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


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YPN Blog: Spring 2019

Posted By Meredith Batchelor, Special Events Coordinator, Town of Stallings, Thursday, June 20, 2019

Making a Statement

Everyone wants to make a statement, everyone wants to make a name for themselves. Why is it that we always feel the need to prove ourselves? For me, it came with my age and how I looked. Getting a middle management position right out of college is a fantastic accomplishment for some. I was ecstatic that I had been offered a position as the Recreation Manager for a department. What I soon found out was that no one wanted to listen to a 22-year-old kid right out of college, especially one that looked like she was 16 on a good day and “wasn’t from around these parts.” I faced a lot of challenges when it came to that, no one knew by looking at me that I had graduated from college with a degree in the field and no one knew that I had worked so hard to get to where I was.

Fast forward to today and that still is ringing true. I started as the Special Event Coordinator with the Town of Stallings in July of 2018. This was a brand new position created for the town, so I felt as though even though no one had held the position previously, that I still had some big shoes to fill.  I constantly am pushing myself to work harder so that everything I produce for the department can be the absolute best. I will beat myself up internally if something doesn’t go exactly as planned.

It’s not a bad thing to expect and seek perfection, for some it’s a good goal to set, especially as event planners. By nature, event planners are organized and consistent, hitting everything on a checklist and exceeding expectations is how we feel the job is done. I do know now after bringing new events and ideas to the town that I can step back and know I’ve done a good job. As Parks and Recreation professionals, our priority is the people. Special Events is how I can provide for the people and the community I serve. I make sure to take the time out of the event to talk to families that are there. I want to make sure they’re having a good time and the event is everything that they expected. I’ve also gotten a lot of good ideas as well as vendor contacts from talking with the community members. By doing this, I’m also setting up a relationship and a reputation. By being so young in the field, it’s important to build those relationships to carry on with me throughout my career.

For anyone who is also a young professional, don’t be afraid to step up. Take the challenge, ask questions, and be present! Make sure you’re creating those lasting relationship, who knows who you may be needing to call on years from now.

About the Author

Meredith Batchelor is the Special Events Coordinator for the Town of Stallings Parks and Recreation Department. Meredith received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Community and Therapeutic Recreation from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2015 where she concentrated in Community Recreation and Special Events and minored in Political Science. Prior to her time in Stallings, Meredith worked in recreation with the Walt Disney World Resort before becoming the Recreation Manager in Boiling Spring Lakes, NC. She has had a passion for the field since becoming a camp counselor at the age of 16 and loves that she can bring that passion to her position in Stallings.

 Meredith can be contacted at or 704-821-8557.


Tags:  #Ncrecre8  Active Lifestyle  Association  events  Making a Statement  National Recreation and Park Association  NCRPA  networking  NRPA  Organization  parks  Programs  Recreation  Tips  UNCG  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: Winter 2019

Posted By Chamreece Diggs, Greensboro Parks & Recreation, Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Lifestyle vs Labels

As an African American woman I find myself constantly at a cross section of my label and my lifestyle; a place where the imaginary list of things society says I do or do not do defines my likely life experiences. Assessments about who I am or where I will fit-in are sometimes made based on whatever group or label someone puts me in.  These judgements are not excluded to strangers or people whom exist outside of my “label”, but instead encompasses almost everyone. I have spent my lifetime with people outside of my friends and family looking at me strangely when I discuss something that seems to exist beyond my label, like my love for NASCAR for instance. But at the same time, I have had close friends and family give me the same strange look when I talk about wanting to buy a kayak. We have become so conditioned to make decisions about a person’s lifestyle based on what we assume about their label that we limit an opportunity to connect and discover. 

So what does this have to do with parks and recreation? ... A lot. Because social equity and equality are becoming increasingly important, it is necessary for us to explore and discuss some of the more nuanced ways equity and equality present themselves in our work. As parks and recreation professionals we have the benefit of exposure to a wealth of people with an assortment of interest and experiences; through community engagement, networking, programming, facility use, and even as a part of our work group. How we choose to engage with others is shaped in part by conclusions we have drawn about who they are based on a label. It is naive to suggest that we simply not make assumptions about others or ourselves based on labels; it is impossible, we do it every day, all day and without thinking. Rather, a better practice may be to acknowledge that the label exist, then be intentional about how we make decisions and plans based on lifestyle instead. 

To be intentional about focusing on lifestyles, we open to expose and open to explore. Being open to expose means, exposing others to opportunities despite a label. We use feedback from the community to create programs and events that are of interested to them. However, there is value in introducing a community to activities that they may not have considered or that may have been out of reach. This is where equality and equity in parks and recreation is important. An example of this is an outdoor program we offer for teens in high crime, high poverty neighborhoods in Greensboro. Offering a group of 12 to 17 year olds a chance to participate in kayaking, archery, fishing, or camping for the first time creates an environment of access and opportunity. These teens did not know lakes existed in Greensboro or that they were available to them. They did not believed people who looked like them or people who are living in poverty went camping or kayaking. Now, not only do those same teens have an appreciation for the outdoors, they are eager to experience new things.

Being open to explore is more personal and means we are open to exploring the “imaginary list” that may be associated with our labels and finding ways to recreate beyond it. In 2015 I had an opportunity to travel to Italy. As I was preparing for this trip I made a list of all of the things I wanted to do. I knew Mount Vesuvius was in Italy but never considered it to be something I would do. Why, because it was so far from my imaginary list of things I was supposed to do that I could not believe it was accessible to me. When I received my final itinerary for my trip, Mount Vesuvius was on it. On the day I visited Mount Vesuvius I stood at the top and looked over into the volcano, at that moment I thought about what an opportunity I would have missed, had I stuck to my imaginary list. If we as parks and recreation professionals expand our experiences to activities beyond our labels, we are then able to share those experiences with others. If we limit our experience to cultural norms, gender expectations, age limitations and other label “constraints” we are also limiting the experiences of the populations we serve. If I were not open to exploring the outdoors myself, I would not have been open to exposing teens who share my label to the outdoors. 

I challenge each parks and recreation professional who creates and implements programs to be intentional about thinking from a lifestyle first perspective. Acknowledge that a person may belong to a label, but that their label does not define how they choose to recreate. I also suggest diving deep into your own label and exploring how that may shape your experiences. Be deliberate in finding, participating and sharing your experiences in order to enhance how you engage your community.  Discussing how assumptions made based on labels can influence our interactions, is a start to addressing social equity and equality issues in parks and recreation. 

About the Author

Chamreece Diggs is a Facilities Coordinator for Greensboro Park and Recreation. Her experience includes working with special populations, youth, administrative, marketing, project management, recreation centers, and special events. Chamreece prides herself on being create, adaptable, resourceful, and progress driven while working in parks and recreation. She received her Bachelors Degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Recreation Administration and earned Masters of Business Administration from University of North Carolina at Greensboro


Tags:  #NCRecre8  Chamreece Diggs  NCRPA  NRPA  Social Equity  YPN 

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YPN Blog: October

Posted By Andrew Lance, Parks and Recreation Manager, Lexington, Thursday, October 11, 2018

Small Town Department, Big Time Marketing

All of us have faced the dilemma, how do I get my stuff out there?  How do I connect with the people in my community? I know I have awesome programs and events, why don’t people come to them?  Awareness in your city or town can be a big problem, especially if you are a smaller department. Budgets can be tight, time is valuable, and the staff just don’t have the resources to effectively run a major marketing campaign, right?  WRONG! As young professionals, we have lived our entire professional career with social media, and understand the power that it has. The best part is, it’s FREE, and all you have to do is take the time to work it.

When I came to Lexington 2 years ago, we had a social media presence, but it was very disjointed - no voice, no vision, and needed help.  People were there, and wanted to hear from us, but we had to make time to engage them. In the past 2 years, we have grown our likes from 1300 to 3000+ in a city of only 17,000 (shameless plug – give us a like!  There is no secret formula, but here are some tips and tricks to help you improve your social media presence.  

  • Take advantage of free stuff.  Need cool photos to use?  Pixabay and Unsplash are two FREE stock photo sites that have high quality pictures.  Want to make professional looking posts? Try Canva, a FREE site that gives you all kinds of social media templates for posts, covers, etc. and more.  Need more ideas? Check out Hubspot for marketing ideas and links.  Go on NRPA Connect and the NCRPA YPN group on Facebook and ask questions of other people in the field, there are tons of free resources out there.

  • Post videos.  Videos will show up more in news feeds these days, so try and post videos when possible.  At an event or program? Go live, and show off the cool things you are doing!

  • Be personal.  This doesn’t mean post as yourself on the department website.  People want to see family and friends, so share photos of participants and people enjoying your programs and events.  Little Johnny playing at camp will have much more engagement than a picture of a flyer for summer camp.

  • Schedule in advance.  Grab a calendar, check out what you have coming up, and then go ahead and schedule your content for the week.  Boom, your Facebook week is done.

  • Use your insights tab.  See when your audience is online, look at the engagement for your post types, and understand what the audience demographics are.  You can then use this information to tailor your content.

  • Promote engagement.  Ask for comments, pictures, gifs, etc.  Interaction help drives your reach, and the more you have, the more people you can reach and impact.  

  • Schedule events.  Have a cool event coming up?  Make an event on Facebook, then share it.  Making an event is so much better than just a post, because it shows up for other people in the “Events you may like” and Happening near you” sections.

  • Show off your facilities!  Parks and rec centers are cool, and sometimes people don’t realize all that your community has to offer.  We did a #FallParkSpotlight, and every Wednesday highlighted a different park, and people told us they were introduced to parks they never knew were there!

  • Share relevant local content.  Cool stuff happening in your community?  Share that on your page. It shows you care, and encourages other people to share your stuff in return (be sure you can/should share things before you do)

This may seem like a lot, so take a few steps at a time.  Start with a plan, and work to integrate different pieces as you feel comfortable.  By no means is this a comprehensive list, I am learning more and tinkering with the page constantly.  The amount of time it takes now to manage our Facebook page is drastically less than what it used to be, but guess what?  The interaction and reach we have is so much better now, and we have seen a tangible impact on registration, awareness, and community sentiment. At the end of the day, isn’t that what it is all about?  

About the Author

Andrew Lance is the Parks and Recreation Manager for the City of Lexington.  Recreation has been his passion since an early age, especially sports, but he realized early on that he would not grow up to be a professional athlete. Instead, he decided to stick with what he loved, and see the enjoyment others get from being active, playing, and learning.  He attended and graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Sports Management. After school he worked for private sports facilities in Virginia Beach and Downingtown, PA prior to moving to Lexington. Andrew is married with two young boys, and enjoys following Tottenham Hotspur, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Braves, and the Gamecocks among others, and playing sports whenever he can.  Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn (, Facebook ( or reach him at

Tags:  Andrew Lance  Lexington Parks and Recreation  Marketing  NCRPA  NRPA  Social Media  young professionals 

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YPN Blog: September 2018

Posted By Nicole Miller, PNC Arena / Carolina Hurricanes, Thursday, September 6, 2018

Decisions, Decisions

Life is all about choices. We make small choices every day and usually don't think twice about them. What to have for lunch, should I have another cup of coffee (not that this is really a choice, seeing as the answer is always a resounding yes), what should I do when I get home from work. All simple decisions that carry little weight in the grand scheme of things. However, sometimes our decisions are bigger, especially when they come to our career.

One of the most important lessons I have learned when it comes to decisions about your career has nothing to do with actually making the decision but rather how you move forward once you have made it. Lean into your decision and give it your best. This starts as early on as choosing your major in college. You're young; you don't necessarily know what you want to do with your life, but, by the end of your sophomore year, you're made a major choice. When I decided to major in Sport and Event Management, I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation, but I knew that I needed to give my classes my all and create the best future opportunities for myself, regardless of what I thought I wanted those to be.

When I applied for my job at NCRPA, I gave the interviews my all. I got insight from my current supervisor and mentor about the organization, studied everything I could on NCRPA's website, and practiced answering all of the classic interview questions I could think of. Deciding to take this job and move to Raleigh was easy. Once I got to Raleigh, I put my all into my job from Day 1. I was a brand new young professional, and I was eager to learn as much as I could and make the most out of the opportunity at hand. The NCRPA Fellow is designed as a one or two year position for a young professional to help them grow and develop a variety of essential professional skills and experiences. This meant that I had a set amount of time before I would have to make yet another big career decision.

Two years flew by and suddenly it was decision time. Time to decide what type of job I wanted to pursue next, where to apply, where I saw myself 5-10 years in future. As I was applying for jobs, I heard from a professor at Elon, my alma mater, regarding an opportunity for a job that was outside of the parks and recreation or non-profit field, where I had envisioned myself continuing my career. I decided to apply, and after going through the interview process, I was offered the position. Suddenly, I had a major decision to make. Thankfully, I have an amazing support team of friends, family, peers and mentors to discuss my choice with plus a propensity for wanting to know as much information as possible (hello, pro/con list). Ultimately, the decision was mine to make, and I knew that I no matter what I decided I needed to move forward with that decision with confidence

 I decided to accept the offer, and I will begin my new position in just a couple of weeks. Am I 100% confident in my decision, maybe not - decisions this big are scary, but that isn't going to stop me from taking all my of lessons and experiences that I have gained in my past two years and giving my new job my absolute best. Anything less would be a disservice to my new employer, NCRPA, and, most importantly, myself - and doing that was never a choice.

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 or 919-832-5868.

Tags:  professional development  young professionals  ypn 

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Discover NC Parks - Onslow Pines Park, Onslow County

Posted By Thurman Hardison, retired, Friday, August 31, 2018
To have chosen Onslow Pines Park as a #DiscoverNCParks visit was easy for me; sort of like walking back in time while going forward.

Some forty years ago, I started my parks and recreation career at Onslow Pines Park. In 1978, fresh out of North Carolina Central University, with an undergraduate degree in parks and recreation administration, my first positions for pay were with Onslow County Parks and Recreation Department in trail construction during the week and gym supervision at a local school on Sunday afternoons. I, along with about a half dozen others, was hired under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, better known as CETA. CETA was enacted by Congress in 1973. Services funded via this program included on-the-job training, classroom training, and public service employment (footnote…CETA was later replaced in 1982 by the passage of the Job Training Partnership Act, commonly referred to as JTPA).

It had been some time since my last visit to Onslow Pines Park, located three miles south of Jacksonville, so my wife Jacki and I set out early one recent Saturday morning to take a look. One of the most striking features of the park is its well-developed entrance with ample parking and turnaround points to exit the park. To my surprise, the layout of the park hasn’t changed much over time, although it’s obvious that the park has been taken care of and added to by parks staff, as there are several new amenities, upgrades, and improvements. The trail from the 1970’s still exists, I was pleased to find, and now has a formal, dedicated name…the Bicentennial Trail. It’s a 4/10 mile nature walk with twenty interpretive stations as well as a 9/10 mile jogging/fitness trail. There are picnic areas and covered pavilions for family gatherings, lighted tennis and basketball courts for night play, combination baseball/softball/football/soccer fields, a little league baseball field, a playground for tots and a recently constructed inclusive playground, multi-purpose arenas for special events, and a senior citizen outdoor recreation area.

Onslow County has a lot to be proud of with Onslow Pines Park, as it has been sustained and continues to improve over time. When visiting relatives or friends in Onslow County/Jacksonville, take some time to visit or revisit Onslow Pines Park. For more information on Onslow Pines Park, visit

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Tags:  DiscoverNCParks  Onslow County  parks  recreation 

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Discover NC Parks - Goat Island Park and Greenway, Cramerton

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, August 24, 2018
Updated: Thursday, August 23, 2018
"Welcome to Goat Island Park and Greenway" was the sign I saw upon entering the park in Cramerton in Gaston County. I had heard about this island park and decided it was time for a visit. The 29-acre park is located in the middle of the South Fork River of the Catawba River. Yes, you read that right. The park is located in the middle of the river.

Opened in 2012, this park has a 181-foot pedestrian bridge that gives you access to the park from a parking area. Once in the park, there are lots of amenities to be found including walking trails, greenway, playground, 18-hole disc golf course, fishing pier, canoe/kayak portage, shelters with grills, a dog park, outdoor permanent cornhole boards and table tennis boards. There is a second pedestrian bridge that lets you enter from the town center.

The afternoon I chose to visit was one of those days where the temperature was in the high 90s and the dew point in the low 70s, and there just were not a lot of people out enjoying the park while I was there. I did see one adult with several kids go into the park, but they did not stay too long due to the heat.

While the greenway is part of the Carolina Thread Trail, one amenity that really caught my eye was the Goat Island Fitness Pavilion. It is an outside gym. With a concrete floor and canopy roof, it provides the central area for a variety of outdoor fitness equipment. Even though it was hot, I did try out the elliptical for a few minutes.

If you find yourself in this area and are looking for a unique park location, give Goat Island Park and Greenway a try. For more information visit

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Tags:  Cramerton  DiscoverNCParks  parks  Recreation 

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Discover NC Parks - Winterville Recreation Park

Posted By Thurman Hardison, Retired, Friday, August 17, 2018
Updated: Thursday, August 16, 2018
My daughter Ciara and her husband Vincent live in Winterville with their three children Christian, Laila, and Maia. Winterville is a charming town just outside of Greenville and given its proximity to our home in New Bern, my wife Jackie and I get to visit them on a frequent basis.  Our grandchildren are active in many activities in the Winterville/Greenville area like bible school, visits to the library, recreational sports, theatre, dance, and more, thanks to their parent’s sacrifices and love for their children. One place they’ve come to enjoy and appreciate is the local park - Winterville Recreation Park.

Surrounded by recently developed subdivisions as well as traditional homes, the park is located in the heart of town at 332 Sylvania Street. The park is more than just a park; it appears to be a focal point of the community. It is well used throughout the year, especially during recreational sports seasons. It is easily accessible by car, bike, or walking. The park is well-maintained by the town’s parks personnel, with manicured grounds and clean restroom facilities.

The park was expanded to 24 acres in 2010, and offers many amenities and resources to the public, including three youth baseball fields for league and tournament play, a large adult softball field, tennis courts for lessons and general community play, an amphitheater for special events, a playground, and 1 mile of walking trail. During the summer and fall months, you’ll find the tennis courts full, softball seasons winding down, youth football practices and games gearing up, and the amphitheater hosting a twilight activity. And, by the way, the concession stand makes a great hotdog!!!|

When visiting relatives or friends in Winterville or the Greenville area, take some time to visit or revisit the Winterville Recreation Park. For more information on the park visit

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Tags:  DiscoverNCParks  park  Recreation  Winterville 

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Discover NC Parks - LeBaeur Park, Greensboro

Posted By Christopher Horrigan, Guilford County Facilities and Parks, Friday, August 10, 2018
Updated: Thursday, August 9, 2018

“Do I really need the side of pita chips and hummus with my falafel?” Today I am savoring my lunch from Ghassan’s, located within Carolyn & Maurice LeBauer Park, in downtown Greensboro. I settle on the Lebanese salad as I watch others chow on their equally delicious looking burgers from the food kiosk opposite mine. (This is a park-blog Christopher, not a restaurant review.) The choice, however, reflects the multiplicity of recreational experiences and the diversity among the locals and out-of-towners who partake in them.

The four-acre park, which opened in the summer of 2016, is snuggly situated between the Greensboro Cultural Center, Greensboro Historical Museum, the Greensboro Public Library, and is always bustling with activity.

Park patrons and art aficionados will appreciate the installations throughout the park. The Peacehaven Sensory Wall in the children’s garden and the aforementioned food kiosks, designed by NC architect Frank Harmon. Where We Met, a colorful, 200-foot-wide, net hangs high above the concert lawn. The cabling supporting the installation, created by artist Janet Echelman, mirrors the network of railroad tracks which traversed Greensboro in the late 19th century, sending the textiles produced here across the U.S. The lawn below boasts crowds of 3,000 to 4,000 during special events, but remains an intimate setting for the free movie nights and concert series the park frequently hosts.

The large, accessible, play-scape at the center of the park provides plenty of opportunities for digging, hopping, rolling, running, spinning, and climbing. Parents will enjoy the ample seating, clear sight lines, perimeter fencing, and extended rest that comes with setting their child free in this space. When your hot, sweaty child has finally exhausted every conceivable way to explore the children’s garden they can cool off at the interactive fountain/splash pad situated just steps from the gate to the play area; rinse, repeat. Parents and guardians can also enroll their children in the free, weekly, Kid’s Klub programming with dance, art, story-time, and healthy eating opportunities.

A pocket dog park consisting of artificial turf and crushed stone occupies a corner of the park; dog lovers/owners and werewolves can participate in free group dog training, dog yoga, and adoption fairs…swearwolves should stay home! (If you got the rather obscure movie reference, and you’re in Greensboro, let’s have coffee, or chips and hummus). Nature enthusiasts can stop and smell the flowers in the native plant garden and golfers can work on their short game at the putting green outside the cultural arts center. LeBauer park is open until 11 pm and the lighting scheme really provides pop to the installations and fountain, so come back after sunset and grab a drink or dinner at nearby Café Europa and enjoy the park in a new light.

As much as I enjoy taking my family to LeBauer Park, it is equally enjoyable on a professional level. It is exceptionally well managed by the nonprofit Greensboro Downtown Parks Inc. in partnership with Greensboro’s Park and Recreation Department. Well-designed parks, like LeBauer, activate underutilized spaces, promote economic development, and are a gathering place for diverse user groups to meet and co-mingle. The numerous public-private sponsorships and the $10 million bequest by Carolyn Weill LeBauer affirm the value corporations, non-profits, and the public place on our profession, parks, and the role they play in creating equitable, healthy, and vibrant communities.

LeBauer Park is located at 208 N. Davie Street Greensboro, NC 27401. On-street and off-street parking along with the Church Street Parking Deck is available nearby. A calendar of events, complete facility listing, and a detailed history of the park and the LeBauers can be found at

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Tags:  DiscoverNCParks  Greensboro  parks  recreation 

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Discover NC Parks - Lake Johnson, Raleigh

Posted By Coult Culler, Intern at NCRPA, Friday, August 3, 2018
Updated: Thursday, August 2, 2018
Choosing my #DiscoverNCParks visit was not a very hard choice. I have lived in Raleigh for about five years now and since moving here I have fallen in love with a local park named Lake Johnson Park. I live within walking distance of this wonderful site, which makes it very easy for me to go for a run or just have a nice quiet place to escape. Offering many amenities and resources to the public, Lake Johnson Park is a great place for anyone!

Recently I decided to go for a run, which I haven't done in a while, but I am glad I did. It was around 7:30 pm when I got to the lake, and it was beautiful. It was not very hot and the humidity level was down. I started my run on the west side of the lake where there is no pavement; the trails are made up of wood chips and other natural materials that have been recycled to give the trails more of a natural appearance. The West Loop Trail is roughly 1.6 miles long. I always start on the west side of the lake because there is an elevated ridge that looks over the lake, and it is a great spot to stop and catch your breath. For me, it is a spot to stop and decompress while taking in the landscape surrounding me. Continuing on the trail, the West Loop crosses Avent Ferry Road and becomes the paved East Loop. The East Loop is about 2.8 miles that includes a bridge that crosses the lake as well as a section that goes over the dam. At the dam, you usually see people fishing, playing with their pets, and others taking in the view. Continuing on the East Loop is a great way to end your run or walk. Going through the old trees and seeing wildlife, all while being about 20 yards from the lake. The end of the trail brings you right back to the parking lot, which is very convenient for people who drove. That day I didn't mind having to walk back to the house because it was just so nice out.

Lake Johnson offers more than just trails; you are able to use any of the shelters for gatherings, rent paddle boats, go fishing off the bridge or dam, participate in fitness classes, and more. I highly recommend taking the time to discover what Lake Johnson Park has to offer. Even if you do not live in the City of Raleigh, take a couple hours on a weekend and get out there! I hope this inspires you to discover Lake Johnson or any other park that may be near you.

For more information on Lake Johnson Park, visit

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Tags:  DiscoverNCParks  greenways  parks  Raleigh  Recreation 

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YPN Blog: August 2018

Posted By Coult Culler, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Thursday, August 2, 2018
Updated: Monday, July 30, 2018

Staying Connected

Hello fellow young professionals! My name is Coult Culler, and I am the current summer intern here at the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association (NCRPA). After completing my internship, I will officially be a North Carolina State University graduate. I am graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management with a concentration in Natural Resources. My time here at NCRPA has allowed me to sharpen my profession skills, learn new ones, and most importantly meet some great people. In this month's YPN blog, I will discuss the importance of staying connected with past friends, classmates, professors, and other contacts.

Over the course of my four years in college, I was able to meet hundreds of individuals. Some of whom I now consider to be my best friends and will always keep in touch with them no matter where we end up in life. Others I have met were classmates, coaches, teacher assistants, and professors. It has taken me until this point to realize how important it is to stay connected with them. Staying connected has the potential to open doors and create new opportunities that may never have come around without the help of an old friend.

After finishing your general college classes, you are able to move into your major-specific classes. In these classes, you start to meet fellow classmates that more than likely share similar career goals as you do and partake in the same extracurricular activities. It is scary how fast those four years can fly by, and people start getting jobs and going their separate ways. After those four years, people have more than likely shared contact information or are friends on social media of some sort. Taking advantage of that information may benefit you more than you think. If you are currently working a job and have already started looking for new ones, or you are still on the search for either a part-time or full-time job, take advantage of the contacts you have access to. Your classmates may be in a position to help you find a job or even offer you a position at their current organization.

A lot of us had a favorite professor that taught multiple classes related to our major. He or she was able to get to know who you are from your assignments, projects, papers and other school-related content. They were also able to see you grow as a person over a couple of years. Professors are there to share their knowledge with young professionals that strive to make a difference in the world no matter where they may end up working. But looking down the road, they are there to help you even if you are not in school anymore. Professors have an endless book of connections that may assist you in the job search. When you are stressing about your current employment position and where to go from there, don’t hesitate to send that email. The connection with past teachers and professors goes past the classroom doors. Reaching out for advice or suggestions is something that they would be happy to share with you.

During my final year at NC State, I started to become stressed about finding an internship. I spent hours looking and applying but was unable to hear back from anyone. I finally ended up reaching out to my advisor who I had become close with over the years. Thankfully, she was able to give me a couple of leads to different places that had internships available around the Raleigh area. I ended up applying for the position with NCRPA later that day. Not too long after applying, I received an email back from NCRPA asking when I could come in for an interview. I immediately sent my advisor an email saying thank you for all of her help because without it I may have never gotten the internship. That just goes to show that building relationships with people over the years can benefit you in tough situations.             

My time at NC State was more than anything I could have asked for because of the people I met and the education I received. Now moving forward as a young professional, I am able to see the unwritten side of the real world. It is up to us to find a profession we have a passion for, but that is a lot easier said than done. Take advantage of the friends and contacts you have made over the years because you never know how they could positively impact your future.

 Meet the Author


Coult joined NCRPA this summer as an intern and is a native of Wilmington, North Carolina. He is planning on graduating from North Carolina State University at the end of this summer with a Bachelor's of Science in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management with a concentration in Natural Resources. Coult lives in Raleigh and enjoys making trips back to Wilmington to fish and be on the water.


Coult can be reached at or 919-832-5868.


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

Tags:  connections  intern  internship  networking  professional development  young professionals  ypn 

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Discover NC Parks - Green Hills Park, Wake County

Posted By Patricia Tyndall, Greenville Recreation & Parks, Friday, July 27, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2018
They say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Wake County has taken this expression to the ultimate conclusion. At Green Hills County Park, they have transformed the county’s trash into a mountainous treasure for everyone. Green Hills, formerly known as the North Wake Landfill District Park, opened in 2010 two years after the landfill was closed. Now, hills of green meadow grasses, trails, paved walking and bike paths and a playground cover the grounds.

The entry road to the park takes you on a 1.4-mile paved loop around the main hill (or landfill slope). A recent upgrade to the park divided the loop road with one lane for vehicles and the other for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, while Eastern Bluebirds zip from post to post ahead of you, serving as a bright and bubbly welcoming committee. A stroll or slow ride around the hill often offers sightings of Eastern Meadowlarks and at the right time of the season, an American Kestrel may stand sentry on the hill. Wildlife viewing can be interesting at the park. Birds, especially, are drawn to the green space. Tree Swallows nest near the playground and Red-shouldered Hawks are residents in the wooded edges. Deer are frequently spotted in the parks and turtles and frogs are often found in the creeks of the adjacent greenways.

For most visitors, the HIGHlight of the park is the “Top of the Hill.” Off the paved loop, a gravel trail takes visitors on a tenth-of-a-mile trek up to the top of the main hill. At 469 feet above sea level, you are at a high peak for this part of the state. The short, steep climb provides for a spectacular view of Wake County. Runners and cyclists often take on the hill as part of an exercise loop.

The park has a popular playground for ages 5-12 with a climbing wall and climbing web and a tot lot for children 2-5 years old. The playground area has a few first-come-first-served picnic tables. A large picnic shelter, which can serve up to 100 people is adjacent to the playground. There also is a picnic table at the “Top of the Hill.” The parking areas along the loop provide access to two miles of mountain bike trails in the park and a mountain bike skills area and the park serves as a trailhead connecting Green Hill’s trails to the City of Raleigh’s Abbott’s Creek Trail and on to the Neuse River Greenway.

Visiting Green Hills County Park also can serve as an educational experience. Below the park, the solid waste of the landfill continues to decompose. Around the hill, you can see test wells, pipes and the liner which are all part of containing and monitoring the sealed landfill. Methane produced by the decomposing contents of the landfill is collected through a series of wells and pipes. The gas currently fuels processes at a nearby industry. The remaining gas is burned off in a flare station. You can often hear and see the flame burning when you visit the park.

One important note about Green Hills is a NO GRILLS policy. No open flames and no smoking either. Considering there is a methane collection system in the park, these rules are critical for eliminating the potential of grass fires.

For more information about Green Hills County Park, visit

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Discover NC Parks - Ellis Park, Rowan County, NC

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Monday, July 16, 2018
On July 12th the new All Can Play playground at Ellis Park held their ribbon cutting. This inclusive & ADA accessible is the newest addition to the park which has a community building, picnic shelters, bocce courts, 18 hole disc golf course, game room, horseshoe pits, tennis courts, pickleball courts, sand volleyball court and two ball fields. This 29-acre park also features an event center with a riding arena, judges tower, restrooms, and concession stand. A 1.5-mile walking trail connects the two facilities.

This playground addition was partially funded through a Connect NC Bond program. Rowan County was one of 18 projects across North Carolina selected to receive the grant funding. It was great to see a large crowd out to participate in the ribbon cutting while two busloads of children from a summer camp waited patiently for the festivities to conclude so they could PLAY!

Some featured components of the play structure include accessible swings, braille panel, sign language panel, and musical keyboard panel. Also included in the playground area is an inclusive orbit which is a merry go round that accommodates someone in a wheelchair, seated or standing all at the same time. This is a place where children, parents, grandparents, siblings, or friends with and without disabilities can interact and ”All Can Play.”

After the dedication, I asked for a tour of the community building and had a great conversation with Park Supervisor Craige Farmer. The building was previously an old school house. When it ceased to be used as a school and was placed up for auction, a group of farmers came together to purchase the building and surrounding property and gave it to the county to operate as a park and community gathering place. Today, the building is available for rental and also serves as the offices for the therapeutic recreation division and houses the Rowan County Senior Games.

In addition to all of the smiling faces on the playground, I loved the story of how the community came together to protect an area that was important to them and set it up to support the area for many years to come.

To view a fun video produced by Rowan County on the ribbon cutting visit For more information on Ellis Park visit

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Tags:  DiscoverNCParks  parks  recreation  Rowan County 

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Discover NC Parks - Fourth Creek Greenway, Statesville, NC

Posted By James Huffman, Iredell County Parks & Recreation, Friday, July 13, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2018
For my Discover NC Parks visit, I set off on the Fourth Creek Greenway operated by the Statesville Recreation and Parks. Having recently started with the Iredell County Parks and Recreation Department, in a new to me city, I was excited to see what parks the area has to offer. The Fourth Creek Greenway did not disappoint.

Starting the trail, I was pleasantly walking along enjoying the sights and sounds of nature. Butterflies following me along, the lushness of the foliage, a couple of black walnut trees, burbling of Fourth Creek, happy birds calling to each other, and the occasional Copes gray tree frog awake in the daytime. This is how I envisioned my time at the greenway. I was in for a surprise, as happens often at NC parks, I took a bend in the trail and walked into a massive soccer complex! Little to my knowledge the greenway skirted the outside of the Statesville Soccer Complex. This place is massive! 75 acres with playgrounds, disc golf, sand volleyball, shelters and 7 full-size soccer fields. I was in bliss!

It was a weekday around noon when I visited, thusly the action wasn’t happening. I could easily envision a Saturday during soccer season. The fields full of athletes, children playing on the playgrounds, runners, walkers and cyclist using the greenway and everyone being outside having fun and staying healthy.

I picked the greenway due to my love of them. Taking land that is either unusable or already purposed and making it into a usable green space that helps sustain nature as well as us. As is the case with Fourth Creek. I started in a low area next to the creek, skirted a soccer complex and then followed it under tall power lines. I will be back to finish the greenway and next time with my family, maybe we will gather some of the black walnuts in the fall!

For more information on the Fourth Creek Greenway visit

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Tags:  DiscoverNCParks  greenways  parks  recreation  Statesville 

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YPN Blog: July 2018

Posted By Shawna Tillery, Greensboro Parks and Recreation, Thursday, July 12, 2018
Updated: Thursday, June 28, 2018

Juggling Family, Work and Life

Hi! I am so excited to write a blog post to fellow young professionals about what I like to call the balancing act called life. Let’s be real; being a wife, full-time working mom of two children, and dog mom makes for a very full plate.

To give you a little background on myself in my current role in Parks and Recreation, I serve as the Planning and Project Development Manager for the City of Greensboro’s Parks and Recreation Department. I took on this role in November 2016 while I was seven months pregnant with my second child. It was a bold move, but I am so happy for the opportunity to enter the parks and recreation world. My professional background has been in community development and city planning, so parks and recreation is new to me. Being that my experience was not in parks and recreation, it has been so enriching  to get to be involved in planning from the parks and recreation realm and learn about all the cool equipment and techniques for improving the quality of life for community residents (and my kids) in a different way than I have done in the past. It has also been challenging to juggle family, work and life.

I am consistently in-between work projects, supervisory responsibilities, after-hours work commitments, kid activity scheduling, household duties, and making time for my husband and family. Over the past two years, I have tried hard to make the transition of managing both my professional life and my personal life the best I can. It has had its difficulties, but I am so glad to have the opportunity to provide insights into some tips I have used for both my professional and personal life.

For my professional life, here are a few tips that have made the juggling act easier for me.

1)      I spend Friday afternoons getting prepared for the next week’s work schedule. I still use a paper calendar as well as Outlook to keep together my schedules and to-do lists. There is just something about writing my to-do list that is therapeutic for me and of course crossing off anything on my to-do list!

2)      Delegating is necessary. By knowing the strengths of your staff or co-workers, it gives you the ability to know who will be able to accomplish certain tasks with ease. For me, having a new fully-staffed team has been so refreshing. This has allowed me to feel more rounded when focusing on project development and management.

3)      Leave your office. There are some days when I get so busy and haven’t taken the time to take a break. It’s necessary; do it. Refocus yourself to be more productive, even if it’s for 10 minutes.

For my personal life, this has been hard because being a wife and mom you always have some type of guilt. I have worked hard in the past year to devote time to myself in order for me to be the best wife and mom I can be. Here are a few tips that have been beneficial for me to try and juggle the balance.

1)      Scheduling is key for my personal life. My husband and I share a calendar and each Sunday we attempt to review what is ahead for the week. This team approach helps to divide and conquer the week.

2)      We get babysitters. As a mom, you are always carrying guilt, but I have worked hard to not feel guilty for taking time for myself and marriage. Everyone deserves to get out! I have started to revamp my babysitter list since a lot of mine graduated. It’s essential!

3)      Take some time each week for yourself. Even if it’s going to the grocery store alone, it’s necessary. Do it.  We have recently started a new routine in our house called “free pass” night.  My husband and I choose one night a week or every other week where we don’t pick up the kids after work and have a few hours of just personal time - so far, so good on this. I would definitely recommend trying it and figuring out a schedule that works for your house.

Juggling family, work and life is one of the hardest things to do as a working professional. If any of you out there are able to use some of my tips to help you, then please do it. For me, I have worked hard to figure out the formula that works best for my life. Keep plugging along until you are able to find a formula that makes you feel like you are not being spread in 50 directions! 

Meet the Author

Shawna currently serves as the Planning and Project Development Division Manager for the City of Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department. In this role, she manages the departmental efforts in the areas of strategic and long-range planning, Capital Improvement Program, Capital Life Cycle Plan, and recreational bond referendums with regards to open space, greenways, trails, parkland and facilities.

Shawna completed her undergraduate degree at the University of NC at Wilmington majoring in Political Science with minors in Spanish and International Affairs. Shawna moved to Greensboro a year after completing her undergraduate degree to complete a Masters in Public Affairs at the University of NC at Greensboro.

After graduate school, Shawna worked as a Redevelopment Assistant for the City of Greensboro for three years - working with homeless grants, redevelopment area projects, and staff for the Redevelopment Commission. After working in Greensboro, Shawna moved into the position of Community Development Administrator for seven years at the City of Burlington. In this role, she managed two federal grants, which included both housing programs and community development projects.

Shawna is an active member of the Junior League of Greensboro, having served in several leadership roles for the past seven years. She lives in Greensboro with her husband, two children, and furbaby.

Shawna can be contacted at or 336-373-7808

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

Tags:  work-life balance  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: June 2018

Posted By Emma Griffin, Carrboro Recreation and Parks, Thursday, June 7, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Now What?

So, you’ve finished college, completed your internship, and finally got your first “real” job…now what? When I was in college, we were guided and coached on getting our first full-time job. I had always told myself I needed to stay in that job for 3 - 5 years to establish a good reputation, get my foot in the door, and to show loyalty and dedication. No one wants to look like a “job hopper,” right? But what is our next step? When is the “right” time to start looking for your next job?

That is the question I faced this past year. I had been working at Southern Pines Recreation and Parks Department for almost 4 years as the Senior Programs/Special Events Coordinator. I loved my job. I loved my coworkers. I had an amazing and supportive boss. Why would I ever leave? But then I found myself looking and keeping an eye out for job openings through NCRPA's Career Connection more and more often. And finally one day, it just clicked. I saw a job posted that I thought would be perfect for me, more specialized, and closer to home. After almost 4 ½ years working in Southern Pines, I made the decision to accept the job as Recreation Supervisor (Signature Events) for the Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department. I am not someone who typically likes change and I usually feel more comfortable in a familiar setting, but I was ready to accept the challenge and see what this new job had to offer and where it could take me in my career. Still the question begs, do you ever really “know” or are you just taking a leap of faith hoping it works out? I like to think it’s a little bit of both.

When considering the “right” time to look for a new job opportunity, remember that the right time for me probably won’t feel like the right time for you. Everyone is going to have different motivating factors for moving onward and upward in their career. What were mine? Simple, my family and growth in my career. While I had been working in Southern Pines for over 4 years, I had been living in Alamance County (Eli Whitney to be exact) during that time as well. For those of you not familiar with the area, it was a solid 1-hour drive to work every day. When my daughter was born and I returned to work in December 2016, my morning drive turned into two hours by the time I took her to the babysitter (plus the hour drive home at night). Yeah, the drive was awful but I had gotten very accustomed to it since I had also commuted over 45 minutes to UNC-Greensboro for 3 years. For me and my husband, it was worth it to us to live in the area we wanted, near family and friends, and for me to have a job I enjoyed and loved. That alone made the drive worth it. Even though I thoroughly believed my job was worth the long drive, I knew I would be crazy to pass up an opportunity to work 20 minutes from home.

I also firmly believe that it is necessary to always be learning, growing, and pushing yourself in this field in order to be the best Recreation Professional possible. If you become complacent, content, or just don’t feel challenged anymore, then you risk losing what makes our profession so special…your passion. In my last position in Southern Pines, I was fortunate to always be given the opportunity (and encouraged) to try new things and push myself. However, I felt myself slowly getting into a slump of just being happy with how my events and programs were going and not as excited to continue to make them grow and improve. That was another sign for me that it may be time to look for new opportunities in a place that I could challenge myself. Carrboro is a very unique town with an even more diverse and unique population. They offer larger scale events and programs to the community than in past departments I have worked in. The challenge and opportunity to be part of something like that made me excited (and a little nervous)!

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer. There isn’t a formula. I can’t lay it out step by step to tell you when it’s time to look for a new job. What I can tell you is, always know your own priorities and understand the pros and cons of your decision. I’ve been working in Carrboro for about 3 months now and when I was approached about writing for this blog, the idea for this topic came to me pretty easily since it is very relevant in what I have just experienced. But I found while writing this, that there’s probably a reason we never talked about this much in school, because there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution or answer to navigating your career.

Meet the Author

Emma Griffin obtained her Bachelor’s in Recreation and Parks Management with a concentration in Community Recreation and Event Planning and a Sociology Minor from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2013. During college, she worked part time and as a practicum and intern student at Gibsonville Parks and Recreation for 1.5 years, where she developed her passion for the field of public recreation. Emma worked as the Senior Programs and Special Events Coordinator for 4.5 years for Southern Pines Recreation and Parks. She recently began her job as Recreation Supervisor for Carrboro Recreation and Parks in March 2018. When she is not working, Emma enjoys spending time with her husband, Jay, daughter, Lilah, and friends and family. Emma loves taking walks, visiting local parks, and taking vacations at historical sites.


Emma can be reached at or 919-918-7367.


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

Tags:  career advancement  professional development  young professionals  ypn 

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