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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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50 at 50 | December 8

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, December 8, 2017
Updated: Thursday, December 7, 2017
This past weekend was the last camping trip of the year for me. I have had some great adventures camping and this last one was no exception. We headed out to Morrow Mountain State Park for a weekend of camping, hiking, campfires, time in the hammock, good food and good friends. And completely out of our control, we had wonderful weather for December.

Located in Stanly County, development of the park began in the 1930s through the efforts of a local committee interested in establishing a state park in the area. By 1937, more than 3,000 acres of land had been acquired, much of it donated by the citizens of Stanly County. The park was opened to the public in the summer of 1939. Early development of park property was a cooperative effort between state and federal governments. Work crews of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Work Projects Administration constructed many of the facilities. Additional facilities were added with state funds in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, the park covers 4,742 acres.

While exploring the park, I found a great swimming pool and community building that is connected to the park office. The day I was there, a group was prepping for an event later that day. The park also has a great museum that highlights the history of the area and the park. After the 3 mile hike from the museum to the top of Morrow Mountain, I had the opportunity to read several of the educational exhibits about the volcanic rock Rhyolite. This rock was very popular with prehistoric peoples. The rock exhibits a property called conchoidal fracture. When the rock is broken, it forms shell-like fractures that create a very sharp edge that can be shaped into sharp points, knives, scrapers, and axes.

While at the top we enjoyed our lunch at a picnic shelter that overlooked the area and even had a fireplace. After the 3 mile trek to the bottom, it was time to relax, shower and prep dinner. In my opinion, it was a great way to spend the day.

If you are looking for a quiet place to camp and maybe even enjoy the nearby rivers and lakes, consider a visit to Morrow Mountain. With one campground loop open year-round, you could always visit the next time we have an unseasonably warm weekend. Visit the State Parks website at to learn more about Morrow Mountain State Park.

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Tags:  50at50  Morrow Mountain  parks  recreation 

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YPN Blog: December 2017

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

Parks and Recreation…more than you think

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet the Author

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

Monique can be reached at or 336-373-2946

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

Tags:  carolinas joint conference  conference  student  young professionals  ypn 

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Winter is (almost) here!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, December 4, 2017
Updated: Thursday, November 30, 2017

Happy December! With the holidays, cooler temperatures, and shorter days, December can be a tough time for health and wellness. This wellness blog will give you and your department a few tips on how to promote winter wellness in your community.

While many people in your community exercise outdoors during most of the year, Winter arriving may cause changes to their routine. This could leave many people in your community without regular exercise. If your department has a fitness facility, one way to combat this would be to offer a reduced price seasonal pass to appeal to these individuals. If your community does not have a fitness center, you can still encourage people to use your facilities to stay active! Open gym sessions and group fitness courses can be great ways to get people active.

There are also a number of creative, fun winter themed ideas that your department can consider holding this winter. Artificial snow is a great option for providing the required snow when the weather’s not cooperating. At these events, snow is usually set up on a hill for sledding, or in a field for other snow activities. Even some of our departments from the coast have success with artificial snow! If your department is located near a ski resort, establish a contact with them. You could potentially hold partner events where more people can have fun in the snow. One company I have heard of that a number of our departments who hold snowy events use is Snow My Yard.

These fun events are great ways to promote physical activity! According to Orthopedic surgeon Angela Smith from, ice skating builds muscles, boosts balance, flexibility, quickness, and agility. Additionally,  Both sledding and other traditional snow activities burn calories and are fun ways to get people active in the colder weather.

Last year, the Wellness Blog discussed an annual snow event hosted by Swansboro Parks and Recreation. Click this link to review the old blog post.

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

Until next time,


Tags:  fitness  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness  winter 

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50 at 50 | December 1

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, December 1, 2017
Updated: Thursday, November 30, 2017
In 1998 as an NCSU student doing my internship, I spent my summer in Cabarrus County working with what is now Cabarrus Active Living and Parks. Through the years, I have maintained friendships with many of those who helped me get real-world experiences that summer and have had to opportunity to also work with them professionally. In the 29 years since I’ve been gone, they have added new parks and expanded on the school park program. On a recent visit in the area, I was able to visit Rob Wallace Park.

Rob Wallace Park is a 143-acre park with natural habitat and plans that will phase the land into a modern and green space. The park has a boardwalk, fishing pond, mountain and bike trails, playground and picnic areas, and the park office. Future plans include nature classrooms, additional play areas, piers and trails that use the natural resources in the area. And from the website, I found out an aerial adventure park is under consideration for this space.

My Saturday morning visit included time to walk some of the trails, especially the path around the fishing pond, and enjoy the porch swing out by the pond and garden. While out in the park, I noticed what I thought was trash in the woods and later realized it was part of the Woodland Wonders trail, complete with a sign indicating I should explore at my own risk. At the picnic shelter, I saw a very nice sign that was hinged to indicate how the shelter can be reserved and that it has already been reserved (check out the photos to see this). I love how our park & recreation agencies are informing captive audiences. This is the second time, I’ve been informed about upcoming park events while in the bathroom. Very clever to have a sign that can be updated over the hand dryer.

Before leaving the park, I went inside the park office to find a number of exhibits. While talking to a staff member, he told me about a trail camera in the park and how they have ‘captured’ deer, wild turkeys, and bobcat. But his final greeting to me as I left the building was the most impactful. He said, “Enjoy your Park”. It was fantastic to encounter someone who has this kind of enthusiasm for their park and wanted to share it with me.

For more information on Rob Wallace Park located at 12900 Bethel School Road in Midland, visit

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Tags:  50at50  Cabarrus County  parks  recreation 

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Holiday Family Health and Wellness

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, November 27, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, November 21, 2017

With the holiday season upon us, now is the perfect time for you and your department to promote family friendly health and wellness in your community. Children are out of school for winter break and their parents/guardians likely having a few days off. This creates a great opportunity for family health and wellness! This wellness blog will give you a few easy ideas to promote family health and wellness in your lives as well as your community.

According to a PBS article, “Children are watching their parents’ every move, mirroring their every action; if parents are sedentary, there is a good chance their children will be too.” The article goes on to state “However, parents who eat healthily and exercise with their children on a regular basis are teaching them many valuable lessons.” Participating in health activities as a family is a great way to promote health and wellness to children, and may help create long-lasting habits in a child’s life.

Have you heard of the #OptOutside movement? Each year, REI (and a few other retail stores) close for Black Friday, and encourage the public to get outside  and active. This movement uses the social media hashtag #OptOutside and encourages people to post pictures of their outdoor experience. Although your department will likely not start a national campaign, encouraging families to get outside during their vacation time can be an easy and effective way to promote health and wellness.

First, select a park, trail, or activity that is family friendly in your community. Make sure that your location is appropriate for people of all ages. Once your ideal family-friendly location is selected, start spreading the word to your community by using social media, flyers, and other ways of communication. Be sure to emphasize that this is a great way to spend quality family time together during the holidays. Sometimes, it just takes a little push to get people outside and active! Create a local hashtag for family’s to use to share their experience on social media!

Additionally, your department may be holding seasonal events to celebrate this time of year. Whether you are holding a holiday themed 5k, winter wonderland, New Years celebration, parade, or other special event, there are some easy ways to encourage family health and wellness. Set up a table at the event that includes family friendly and healthy holiday recipes.

Below, are a few additional ways to promote family health and wellness in your community this holiday season:

  • Family Scavenger Hunt: One way to get families active and engaged in your parks is to create a family scavenger hunt! Write holiday related clues for 10 to 15 objects in your park or facility and print out a few copies of the objects. Families can then complete the scavenger hunt by taking photos of the objects. Once the hunt is completed, a small prize can be given out.

  • Family Fun Night: Family fun nights are a great way to get the whole family engaged. When planning a family fun night, choose games that are appropriate for the whole family. Simple games like capture the flag and obstacle courses come to my mind. Most importantly, provide a safe space and opportunity for active family fun.  A past wellness blog post discussed family fun nights in depth.

  • Family Cooking Courses: Family cooking courses can be used to introduce fun, easy and healthy recipes that are appropriate for the whole family. There are a lot of good resources online for finding family-friendly healthy recipes. Try Food Network or All Recipes for help.

  • Family Walking Group: Walking groups are a different way to get families active. Start a walking group geared towards families! Children, teenagers, and parents can connect with each other while walking in safe and fun locations. The NCRPA Wellness Webinars have covered running and walking groups in the past. Check out recordings of these webinars for extra help!

I hope that this blog post has given you some ways to promote family health and wellness in your community! If your department has a great family wellness program, I’d love to hear about it. Email me at to share!

Until next time,


Tags:  Family  Family Time  Health  NCRPA Wellness 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, November 20, 2017
Updated: Monday, November 13, 2017

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is almost here! With the holiday season upon us, it can be hard to keep up with normal healthy routines. This wellness blog will give you some tips to have a healthy holiday.


It would not be Thanksgiving without the delicious food! The big event of the day for many American families is gathering around the table and sharing an indulgent meal. While this one day of delicious food will likely be a part of your traditions forever, there are a few simple ways to make the day a bit healthier that will leave you feeling better at the end of the day.


1. Eat your vegetables:  Roasted vegetables can be a tasty and healthy Thanksgiving side dish! Instead of filling up on less healthy options, eat extra roasted vegetables instead. Not only will eating extra vegetables help you avoid less healthy options, but they can be a great source of nutrients.

2. Portion control is key: On Thanksgiving Day when all of the food looks so delicious, I sometimes find myself eating way more than I probably should. This results in me feeling terrible after the meal. To avoid this feeling, make sure you use appropriate portion control! This article has some easy guidelines to follow to make sure your feast is appropriately sized.  

3. Don’t skip meals: I must admit that in the past, Thanksgiving dinner was my only meal of the day. Although you may think that skipping breakfast will “leave more space” for dinner, it is an unhealthy game to play. Instead eat a light, healthy breakfast to start your day. Skipping breakfast (and meals in general) can lead to overeating later in the day.

4. Incorporate exercise into your day: If the weather is nice, Thanksgiving can be a great day to go for a relaxing walk outside. Gather your friends and family and make it a new tradition! Additionally on Black Friday, “#OptOutside”, get active and find time to explore one of your local parks.

5. Help clean-up after the meal: Although this tip is not the most fun, doing normal household chores can actually be a great way to burn calories! So between the food, family, and football, help clean up!


If your department is having a Thanksgiving celebration, try adopting some of these practices. You can still promote wellness in the workplace, while enjoying all that Thanksgiving has to offer. I hope you all have a healthy and happy Thanksgiving!


Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  thanksgiving  Wellness 

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50 at 50 | November 17

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, November 17, 2017
Updated: Thursday, November 16, 2017
When I turned off Rocky River Road in Charlotte into Reedy Creek Park, I didn’t realize all the great things I was going to find on the inside.  The park and preserve are a combined 927 acres.  In the 125 acre park, I found athletic fields, shelters, a disc golf course, community garden, ponds, fishing piers, and a dog park.  One observation I had at the dog park was a gentleman with braces on both of his knees.  As he was watching his dog run and frolic with other dogs, I realized this might be the only opportunity for exercise for the dog.   

Reedy Creek Nature Preserve preserves habitat for 109 species of birds, 15 species of mammals, 20 species of reptiles, and 12 species of amphibians and has 10 miles of hiking trails. 

At the end of the main road, I found myself at a T intersection, I went left and found the Carolina Panthers themed Play 60 challenge course which opened on October 11.  Represented by Cunningham Recreation, this is the10th GameTime Challenge Course in NC.  First created five years ago, this course is “NFL combine meets Ninja Warrior”.  The Challenge Course is an obstacle course that incorporates elements of an NFL Combine workout and the popular Ninja Warrior activities.  It also features a 40-yard dash with precision timing.  At the start, I found a ‘pep talk’ with recorded words of encouragement from various Carolina Panthers players.  In addition to having a timed 40-yard dash, there is a time-tracking element for completing the course.  Through the app available to participants, you can track and compare your times with others on this course or other GameTime Challenge Courses.  It was great to watch kids, both young and old, try multiple times to improve upon their times.

Upon returning to the T intersection, I headed towards the Nature Center.  Built in 1982, the center features live, native animals, an exhibit hall, a classroom, and a gift shop. Outside, there is a National Wildlife Federation certified Backyard Habitat Garden which includes bird feeding stations, butterfly gardens, and a demonstration compost area and nature play area.  While in the restroom, I discovered a unique publication - "The Reedy Creek Toilet Paper".  Taped to the mirror, it was a 1-page flyer about events and features all happening at the Nature Center. Talk about reaching a captive audience while washing your hands!

Reedy Creek Park & Nature Preserve have so many features to appeal to the many varied interests of citizens.  I was impressed with how well the active and passive components of the park were intertwined to provide enjoyable opportunities to everyone. For more information on Reedy Creek Park and the Nature Preserve and Center, visit

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Tags:  50at50  Carolina Panthers  GameTime  Lowes  Meckleburg County  nature  parks  recreation 

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Parks for Health

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, November 13, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A recent NRPA “Park Pulse” survey found that three in five Americans would take up walking or jogging through local parks and trails if they were advised to be more physically active by a doctor! This wellness blog will detail some of the findings, and share some ways for your department to get involved.

In the past few years, the idea of Park Prescriptions has been increasingly growing. Doctors are essentially prescribing their patients to go outside and get active, something that often involves using local park systems.  (to find out more about the Park Prescription model, please check out this website!) The findings of the survey indicate that the general public agrees with and is willing to accept this model.

Below, I’ve included some of the key findings from the Park Pulse survey, courtesy of NRPA:

  • Over 3 in 5 Americans (63 percent) would take up walking or jogging through local parks, trails or around the neighborhood if they were advised to be more physically active by a doctor

  • One in three Americans say they would work out at a local gym or rec center

  • Baby boomers are more likely than Gen Xers or millennials to take up walking or jogging through local parks, trails or around the neighborhood if they were advised to be more physically active by a doctor

  • One in three parents would ride a bicycle at a local park, trail or around the neighborhood versus one in four adults without a child in the home saying they would do the same

So how can your department tap into this movement? Try approaching your local physicians with some of the results of the survey! It does not have to be a full-blown park prescription program, but rather letting the medical professional that your facilities would be a great resource for their patients to use to exercise.

If your department is interested in establishing a partnership with medical professionals, here are a few tips to help:

  • Compile materials to distribute to medical professionals.

  • Get creative when looking for potential medical provider partners

    • Use the internet, phonebook, and word-of-mouth when finding medical providers to partner with.

    • University medical programs, local hospitals, and private practices can be potential partner

It is great to know that parks and recreation is being looked at as a potential solution to fight against the health afflictions that are affecting America. Through your programs and facilities, our field can make a big difference, and it’s great to know that others are realizing it too.

Until next time,


Tags:  Health and Wellness  Healthy Living  ncrpa wellness  Wellness 

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50 at 50 | November 10

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, November 10, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, November 8, 2017
On a recent trip to Charlotte, I made a stop in Archdale and found Creekside Park. Not far from Interstate 85, I found a big park with amenities for most everyone. As I entered the park, there were ballfields, tennis courts and a senior center. A little farther down the road was the Randolph Community College's Archdale Center. Built in 1990 and expanded in 2006 to serve the changing needs of the northwest community of Randolph County, the center was extensively renovated in 2011. What a great partnership and nice option for students to take a study break in the park.

Along the road were picnic shelters and more fields. At the end of the road was the recreation center and playground. Periodically I saw that ‘basket on a pole’ that we know marks a disc golf course. It was great to see lots of kids enjoying the playground and several youth riding their bikes through the park.

There was one thing I was looking for and didn’t find - the Orienteering Course (this is your cue to LOL if you got that!). Based on their website, the course is 1.24 miles consisting of 12 control points, where an individual or group can test their navigation skills through diverse terrain. An alternate .57 mile course is also available which avoids the woods. Whether for leisure or competition, participants can race against the clock to locate the control points. All that is needed to complete the course is a compass, or a smartphone compass application, and the course map listing the distance and direction to each control point and showing their location relative to park features. This course was added to the park as an Eagle Scout Service Project.

When I returned to Raleigh, I realized why I didn’t find the course. I didn’t plan ahead by printing the map and packing the compass I found on the trail during my last hiking trip. Next time, I’ll be better prepared!

With about 103 acres, Creekside Park is the main recreation hub for the community and the recreation center houses all of the recreation offices. The park got started by a group called the Park Committee and became part of the city in 1979.  For more information on the park, visit

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  50at50  Archdale  parks  recreation 

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YPN Blog: November 2017

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

From playing the game to leading the game

Parks and Recreation Professionals,

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

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

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

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

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

Meet the Author

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

Joseph can be reached at or (919) 742-2699

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

Tags:  involvement  professional development  young professionals  ypn 

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November is American Diabetes Month

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, November 6, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 31, 2017

I can’t believe that it is already November! If you did not know, November is American Diabetes Month, as designated by the American Diabetes Association. This wellness blog will give some brief background of diabetes and the links to physical activity and healthy nutrition, and give your department a few ideas to implement programming to help combat against it.

According to the American Diabetes Association, “Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease”. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Different factors, including genetics and some viruses, may contribute to type 1 diabetes. Despite active research, type 1 diabetes has no cure. Treatment focuses on managing blood sugar levels with insulin, diet and lifestyle to prevent complications.”

The other type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes. According to the Mayo Clinic “More common in adults, type 2 diabetes increasingly affects children as childhood obesity increases. There's no cure for type 2 diabetes, but you may be able to manage the condition by eating well, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight. If diet and exercise aren't enough to manage your blood sugar well, you also may need diabetes medications or insulin therapy.” There is also evidence that type 2 diabetes

It may be shocking, but one in 11 Americans are living with diabetes.While the risk factors and cause of type 1 diabetes are not conclusive, there are a number of associations between type 2 diabetes and inactivity, poor diet, obesity, and high blood pressure. This is where your department programming can come into play.

Some departments offer healthy cooking and nutrition courses based on the special needs of different ailments. If your department has the capacity to offer cooking courses, try offering a diabetes nutrition course! This could be a multi-week course, or even a one time only special program. Check out this webpage for some quick meals for people with diabetes. Additionally, the American Diabetes Association offers a cookbook with easy meals, grocery lists, and nutritional information.

For both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, physical activity is extremely important. Exercises courses geared towards individuals living with diabetes could be an option! As with offering exercise programs for anyone, there are a few precautions to take. First, exercise and physical activity can lower blood sugar in individuals with diabetes. If your department is offering exercise, follow the guidelines detailed at this link.

Additionally, go over these 11 injury free exercise tips from the American Diabetes Association to help ensure that your participants are being safe.

Lastly, check out this page to see how your department can get involved in American Diabetes Month.

Until next time,

Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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50 at 50 | November 3

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, November 3, 2017
Updated: Monday, October 30, 2017
On a recent return trip from a meeting, I drove past Anderson Community Park located off of Highway 54 in Carrboro. This 55-acre park features baseball and softball fields, basketball, sand volleyball and tennis courts, horseshoe pits, disc golf course, dog park, fishing pond, a half-mile walking trail, and playground, along with shelters and open space.

I arrived at the park mid-afternoon and set out to explore. My first stop was the dog park where I saw a few citizens and their 4-legged friends enjoying the enclosed space. My next stop was the walking trail near the fishing pond. According to the sign posted by the NC Wildlife Commission, you can expect to catch Channel Catfish. It is always great to see partnerships between parks and recreation and other state and federal organizations to provide services to the community. While at the lake, which is very close to the highway, I didn’t notice the road noise due to a buffer of trees and the fountain in the lake. While an aesthetically pleasing feature, and it helped buffer the sound, I’m guessing the fountain also serves other purposes.

It is always interesting to see families together when I am at a park. On this visit, a father along with what I assume were his son and daughter came up to the basketball courts to shoot some hoops. While the son was doing most of the shooting, the daughter was doing cartwheels and entertaining herself. Occasionally she stopped to shoot a basket or rebound and then it was back to the cartwheels. I also got to view an ultimate frisbee practice taking place where the kids were learning different techniques or doing conditioning drills.

One thing that caught my eye was a sign listing all the rules. Most every park has them that lists the “don’t dos” while you are in the park. But what I loved about this sign was the last statement. It read, “This park is your park, please assist in the effort to maintain a safe, clean environment for your enjoyment”. Wow! What a nice way to end a list of rules with a positive statement and reminder that this “your park”!

If you find yourself in the Carrboro area, swing by Anderson Community Park and check it out for yourself. You can find more information online at

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Tags:  50at50  Carrboro  parks  recreation 

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Last Minute Halloween Safety Tips!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, October 30, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Halloween is tomorrow! A big part of wellness is promoting safety in our communities. This wellness blog will give your department some quick tips and best practices to promote in advance to the big day tomorrow.

According to, “On average, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year.” Dark clothing, coupled with dark road conditions and heavy foot traffic on the streets can make trick-or-treating a dangerous affair.

While trick-or-treating in your community may not be happening in park and recreation facilities, your department can still help spread tips and best practices to help ensure safety. Below, I’ve compiled a list of quick Halloween safety tips from the National Safety Council, Safe Kid’s Worldwide, and the CDC for both trick-or-treaters and motorists:

  • Teach your children to never enter a stranger's home or car

  • Tell your children not to eat any treats until they return home

  • If children are allowed out after dark, fasten reflective tape to their costumes and bags, or give them glow sticks

  • Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.  Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.

  • Watch for children walking on roadways, medians, and curbs

  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully

  • Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you

  • Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. WALK and don’t run from house to house.

  • Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.

There are some simple ways that your department can help spread these tips to your community! First, use your social media platforms to share some of these best practices. Post a list of Halloween safety tips that apply to your community!

Additionally, if your department has any out of school time programs, use the time leading up to Halloween night to help educate your participants. Print handouts of these Halloween Tips to send home with the kids!  Activities like this word scramble would be great to do to drive some of these safety tips home!

I hope that you have a great Halloween!

Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  safety  Youth Safety 

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50 at 50 | October 27

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, October 27, 2017
Updated: Thursday, October 26, 2017
I love camping and last weekend I found myself on a camping trip to Staunton River State Park in Virginia about 25 miles from the NC border. One of Virginia’s original state parks it was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and opened in 1936. In 1952, with the completion of the John H. Kerr Dam and the formation of Buggs Island Lake, part of the park was flooded. With 2,400-acres, the park offers woodlands, meadows, and shoreline along the Dan and Staunton rivers. The park also has Olympic-sized and wading pools, picnic shelters, three playgrounds, tennis and volleyball courts, several boat launches and more than 17 miles of multi-use trails. Buggs Island Lake, offers freshwater fishing and boating, along with water skiing and many other aquatic activities. Most of my time was spent in the campground or out on the trails.

In the campground, it was very dark at night. The only light provided was a dim light outside of the bathhouse. When you looked around, there were not many lights at all. And there is a unique reason for this. The park is the first state park in Virginia to be designated an International Dark Sky Park and is ideal for stargazing. The park management became aware of the appeal of the site’s naturally dark nighttime character and began welcoming visitors to take advantage of viewing its dark night skies. In addition to park staff offering associated interpretive programs and rents telescopes, they also host the Staunton River Star Party.

The Star Party was taking place while I was there and on Saturday night they invited the community to join them and look through their telescopes. What does it mean to attend a Star Party? Phones, flashlights, and headlights had to be covered with a red film to limit light pollution. We walked to the viewing field from the campground. I was glad I had seen the area in the daylight because even using a red light made seeing where I was going a bit of a challenge.

Once inside the observation area, The hosts were very friendly and provided educational information about what we were viewing and what was needed to get started in this hobby.
When your eyes adjust to being outside in an area where there is very limited light pollution, you can see so many more stars. It was inspiring to look at the stars. We just missed seeing Saturn when we arrived. The next Staunton River Star Party is March 14-18, 2018.

In addition to hiking and stargazing, there was time spent in the hammock, by the campfire, telling stories and enjoying good food and time with friends! Not a bad way to send a weekend.

For more information on Staunton River State Park visit and for the Staunton River Star Party visit

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Tags:  50at50  Parks  Recreation  stargazing 

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10-minute Walk Campaign

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, October 23, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 17, 2017

NRPA is partnering with The Trust for Public Land and the Urban Land Institute on a nationwide 10-Minute Walk Campaign. The goal of this campaign is to ensure that each person in every US city has a park within a 10-minute walk.

According to NRPA, one and three Americans do not have a park within a 10-minute walk. That’s a number totaling more than 100 million people! The 10-minute Walk campaign aims to change this alarming statistic.

The 10-minute Walk campaign is the start of a multi-year partnership between cities and mayors across America to increase access to parks. According to NRPA, “Beginning in 2018, the campaign partners will be working with cities across the country on measurable policies and strategies to advance the 10-minute walk vision.”

A 10-minute walk to a park is important for a variety of reasons. First, the health and wellness benefits of park access are overwhelming. Research shows that walking for 30 minutes per day reduces the risk for depression, heart disease, obesity, and osteoporosis. Additionally, people living within a 10-minute walk of a park are more likely to participate in physical activity, and have lower rates of obesity. For more information on the health benefits of walking in local parks, check out this video!

In addition to the health benefits associated with parks, NRPA cites a number of other reasons that demonstrate the importance of having access to parks. Click here to view the research behind these benefits!

Interested in getting involved in the 10-minute Walk Campaign? Click this link to see all of the cities that have already signed up. As of now, Durham, Charlotte, and Greensboro have entered the commitment. One way to support the campaign is by thanking mayors and sharing the campaign in your cities. Some ways to do this include:

  • Thank participating mayors for making parks a priority

  • Ask new mayors to publicly endorse the campaign

  • Share the 10-minute walk vision with your professional and personal network

Also, share some of these promotional materials to educate your community about the campaign, and to generate more interest in walking efforts.

You can also personally sign up to support this effort at this website. Encourage interested citizens, elected officials, and media members to also sign up.

Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  walking  Wellness 

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