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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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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

 Attached Thumbnails:

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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50 at 50 | May 25

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Thursday, May 24, 2018
This is the last #50at50 park blog and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting out to visit so many “new to me” parks during the past year. I was super excited when I received an invitation to attend the grand opening of the Bryan Multi-Sports Complex in Goldsboro that was held on April 23rd. I have been holding this post to complete this series as it brings me back to the beginning of my love of parks. 

I grew up in the Rosewood Community of Wayne County and the parks I visited as a kid were in Goldsboro. My first park and recreation job was in Goldsboro as the director of the Fun Bunch Day Camp. This camp is still offered today with some of the same activities I helped provide like bowling and swimming. Today, I am excited to share with you the newest park in Goldsboro, the Bryan Multi-Sports Complex.

Goldsboro is the home of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base (SJAFB) and the Bryan Multi-Sports Complex is a unique partnership between the city and the base to provide recreational activities. During the grand opening, the Honorable John Henderson, Assistant Secretary of U.S. Air Force Installations, spoke of how this is the first joint P4 partnership between a military base and its home community. This complex will serve as the model for other communities. The 62-acre park was constructed and paid for by the city, with a $3 million loan from Wayne County government and a $3 million voter-approved bond. The development was made possible following a 20-year lease agreement between the city and the U.S. Air Force, which allows the city to develop and maintain the site on base property. As part of the agreement, the city will be paying for a 2,500-square-foot addition to the base's main fitness center.

How do two agencies like a local parks and recreation department and the U.S. Air Force share a facility? Some examples include daily PT, military ceremonies, overflow parking for large events on base, and youth soccer tournaments that will generate tourist spending. As you drive into the park, the first thing I noticed was a plane mounted on a pedestal and this is no ordinary plane. It is a 4E Phantom that was assigned to and remained a part of the 334th Eagles Fighter Squadron at SJAFB from 1977 to 1990 and was the last operational F-4E to serve at the base. The natural area under the plane will soon be designed to look like a soccer ball.

When you partner with the U.S. Air Force, it is only natural to have a flyover by two F-15E Strike Eagles as part of your dedication. Park visitors will have the opportunity to see Air Force fighter jets fly over, as part of daily routines, exercises, and missions. Even though I grew up getting to experience the rumble and thrill of jets as they pass overhead, I’m excited visitors to this complex will get to experience it as well.

The Bryan Multi-Sport Complex has eight multi-sports fields, including two with artificial turf, a concessions stand, walking trails, restrooms, and lots of paved parking. Future additions include a playground, covered picnic shelters and a splash pad. The next time you are heading east, I recommend exiting the Highway 70 bypass and stopping a few moments to enjoy the jets flying overhead and check out this park. More information can be found online at

So what is next? Stay tuned for a special announcement because it really is about a Lifetime of Discovery!

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Tags:  50at50  Goldsboro  parks  recreation 

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50 at 50 | May 18

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Thursday, May 17, 2018
Many years ago my family held a gathering in a historic home at Cedarock Park in Alamance County and since I was not able to attend, I took the opportunity to explore this park on my own. Established in 1975, this 500-acre park has some very unique features and creatures. The park is on the site of the historic farm of John and Polly Garrett. From the information signs I read, they established their homestead on this property in 1830 and the farm has been restored to the way it was in the late 1800s. The farm was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1980.

While exploring the farm site I found the original home the Garrett’s built while the main house was being built, a building that was once the post office, a corn crib, several buildings used for farm equipment and carriage storage, and the outhouse, while not operational, was in better shape than some I’ve used in the past. And what would a restored farm be without a few sheep, goats and a team of mules? Cedarock park has them all!

In addition the farm, the park offers six miles of hiking trails, six miles of equestrian trails, two disc golf courses with a total of 36 holes for play, two fishing ponds, a picturesque waterfall over an old mill dam, picnic shelters and gazebos, a basketball court, a volleyball court, a playground, canoe and kayak rentals, camping, and ample field space for open play. The even add in a third disc golf course to host tournaments.

So what about the historic house where my family gathered? It is now the visitors center and location of the offices for the Alamance County Parks & Recreation staff. Not a bad place to have an office. If you are looking for a unique experience, this is a great place to put on your list. For more information on Cedarock Park visit

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Tags:  50at50  Alamance County  parks  Recreation 

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50 at 50 | May 11

Updated: Friday, May 11, 2018
Today I share with you the 48th “new to me” park visit in this series of 50 at 50. Earlier this week on a gorgeous afternoon, I made my way to Mayo Park and Lake which is part of the Person County Recreation, Arts & Parks. Opened in 1998 it consists of 120 acres of parkland and a 3000-acre lake. A boat ramp is provided in conjunction with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and the afternoon I was there 4 or 5 trucks with empty trailers were in the parking lot. While down at the boat ramp, I saw a banner promoting the bass fishing tournaments held 4 times between March and June.

In addition to multiple picnic shelters and playgrounds, I found a few hiking trails. One trail had what looked like pages from a book displayed that allows users to read a story as they go along the trail. Following the end of the story, there were a few displays encouraging users to be active by trying garden yoga. Another trail let me find multiple tee boxes and baskets on the Sasquatch Disc Golf Course. Be sure to the check out their signs in the pics below. The park rents kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddle boards, has a fishing pole loaner program and offers summer movies in the amphitheater. The amphitheater is a popular location for weddings and the community room in the Environmental Education Community Center is a popular rental location for parties, weddings, family reunions, and community events. In another area of the park, I found an area that houses 10 horseshoe courts where they host tournaments. The courts are near the campground that includes cabins, along with tent and RV sites and bathhouses.

Before leaving, I had the chance to chat with Park Ranger Jeffery Streets about the programs offered at the park. He is a parks and recreation graduate from NC Central and grew up in Person County. I have to agree with his assessment that “Mayo Park and Lake is one of the best-kept secrets around”. Now that I’ve shared the secret, I encourage you to visit if you are in the area.

For more information on Mayo Park and Lake visit

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Tags:  50at50  lake  parks  Person County  recreation 

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50 at 50 | May 4

Updated: Thursday, May 3, 2018
Remember the NC Connect Bond from March 2016? This statewide bond initiative included one-time funding of $3 million for parks and recreation grants to benefit children and/or veterans with disabilities for local park projects. On my visit to Massey Hill Park which sits on just over 15 acres in Fayetteville, I got to see a completed project just before the grand opening was held on April 14th. With $250,000 in funding from the bond was used to update the baseball field behind the community center with a rubberized surface. In past years, parks and recreation staff used temporary rubber mats that stretched along the base paths to accommodate play for their Buddy Baseball program.

In addition to funds from the NC Connect Bond, the citizens of Fayetteville passed a $35 million dollar bond referendum in March of 2016 to support this effort and the city received a $40,000 grant from the MLB’s Baseball Tomorrow Fund. This summer, the Buddy Baseball program will be enjoying a newly universally accessible installed field made entirely of a flat, rubberized surface, as well as upgrades to the fencing, dugouts and access paths leading to the field.

After my visit, I had a chance to talk to Parks & Recreation Director Michael Gibson and he told me how the outfield fence had been extended to 125 feet versus the standard 110-115 feet. This additional space in the outfield has created an additional mini field to be used for playing other sports like soccer, kickball, and hockey. I loved how adding a little extra in the outfield will allow for programming after the baseball season is over. The Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation Department works with the two VA hospitals in the area to provide programs through the Wounded Warrior program to provide programs for adults.

The other new feature at the park includes an accessible splash pad and playground. I see the park getting a great use following games on the field and by citizens in the community and students at the school next door. After having a little fun taking selfies at the splash pad, I explored the grounds of the center and found a unique display of hanging 2-liter bottles that had been converted to planters.

From the online articles, pictures, and videos I’ve discovered following the grand opening of this facility, it is one that will be loved and enjoyed for years to come while providing programs for kids and adults! For more information on the Massey Hill Park visit

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Tags:  50at50  Fayetteville  parks  recreation  Wounded Warriors 

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YPN Blog: May 2018

Posted By Chris Allen, Rocky Mount Parks and Recreation, Thursday, May 3, 2018
Updated: Monday, April 30, 2018

The beginning of each year highlights National Mentoring Month, when we applaud the dedicated individuals that give their time and experience to benefit others.  After all, mentoring offers so many professional and personal benefits for people of all ages and backgrounds. According to the National Mentoring Partnership, of individuals that obtain mentors during any point in their professional careers, 90% are interested in becoming a mentor themselves and 130% are likely to be placed in leadership roles within their organization.  By preparing young professionals and advanced professionals alike, mentorship helps develop the future workplace talent pipeline. Mentors can help their mentees with their professional careers and assist with their workplace skills, so it is important that mentees sure their selected mentor has their best interest in mind when pursuing a mentor-mentee relationship.

Before you start having recurring nightmares of Farnsworth Bentley holding Sean “Diddy” Combs’ umbrella, mentors aren't just for reality television stars. A mentor is an individual that helps guide your development professionally and sometimes personally. In an increasingly competitive job market, a good mentor might be just what you need - whether you're a recent graduate or an experienced professional in your field and looking to make the next move. Before making that move, consider why you want a mentor. Mentors can be useful whether you are stagnate at your position or in a transitional period. A mentoring relationship should not be entered for its own sake. When looking for a mentor, don’t forget to consider finding one in your existing network. There are plenty of ways to find a mentor, but through your network on- and offline can sometimes be the best avenue. Once you have selected a mentor, make sure you are upfront about your goals and how those goals will be measured. It is important to develop the right mentor-mentee chemistry to ensure a successful relationship. As a reminder, a good mentor could be the catalyst that takes you to your desired position, so maintaining a good relationship could save stress to both parties.

So, to the professionals that are searching for mentors, be sure to take your time with your selection. It could be the difference between just working for a department or one day potentially becoming the department director.

Meet the Author

Chris “Ross” Allen originally from Wake Forest, NC, obtained his Bachelor’s in Athletic Administration from North Carolina Central University and his Master’s in Sports Management from the same university.  Chris has worked for the town of Wake Forest as Maintenance Specialist and the City of Durham as a Recreation Specialist. He is currently the Recreation Coordinator for the City of Rocky Mount. Chris is currently a board member for the National Recreation and Park Ethnic Minority Society while also serving as a Region Chair with the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association.

Chris can be reached at or 252.972.1170


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

Tags:  mentor  mentorship  professional development  young professionals  ypn 

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50 at 50 | April 27

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, April 27, 2018
During my visit to Hope Mills Municipal Park, I found lots of opportunities for recreation.  The park includes the community center with a gym, meeting rooms, a game room and the office for the parks and recreation department.  Following a brief visit with staff, I set out to explore the park which opened in 1981.  

Having been in the car for most of the day, I was looking an opportunity to stretch my legs and finding the 1.8-mile greenway around the park was the perfect way to explore all that was available.  Right across from where I parked the car, was the dog park with areas for large and small dogs.  Then I passed the baseball/softball fields prepped for upcoming games.  Next, I heard the bouncing of a basketball during a pick-up game at the outdoor court.  I met numerous citizens of varying ages and abilities using the greenway.  One lady who I spoke with briefly told me she was recovering from knee replacement and was glad the weather was better so she could get out and walk every day even if it was at a slow pace.  

After passing a picnic shelter, I heard the laughter and excited squeals of children as I neared the playground.  The kids were running and moving to the various pieces of equipment while the adults in this area were pretty quiet and most of them appeared to be talking with someone or looking at their phones.  As I continued on the greenway, I heard a ‘swish’ sound and found the skatepark where four young men were practicing their skills as they went down, up and over the ramps and apparatus.  The sounds varied from excitement for a trick well done to a thud and groans for a trick gone wrong.  

From here, I stayed on the greenway and got to explore other town services that share borders with the park.  First was the library, then the fire department, followed by the police department and finally town hall before I returned to the community center. In the parking lot that serves many of these town services was a food truck rodeo with a variety of offerings to be enjoyed.  

Before returning to my car, I visited the Armed Forces Veterans Memorial, a place of reverence and respect.  It was the perfect way to end my visit at the park.  For more information on the programs offered at Hope Mills Municipal Park visit

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Tags:  50at50  Hope Mills  Parks  Recreation 

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50 at 50 | April 20

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, April 20, 2018
Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2018
There are not many parks that have a beach and I recently found one at Luther Britt Park while visiting Lumberton. The 142-acre park opened in 1986 and has 35 acres of water. The clubhouse overlooking the beach area is a focal point of the park. While closed for swimming on the day I visited, I was able to see that when they open for the summer season they will also offer paddle boats for rental. With 2 lakes on the property, I can imagine one is used more for the active activities and one is for fishing. During my 3 mile walk on the trails, I stopped to enjoy the view and a little porch swinging lakeside.

Located right off I-95, I would agree with’s assessment that Luther Britt Park is Lumberton's Best Kept Secret. So how did I find it? I stopped by the Lumberton Parks & Recreation office and a photo of the beach and clubhouse caught my eye. After talking to Parks & Recreation Director Tim Taylor, I knew I had to visit. The park has an 18-hole disc golf course and one of the baskets is on an island in the lake. From the 17th tee box, the disc travels across the water. I asked about “lost discs” and they have a scuba group come out and clean up periodically. I also found out what happened at the park as a result of Hurricane Matthew. The park received 20 acres of water and the clubhouse was under water for 1 week. Yes, I confirmed I heard that right.

The park looked to be mostly recovered on the day I visited. While walking around, I saw several playgrounds, picnic shelters and lots of picnic tables under the trees. In addition to kids playing at the water’s edge and adults fishing, some turtles were sunning on a log. An amphitheater overlooking the water was getting a new roof compliments of the local Kiwanis Club.

The next time I’m traveling along I-95 and need a break, Luther Britt Park is where I’ll be heading! For more information on Luther Britt Park visit

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Tags:  50at50  Lumberton  parks  recreation 

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50 at 50 | April 13

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, April 13, 2018
Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2018
This week’s park visit took me to Pembroke, NC, the 2017 Small Town of the Year as awarded by the NC Rural Center. Located in Robeson County which is along our state’s southern border, Pembroke Parks and Recreation offers a lot for their just under 3000 citizens in some creative ways. All of their facilities are located at the Pembroke Recreation Complex including the parks and recreation office.

The Pembroke Recreation Complex opened in 2008. This complex houses fields for soccer, sand volleyball courts, outdoor basketball courts, a walking trail, 4 baseball/softball fields, batting cages, and a picnic shelter. The scorer’s tower in the hub of the 4 field complex houses a concession stand, restrooms and the parks and recreation director’s office. Pembroke has no indoor facilities and this is where the creativity and partnerships come into play. The department partners with the Boys & Girls Club and the school system for use of gym space, while senior programs are hosted by the housing authority and fire department. This was the first time I had heard of programs being hosted at a fire department. After learning about this, I thought about how wonderful it is that unlikely partnerships are allowing services to be provided.

I visited this park while many schools were observing spring break. There were children of various ages playing on the playground while parents and grandparents watched. The walking trail was being used and people were enjoying the park benches throughout the park. It made me smile to see a child riding his bike and so many people enjoying themselves at the park on what was a beautiful day.

For more information on Pembroke Parks & Recreation visit

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Tags:  50at50  parks  Pembroke  recreation 

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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.


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:

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 or 919-435-9457.

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

Tags:  community involvement  lgfcu  volunteer month  volunteers  young professionals  ypn 

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50 at 50 | April 6

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Wednesday, April 4, 2018

As someone who doesn’t play disc golf, I’m always amazed by the disc golf courses I see in parks. And the one still under construction at Jacob Fork Park in Newton is no exception. On a recent visit, I had the opportunity to explore the course with Assistant Director Carol Stiles. Locally $27,000 was raised to support this course through hole sponsorships. This certainly adds variety and fun to the course with the names chosen by the sponsor. Some of my favorites include Holy Me Shivers, Mounded, On Golden Pond (in honor of Parks & Recreation Director Sandra Waters), Hold on Tight and the 18th hole Oh Yeah, which is what you might say when finished! The course is designed to be a championship course with multiple par fours and several par five holes and is the case with most other courses in parks, the footprint doesn’t interfere with other park amenities. Plans are for the course to be finished around July 4th.

Jacob Fork sits on a 100-acre parcel of land owned by the City of Newton located off NC Highway 10 West in Catawba County. The site is less than a quarter of a mile from the interchange of Hwy. 10 and the U.S. Highway 321 Freeway interconnector, which is a major western NC thoroughfare connecting the Charlotte Metro area with the Hickory/Morganton/Lenoir Metro area and ultimately Boone to the northwest.

Other features at Jacob Fork Park include picnic table by the river, two softball fields, a canoe launch, fishing access, a walking track, pump track and a 2.5 mile Woodland Trail for biking and walking/running. It was great to explore this park and almost all aspects of it in use. There were even a few disc golfers taking advantage of the holes that are complete. Near one of the parking areas for the trail are a picnic table and bike repair station. As a cyclist, I don’t see many of these in parks and along greenways.

As I have seen with many park projects there are countless hours of time donated by volunteers. At Jacobs Fork, volunteers have helped build picnic tables and the Woodland Trail and currently, they are working to finish the disc golf course. Our parks are certainly fortunate to have dedicated individuals who see the vision and are willing to help by giving of their time, talents and financial resources. As we kick off Volunteer Month, if you haven’t said thank you to your volunteers, now would be a great time!

For more information on Newton Parks & Recreation visit

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Tags:  50at50  Newton  parks  recreation 

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50 at 50 | April 2

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Monday, April 2, 2018
Updated: Friday, March 30, 2018

This week’s visit is to a park so new the only amenities besides the natural beauty are a few trails that have been created and used by citizens.  Thursday, I had the honor of attending the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Lakeside Park in Valdese.  Parks & Recreation Director Doug Knight first printed off a map of this property in 2007.  The town tried to negotiate with the owner, but the property which sits on Lake Rhodhiss was sold to a developer.  Several years ago, the town negotiated with the developer to purchase 302 acres for the park.

I was impressed to see about 50 guests, including state and local elected officials, citizens and representatives from sponsors and funding sources attend this event.  It was exciting to hear Mayor Chip Black talk about the future of Valdese and what this park represents.  He shared how parks support the economy and that younger generations are looking for a place to live and then how to make a living.  He called adding the park to their system “a once in a lifetime opportunity”.  In addition to funds received from the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, they have received support from Kellex, Carolinas Healthcare Blue Ridge, and The Rostan Family Foundation.

Their biggest supporter is not a corporate entity, but a citizen.  Her name is Beth Heile.  She is the President of the Friends of Valdese Recreation group and has been the person working hand in hand with Doug Knight to bring this project to fruition.  During her remarks, she said, “faith is taking the first step when you can’t see the top of the staircase”, she then told the crowd “we had not reached the top yet, just a plateau”.  She then had the audience cheer with her “I Believed” and invited us to the park opening in 2-3 years.  It is wonderful to see citizens embrace what parks mean to a community and then take action.  If you have a “Beth” in your community, you are very fortunate and I encourage you to thank them for what they do!

The town’s website hasn’t added this park to their listing of facilities since it is not officially open for business.  To learn for about the agency and to find details on Lakeside Park in the future, visit

Ribbon Cutting photo courtesy of The Morganton News Herald

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Tags:  50at50  parks  recreation  Valdese 

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50 at 50 | March 23

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Tuesday, March 20, 2018
As you’ve read in previous blog posts, parks come in all shapes and sizes and have a variety of amenities. I recently explored a linear park also known as a greenway on a recent visit to Clayton. At 1.25 miles in length, the Sam’s Branch Greenway is an important connector as it will eventually connect to other parks, Downtown Clayton and the Clayton Community Center. Just off of the parking lot is where the greenway will continue under the road.  Opened in the spring of 2013, this stretch of greenway currently connects to the Clayton River Walk which meets up with the Neuse River Greenway in Wake County and provides about 30 miles of biking and hiking opportunities.

While exploring the greenway with Clayton Park & Recreation Director Larry Bailey, he shared how he noticed that as families were walking out on the trail the kids were happy on the way out and crying on the return trip. So he set out to find some things to add to the greenway to give kids something to do and learn along the way. As with many communities, Eagle Scouts look to parks for opportunities for a project. A recent project installed two stations along the greenway sharing information about forest animals that may be seen along the trail and the habitat around a small pond. With funds donated by The Rotary Club, picnic table and benches were installed.

At mile 1, there is a display of outdoor public art. At an overlook along Sam’s Branch, there are whimsical butterfly benches, a totem pole and a Little Free Library that was a project of a recent Miss Clayton and books donated by the Junior Women’s Club. Just past this overlook along the fencing on both sides of the greenway is an outdoor art exhibit. The acrylics on plywood project are designed and painted by art students at Clayton High, Clayton Middle, and Cooper and Powhatan Elementary Schools. This collaborative exhibit is a joint venture between the Clayton Public Art Advisory Board and the art teachers and students at Clayton Public Schools. The first installation was butterflies and the second installation is fish. After the exhibit, the art is sold at the local Harvest Festival and the proceeds go back into the next year’s project.

Anytime a greenway is near a major water source like the Neuse River, there is an opportunity for flooding. This current exhibit has already been underwater two times, once due to a hurricane and another from a major storm event. It was great to see a how a variety of local partners have come together to elevate the experience one receives while strolling, running or biking along Sam’s Branch Greenway. I highly recommend it as a place to visit and emulate.

For more information on Clayton Parks & Recreation Greenways visit

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Tags:  50at50  arts  Clayton  greenways  parks  recreation 

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