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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 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.

 

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YPN Blog: April 2018

Posted By KP Kilpatrick, Wake Forest Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, Thursday, April 5, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Did you know April is National Volunteer Month? A 2012 Huffington Post article highlights that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 64 million people volunteered at least once between September 2010 and September 2011. The Corporation for National and Community Service says it has collectively dedicated 8.1 billion hours to a wide variety of organizations. That donated time and expertise is valued at $173 billion. Volunteers are essential to organizations of all shapes and sizes, and, as young professionals, we often have the opportunity to either volunteer ourselves or lead volunteers at our organizations.

Volunteering opportunities offered by local Parks & Recreation Departments help connect the departments to the surrounding communities. When citizens volunteer their time, it helps enhance the support needed to make recreation and athletic programs operate successfully. Whether it’s a coach, a dance instructor, a referee, or a tutor—volunteers truly help your department thrive. Volunteers can also help you with strategic planning. They help by providing feedback and offering new ideas. Additionally, volunteers help grow the amount of participants in each of your programs. Most volunteers may have children or family members that want to partake in leisure activities. As you know, “word of mouth” is the one of the best and free marketing tools! Also, when people volunteer it empowers them and gives them a sense of accomplishment. Volunteering allows people to give back to their community and support a great cause. Recognizing volunteers for their participation through an awards banquet or luncheon is an awesome concept to keep them committed to their role. Without volunteers, several programs operated by local Parks & Recreation Departments, specifically ones with small budgets, wouldn’t be able to happen due to lack of manpower. Volunteerism and Parks & Recreation go hand-in-hand and will always be a useful concept to help your community thrive!

So this April make sure you thank the great volunteers who support your department or take some time to give back and volunteer yourself.

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Did you know that volunteers with your department are eligible to become members of Local Government Federal Credit Union and get the NCRPA Visa® Check Card? This card was created exclusively for volunteers and employees of parks and recreation departments across North Carolina.

Each time you use your NCRPA Visa® Check Card, LGFCU donates 50 percent of its share of the net merchant's fee directly to programs sponsored by NCRPA. Money generated by using the debit card helps fund scholarships and professional development opportunities for NCRPA members, marketing efforts for the profession, and local community projects.

Learn more here: https://www.lgfcu.org/products/debit-and-gift-cards/ncrpa-debit-card


Meet the Author

Fontae “KP” Kilpatrick, originally from Kinston, NC, obtained his Bachelor's in Recreation Administration from North Carolina A&T State University and his Masters in Sports Management from Middle Tennessee State University. KP has worked for the City of Lexington as the Athletic Director and City of Thomasville as the Recreation Center Director. He is currently the Athletics Program Coordinator for the Town of Wake Forest. KP is also a member of the Local Government Federal Credit Union Advisory Council and a previous member on the Davidson County Parks and Recreation Commission. KP resides in Raleigh with his wife, Jazmine, and their three-year-old son, Harlan.

KP can be reached at fkilpatrick@wakeforestnc.gov or 919-435-9457.



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:  community involvement  lgfcu  volunteer month  volunteers  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: March 2018

Posted By Kristen Herndon, Graham Recreation and Parks, Thursday, March 1, 2018
Updated: Monday, February 26, 2018

Benefits of furthering your education

It can never hurt to acquire more information and knowledge about your profession. The benefits of understanding what trends are emerging in today’s parks and recreation field are numerous! The constantly evolving field can really keep you on your toes and comprehending these changes will make it easier by furthering your education and skills. This doesn’t necessarily mean going back to school. Professional development and expanded education incorporates numerous facilitated learning opportunities, from college degree programs, to conferences, workshops, and informal learning opportunities.

A degree in the field is the first step to becoming a valuable member of a department. While it hasn’t always been the case, today’s entry level leisure services professional often has a college degree in parks and recreation or a related field. Whether you’re headed back to obtain an undergraduate or graduate degree, there are over 80 programs that are accredited by the NRPA.  While obtaining my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I expanded my practical experience through independent studies and internships, obtaining career preparation outside the classroom. The hands-on experience provided me with the opportunity to gain skills and knowledge to perform the tasks associated with working in the profession, such as risk management, programming, staff supervision, maintenance, budgeting, and management.

Continuing your education can open many career opportunities. Numerous professionals choose to engage in continuing education so they can further build competencies and facilitate career advancement. While in graduate school, I paid for the CPRP, CPO and First Aid Instructor courses and exams out of my own pocket so I could not only have a leg up on the competition but also could show that I was dedicated to the field and wanted to continue learning. If you become a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional or Executive, you will want to attend workshops and conferences to earn continuing education units. Sessions cover a variety of topics relevant to today’s profession and can focus on specific topics that professionals may seek assistance in. With the upgraded skills and knowledge that you will acquire through these sessions, you can improve your chances of a better position within the department you work for.  On the other hand, if there is no growth potential within your current job, then at least you will be improving your resume for your next career move.

One the greatest benefits of continuing your education is that it allows you meet other adults with like-minded ambitions and goals. Taking a course at a local college or training institution can help to expand your professional network. Both Appalachian State and UNCG assisted me in immersing myself into the field. Through independent studies, internships, mentors and their contacts, I met many professionals in the field.  This diverse network of contacts was very beneficial, as well as the experience and supporters I gained along the way. Conferences and workshops give you the opportunity to meet hundreds of other professionals in your field that you can interact and collaborate with too. With each annual state conference I attend, I look forward to seeing old friends, professors and colleagues, and love to pick their brains and catch up on what they are doing in parks and recreation. One of the easiest ways to network is becoming a member of NCRPA and NRPA.  The weekly emails and magazines really immerse you in all things parks and recreation and keep you informed about the newest trends, conferences, workshops, grant opportunities, and job openings.

You truly get out of your career what you put into it, and engaging yourself in the parks and recreation field can assist you in broadening your career opportunities, expanding your earning potential and help you accept opportunities with greater responsibility.  Set yourself up for a successful and purposeful career by involving yourself with particular organizations and professionals. Whether you go back for a degree, obtain a certification or just brush up your skills, you are doing not only yourself a favor but also strengthening the department you work for and the parks and recreation field as a whole. As mentioned before, NRPA and NCRPA are always great places to start, but if you want any further tips or assistance, feel free to reach out!


Meet the Author

Kristen Herndon is a Program Supervisor for Graham Recreation and Parks Department.  She started her recreation career over 14 years ago as a camp counselor in high school and continued into college as a rafting, caving and hiking guide in the summer and a snowboard instructor in the winter.  Subsequently graduating from Appalachian State University with a B.S. degree in Commercial Recreation, Kristen moved out west to manage a whitewater rafting company. After four years of chasing water, she moved back to NC to attend graduate school at UNC Greensboro, obtaining her master’s degree in Community Recreation.  She went on to become an Assistant Director of Student Activities at HPU, followed by becoming the Brand Ambassador for the U.S. National Whitewater Center, and then settling back into government parks and recreation with the City of Graham roughly 3 years ago.  When she’s not working, Kristen enjoys hiking, paddle boarding & spending time outside with her family & friends.

Kristen can be reached at kherndon@cityofgraham.com or 336-792-1189.

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:  career advancement  continuing education  education  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: February 2018

Posted By Peter Raymer, Mount Airy Parks and Recreation, Thursday, February 1, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, January 30, 2018

It was an honor to be named the 2017 NCRPA Young Professional Fellowship Award Recipient! Not only has this been a financial benefit for our department, but it has also served as a very important professional opportunity for me!

Financially, this came at a great time considering our city faced across-the-board budget reductions. The department’s travel and training line item was no exception. I would have had to forgo attending the state conference or other professional pursuits this year, but fortunately, thanks to this fellowship, I was able to attend this year’s conference. In addition, the rest of our team will still have an opportunity to pursue their continuing education this fiscal year.

In addition to the financial benefit of this fellowship, NCRPA also arranges a professional mentor. I was very fortunate to be appointed mentee of Ernie Pages, Director of the Town of Kernersville. Right off the bat, I was impressed with Ernie’s “drive” both literally and figuratively. When we were paired up, Ernie was currently in New Orleans for the national conference. He offered to come up to Mount Airy on Friday morning, the day after returning from the national conference. I was even more impressed when I found out he had driven from New Orleans the day prior and hadn’t arrived until that same morning we had met in Mount Airy. I came to find out that this action personifies Ernie as a person and a professional. He is a motivated individual and looks at challenges or setbacks as opportunities. Ernie and I have kept in touch and met up throughout the state conference. It was a great experience for me to learn how Ernie climbed the ladder and the defining moments along the way. As an expecting father myself, I really appreciated that Ernie also shared his experiences of balancing his professional life with being a family man. Not only was I able to add a great mentor in Ernie to my professional network, but he also made a point to introduce me to the impressive Town of Kernersville Parks and Recreation team. I look forward to visiting them all soon in Kernersville, learning more about their department and using them as a professional references in the future!

Ernie echoed a message that particularly stood out to me throughout the conference: “Put yourself out of your comfort zone. Ask for or take on a task that will help you prepare for where you want to be.” I heard this message several other times in conference sessions. My biggest takeaway from these sessions was that, although I may not be ready to take the next step at this moment, I may be ready in 3 years or 5 years. It is important to gain these skills, relationships and experiences now, so when I am ready to take the next step, my resume will match my ambitions. I always leave the state conference rejuvenated and re-energized but in particular this year I am coming back with a determination to not only improve each program I oversee but also to take on new challenges that may be out of my comfort zone but will make me a better professional and candidate one day when the time is right.

I’m very grateful to have received the fellowship and this experience. I’m looking forward to taking full advantage of the educational and networking opportunities and implementing what I have learned into a very successful 2018!


Meet the Author

Peter Raymer began his career in Parks & Recreation as a teenager serving as a sports official with Iredell County Parks & Recreation. Peter attended NC State University and received his Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management degree in 2008. Peter worked stints with Raleigh Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources and Honolulu YMCA before finding his “true paradise” in the City of Mount Airy Parks & Recreation Department as Program Supervisor in 2010. Peter spends most of the year programming youth and adult athletics and spends the summers directing youth summer camps. Peter says that the highlight of his job is getting to know everyone in the community and he strives to have a positive impact on everyone that participates in MAPR programs. Peter continues to officiate soccer and basketball and enjoys exercising and spending time with his family.

Peter can be reached at praymer@mountairy.org or 336-786-8313.

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:  carolinas joint conference  conference  mentorship  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: January 2018

Posted By Malik Diggs, UNC-Greensboro & Greensboro Parks and Recreation, Thursday, January 4, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Finding value in experiences you have with people and within programs is a tool that takes you a long way. Growing up, I always wanted to be a physical therapist, but when I got to college and began studying Kinesiology, that quickly changed. My first semester was over, and I was stuck not knowing what I wanted to major in - let alone my career choice. Young-minded and confused, I remembered my first real job with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation at Bette Rae Thomas Recreation Center under the award-winning, Recreation Employment Corp, or R.E.C., program. R.E.C. is a work-based learning program employing youth between the ages of 14-17 as employees/mentors at neighborhood recreation centers, nature centers and aquatic facilities. During my time there, I learned lessons about making a change, the impact the smallest interactions can make and overall how recreation can guide youth to better lives and adults to a more self-fulfilling one. That experience served as a precursor to what eventually would become my career, which explains why I am here today.

As fortunate as I was to have that past experience, the learning didn’t stop there. This year was my first time attending the Carolinas Joint Conference, and it was one of the most eye-opening and richest experiences I’ve ever had. The amount of knowledge gained, the people I met and conference as whole provided an immeasurable amount of joy and value. I met people who I now look to as motivation to keep pushing myself in the field of Park and Recreation because they shared stories and knowledge with me that I hope to one day attain. Along with knowledge gained, connections were renewed. I reunited with Terri Stowers, who recognized me from my time in the R.E.C. program; overwhelmed with joy, we discussed how impactful the program was for me and how she, along with the Bette Rae staff, impacted my decision to pursue a career in Park and Recreation. The joint conference is a highlight in my young career and an event I would highly recommend young professionals like myself to attend.

Now, I’m currently a Recreation Assistant for the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department and student at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I’m taking the knowledge gained at school and bringing it into my career. You really start to see the impact of experiences gained whether it be via school or another professional. A great personal example came after taking CTR-314, or Recreation Services with Underrepresented Groups, with Dr. Schleien, a marvelous professor. I feel I gained the ability to view facilities and situations through a lens of inclusion, so now anywhere I go, I’m always looking for a way to adapt activities and facilities to make them more accessible to everyone. Along with that experience, my curriculum and professors will offer many more lessons that will help me attain more skills that will prove worthy in my career.

Discovering my love for recreation was truly a blessing and helped me figure out what’s been right in front of my face the whole time - that Park and Recreation was my calling. Finding value in the experiences I’ve had since the age of 14 has made it easier for me to turn my knowledge into actions. It’s easy to talk the talk, but through enriching experiences, plus knowledge and lessons and with the help of the Greensboro Parks and Recreation department along with my facility director, Gina Carmon, I will become equipped with tools that will help me walk the walk. Therefore, professionals, whether you are 3 months or 20 years into your career, I challenge you to take the interactions you hold dear and turn them into outeractions in order to make a needed change in your community.  Make the change you know is needed, and be the difference you want to see.


Meet the Author

Malik Diggs is currently a student at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Recreation Assistant with Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Parks Management with a concentration in Community Recreation and Event Planning. He hopes to one day become a Director of Park and Recreation, but is taking it day-by-day while taking advantage of opportunities presented to him. He’s a proud dog dad of a Morkie by the name of Milo. His favorite quote is by Michelangelo: “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” He challenges you to push the envelope and make a change. Malik can be reached at mddiggs2@uncg.edu.

 

 

 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:  professional development  Programs  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: December 2017

Posted By Monique Floyd, Greensboro Parks and Recreation, Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Parks and Recreation…more than you think

Many times while pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Parks and Recreation Management, my family and friends would often ask the age-old question, “so you want to be a Park Ranger?”, as if that is the only position one would have in this profession. Unknowingly to them, the field provides a breadth of career choices that have long been a staple in the local communities in which parks and recreation organizations serve. Some may have believed that the little league baseball teams they grew up playing on were run by the local grocery store owner or that coaches would randomly show up on Saturday mornings and impromptu games would just happen. Perhaps, the mythic ideas that dance and music programs held at local recreation centers were solely made possible by a private sector musician, or that halftime entertainment at collegiate and professional games were just a byproduct of the experience. Whatever the thought may be, many Parks and Recreation professionals are the brains behind many programs in the community such as various sport leagues, dance classes, special events, community gardens and the operation of the park system amongst other year round activities. Simply enough, Parks and Recreation is more than you think.

Like the field itself, one may venture to assume that all you will do at a professional conference is sit through long lectures aimed to give you data and information to help you become a better professional. I, on the contrary, believe the 2017 Carolinas Joint Conference will surpass those preconceived notions about what a conference entails. The 2017 Carolinas Joint Conference will offer a plethora of professional advancement ideas and opportunities to help you gain more knowledge, network and socialize with other like-minded professionals. The conference will offer educational sessions, tours of facilities, and have a host of socials for students and young professionals to attend.  With so many sessions to choose from, you may feel overwhelmed and question “what if I choose the wrong one? How can I be sure that what they are discussing is beneficial to someone like me?” As a guide to assist you in choosing the right sessions, the conference program will have session identified for students and young professionals marked with a lightning bolt symbol.

While students and young professionals are free to attend any sessions they would like, here are three of the several sessions identified with students and young professionals in mind. If you are attending conference for the first time, consider attending “Navigating 101- How to Make the Most of Your Conference Experience.” This session will give you great insight and tips on what to expect, what to do, and techniques on maneuvering in social networking environments with other Parks and Recreation professionals while at the conference. Additionally, upon entering the field as a recent graduate or young professional we often secure entry level positions such as Recreation Center Directors, Sports Coordinators, or Program Specialists to name a few. These positions and others like them help us embark on our professional journey and often place us in the middle of the organization’s and community’s political scene. The panel session “Community Recreation and Politics: How to Navigate the Muddy Waters” will provide attendees methods for how to interpret policy and procedures and better understand the chain of command when it comes to addressing political concerns from patrons. If you have the desire for growth and to be or do more in the profession, it is important to understand that the art of growth in the field takes preparation and action. The panel session “Upward Mobility: Cultivating the Skills to Excel in the Profession” will outline strategies used by professionals that may help you in your journey of moving up in the profession.

There will be other educational opportunities that include Resume and Mock Interview Drop-In Sessions, as well as off-site innovation institutes, including a student-only tour. At the resume review and mock interview sessions, you will be able to receive immediate feedback on your resume and interview presentation skills from current Parks and Recreation hiring managers. If you are Interested in exploring what the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department has to offer, in terms of careers and facilities, sign up for the free tour options at registration on the first day of the conference. This is a great way to get a glimpse into how the City of Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department CARE's (creates economic impact, advances conservation, rejuvenates health and wellness, and enhances quality of life) by providing a variety of opportunities at facilities and spaces that help build better lives and better community.

Last but not least, if you are looking for the chance to network and be social there are several opportunities for you. If you are looking for a mentor, sign-up to participate in the mentor-mentee lunch, where you will be matched with an experienced professional based on your professional interests. If you are looking to explore the city after a long day of attending sessions, come to Boxcar Bar + Arcade for a student and young professional social on Monday evening. Take along your conference badge for the chance to redeem a few free tokens.

Since social media is such a major part of our lives and a great way to share your experiences with friends and peers, be on the lookout for selfie stations and social media challenges throughout the conference, and be sure to tag any social media posts from conference with #NCSCParksCon. Stay up-to-date by downloading the 2017 Carolinas Joint Recreation Conference App on your smartphone and checking the conference website. As you can see, at this year’s conference there will be more than you think. We look forward to seeing you all there partaking in all that is in store for you. More information on all student and young professional conference happenings can be found here.


Meet the Author

Monique Floyd is a two time graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She obtained both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Parks and Recreation Management, with a concentration in Leisure Studies. She is currently serving as one of the Assistant Athletic Directors with the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department.  Her role consists of programming the Adult Softball and Basketball leagues as well as managing the field allocation and daily rentals of the department’s baseball and softball facilities. She enjoys being active and playing basketball - she was a four-year starter for UNCG’s Women’s Basketball team. She also enjoys hanging with family, exploring photography and listening to music in her spare time.

Monique can be reached at Monique.floyd@greensboro-nc.gov or 336-373-2946

 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:  carolinas joint conference  conference  student  young professionals  ypn 

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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 

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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 

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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 

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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 

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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 

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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 

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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 

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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 

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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 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 

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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 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 

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