles within NCRPA, and you’ll quickly see that these are typically executive management professionals with a genuine passion for what they do.  They are the best at what they do and getting to spend time working with them will only make you better.

2.  Let’s be honest…your resume likely looks like every other young professional's resume.  You have a Bachelor’s degree, possibly a Master’s degree, an internship, and you’re likely just starting your first full-time job.  What are you doing that will separate you from other young professionals that may apply for the next job that you want?  Adding NCRPA volunteer experience to your resume and holding different leadership positions will not only enhance your resume but will give you an edge over your peers.  NCRPA allows you to take on leadership roles that you likely aren’t getting with your current job if you are not yet at a supervisor level.

How to Be Involved

There are several ways to get involved with NCRPA.  I started out just attending region meetings and other NCRPA functions, so I could get a feel for what it is all about and see if it was something that I was interested in.  I’ll definitely forget some ways to be involved, but below are some ideas for young professionals that are looking to get their feet wet with NCRPA:

  • Present at a state conference.  I realize that for some of you this may take you out of your comfort zone, but you get to speak on an area of parks and recreation that you are passionate and knowledgeable about.  I presented on fantasy football impacting parks and recreation back in 2012, and I didn’t get booted off the stage so you have nothing to worry about!
  • Be a room host at state conference. 
  • Join NRPA and NCRPA Young Professional Network.  If it is something that you enjoy, try to then take a leadership position within the network.
  • Volunteer and nominate yourself to be on a NCRPA committee.
  • Region involvement.  I’m a big proponent of work that can be done within your geographic region.  Strive to be an active member in the region through attending meetings, networking events, and improving communication.
  • Contact NCRPA.  Let Michelle, Matt, and Wanda know some of your interests and time availability, and they will likely have some type of way for you to be involved.

Ultimately, you are the only one that chooses your personal and professional goals for your career.  If you are looking for ways to grow as a young professional and separate yourself from your peers, I can think of no better way to do so than to start getting involved with NCRPA.


 Meet the Author

Jared Mull is a Recreation Manager with Transylvania County Parks and Recreation. Jared was born and raised in Brevard, NC and received his B.S. degree in Recreation from Southern Wesleyan University and M.S. degree in Recreation Management from High Point University. Jared has previously worked for the City of Kannapolis and Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation in various roles. Jared is responsible for the management of the recreation division including budget, athletics, special events, recreation programs, contracted instructors, and strategic planning. Some of Jared’s favorite things are: Food – Mexican, Hobby - Fantasy football and lifting weights, and spending time with his wife Jennifer and two boxers Max & Molly.

 Jared can be reached at 828-884-3156 or jared.mull@transylvaniacounty.org

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

Tags:  involvement  NCRPA  young professionals 

Share |
Permalink
 

YPN Blog: October 2016

Posted By Nicole Miller, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Thursday, October 13, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hello Young Professionals!

My name is Nicole Miller, and I am the NCRPA Fellow. I am excited to share the first installment of the NCRPA Young Professionals Network Blog with you! This blog will feature a new post from a different young professional each month, and topics will include all things relevant to being a young professional in the field of parks and recreation.

This post will cover a topic that is currently very relevant for me: the transition from being a full-time student to being a full-time professional. Trading in your cap and gown for a suit and tie is a big change, one that personally took me several months to fully accept. Even though I graduated in May, it was not until August when reality really struck me. I was heading into my first day of work while students were heading back to campus for another year of school. There was no denying it; I was officially a young professional.

I have been working with NCRPA for about two months now, and as you can see from the picture, not much seems to have changed. However, the following are aspects of this transition that I have found the most noteworthy.

  • You are no longer the big man on campus (or in the workplace). You are now the newest employee in your office and have a lot to learn, both about your position and the office environment. Act accordingly, be respectful, and do not be afraid to ask for help from a veteran employee if you need it.

  • There is no syllabus. In school, every assignment and project had specific instructions and guidelines to follow. However, as a professional, you will often be assigned a project that does not have every little detail laid out for you. This is your opportunity to prove yourself and show your employer that they made the right decision hiring you.

  • Your performance is no longer just a reflection of yourself. If you do not complete a project, you do not just run the risk of receiving a bad grade or failing, rather you run the risk of being let go. At school, poor performance only hurt you, but on the job, your poor performance can harm the organization. Your actions and behaviors are a direct reflection of your organization.

  • It is up to you to make the most of the opportunities provided to you. This is one of the main similarities between professional life and academic life. You are given countless opportunities to get more involved, network with peers, take on new roles. However, it was not your professor’s job to make you take advantage of these opportunities, just like it is not your boss’s job. Put yourself out there; it can only make you better.

  • Your life outside of the office makes a difference. Take time for yourself outside of work. Exercise, relax, enjoy life. Learn how to focus on yourself in the real world.

Overall, with a few simple changes in my mindset (and several more substantial changes to my sleep schedule), the transition has gone smoothly, and I am settling into work here at NCRPA. I am excited to continue my journey as a professional and to continue learning along the way!

Be sure to be on the lookout for the November edition of the Young Professionals Network Blog! If you’re interested in being a guest blogger or just have a great topic idea, email me at nicole@ncrpa.net. We are always looking for more young professionals to contribute to the blog. 

Don’t forget to check NCRPA YPN webpage for all of the latest YPN events and information!



Tags:  college  student  young professionals 

Share |
Permalink