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


Search all posts for:   


Top tags: Wellness  Recreation  parks  NCRPA Wellness  50at50  NCRPA  Healthy Living  young professionals  Health  ypn  Wellness bulletin  healthy eating  #Ncrecre8  fitness  NRPA  Health and Wellness  Programs  Tips  Blogs  Community Gardens  DiscoverNCParks  professional development  Family  Organization  Youth Programs  Active Lifestyle  Awareness  Association  Community Building  conference 

Move More, Walk Now Workshop

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, September 4, 2017
Updated: Monday, August 28, 2017

Are you interested in supporting walking initiatives in your community? If so, you don’t want to miss this opportunity! Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina is sponsoring their Move More, Walk Now workshop in Cary, NC on September 20th from 9:30 - 3:30. This wellness blog will detail the workshop and provide registration information. The registration deadline is this Friday, September 8th!

Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina is  “a statewide movement that promotes increased opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity wherever people live, learn, earn, play and pray.” To support their mission of “Reversing the rising tide of obesity and chronic disease among North Carolinians by helping them to eat smart, move more and achieve a healthy weight,” the organization offers educational opportunities to the community, such as the upcoming Move More, Walk Now workshop.

The Move More, Walk Now workshop is geared towards “anyone interested in learning more

about supporting walking efforts in their community.” This most definitely includes recreation and park professionals like yourself.

The workshop will be facilitated by Mark Fenton, who spoke at our 2012 conference. Fenton is “a national public health, planning, and transportation consultant and former host of the America’s Walking series on PBS television.”

Move More, Walk Now has been described as an interactive workshop. Attendees will have the chance to participate in a neighborhood walkability audit. A walkability audit is a participatory walk guided by trained facilitators, in which participants will look for fundamental environmental elements that encourage and discourage active lifestyles. The general purpose of an audit is to identify concerns for pedestrians and bicyclists related to the safety, access, comfort, and convenience of the environment. In addition to identifying problem areas, an audit can be used to identify potential alternatives or solutions.

Additionally, attendees will learn to identify features that encourage biking and wheeling and how “pop-ups” can be used to demonstrate changes that will create more walkable communities.

Interested in attending this workshop? Click this link for the registration form.  Since this event is open to any interested people in the state, I would love to see a big representation of recreation and park professionals!

If your agency is not able to pay for your registration fee, financial assistance may be available. Agencies in the following counties are eligible: Alamance, Caswell, Chatham, Durham, Guilford, Orange, Person, Rockingham, and Wake. Contact Jennifer Delcourt, Active Routes to School Region 5 Coordinator, at for more information. To find out if assistance is available in other counties, visit to connect with your regional coordinator.

Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

Share |

50 at 50 - September 1

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, September 1, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Welcome to September and what has been an unseasonably cool week.  I recently made a trip to the Town of Wake Forest where I met Director Ruben Wall, Athletics Superintendent Ed Austin and Recreation Program Superintendent Monica Lileton.  While in their office, I got to see the graphic they are using to check off the 150 standards of CAPRA accreditation and their Road to Indianapolis!  

After visiting a few of their parks, we found our way to E. Carroll Joyner Park.  The park is 117 acres and became part of the Wake Forest park system in 2009. This park currently has 33 unused acres and will be the site of a new community center scheduled to come online in 2019. This land was once owned by the Walker Family, and there is a flower garden dedicated to them along with several farm buildings.  Just before becoming a park, the property was owned by E. Carroll Joyner and was used as a cattle farm for 35 years.  

With no ball fields or playgrounds, it looks like a passive park, but there is so much to do there.  With a 1000 seat amphitheater and 171 parking spaces, it is good to have space for overflow parking.  The park hosts summer concerts, movie nights and about 20 events each year.  There are 3.1 miles of greenway in the park.  On the day I was there, outdoor fitness equipment was being installed along the greenway.  The park maintenance facility is on the backside of the park, and they have a tree nursery where volunteers grow trees to be used in the park system.  Joyner Park is the site of weddings and a popular location for prom and family photo shoots.  

There were three things that stood out to me.  First was the pecan grove. This area has probably 15-20 mature pecan trees that form a shady area in the park and provide pecans for citizens.  The second was an impressive free-standing rock wall with only gravity and well-placed rocks holding it together.. The rock walls are located around the park and compliment the ‘farm feel’ of the park.  Lastly, is a natural area that is part of the Butterfly Highway. The meadow is a refuge offering food and shelter for the Monarch Butterfly and Eastern Meadowlark.

And while we were approaching the pecan grove, a young deer couldn’t decide which way to go with us coming from one direction and a young boy coming from the other.  With that "deer in the headlights look," it sprinted away, and every time it got to the asphalt greenway, it leaped over it providing smiles and entertainment to us. 

If you are in the Wake Forest area, check out E. Carroll Joyner Park for yourself. More information is available at 

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  50at50  parks  recreation  Wake Forest 

Share |

TRACK Trails

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, August 28, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 24, 2017

NCRPA is partnering with Kids in Parks and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation to offer TRACK Trail Grants! Check out this wellness blog to learn more about TRACK Trails and to see if your department is eligible to apply. 

TRACK Trails is a unique program that aligns with the mission of the NCRPA Wellness Initiative.  “The Kids in Parks TRACK Trails program was formed through a partnership between the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation in an attempt to simultaneously fight two of the ailments that face our youth today: nature deficit disorder and childhood obesity.”  

According to the Kids in Parks website, “Kids in Parks is an expanding network of family-friendly outdoor adventures called TRACK Trails. Each TRACK Trail features self-guided brochures and signs that turn your visit into a fun and exciting outdoors experience.”

Essentially, TRACK Trails provides signage and brochures to turn any trail into an interactive experience. Each TRACK Trail location is logged on an online map, giving people the opportunity to plan their trip in advance. Additionally, children are encouraged to TRACK their adventures online to receive prizes! This challenge aspect encourages children to get up and outside to discover their next adventure. 

Kids in Parks currently has 81 TRACK Trail locations in North Carolina. The new round of grants will provide funding for 20 additional TRACK Trails in North Carolina, in counties that do not already have existing trails. If you are in one of the eligible counties, please consider applying! We would love to see at least one TRACK trail in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. This table shows a list of eligible counties:

To learn more about Kid's in Parks and the TRACK Trail program, watch a recording of our July Wellness WebinarJason Urroz, Director of Kids in Parks, joined us to discuss information regarding the TRACK Trail grants, as well as the health programming that Kids in Parks facilitates.

If you are interested in applying for a TRACK Trail grant, click this link for more information and the application. I hope that you take advantage of this opportunity!

Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

Share |

50 at 50 - August 25

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, August 25, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 24, 2017

This week’s post is from South Carolina and a trip that has been in the works since late 2016.  I went to Lake Hartwell to be in the path of totality of the Great American Eclipse and it was AWESOME!  Lake Hartwell is a man-made reservoir bordering Georgia and South Carolina on the Savannah, Tugaloo, and Seneca Rivers. The lake is created by Hartwell Dam located on the Savannah River and comprises nearly 56,000 acres of water with a shoreline of 962 miles. 

An extended weekend camping trip was the best way to avoid traffic.  We camped at Twin Lakes Campground which is one of the 9 campgrounds managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Hartwell.  The Twin Lakes area also has a day use area with shelters, swimming beach, boat ramp and fishing pier.  

When not swimming or floating in the lake, there were ample opportunities for bird watching.  Lake Hartwell is home to more than 250 species of birds.  When we first arrived, we were greeted by a hawk at our campsite and over the course of our stay, we saw great blue herons, ospreys, and numerous other birds.

The main attraction was the eclipse.  With eclipse viewing glasses in hand, we watched as the moon first crossed in front of the sun.  As 2:37 pm approached, the excitement began to build. The people at the swimming beach got quiet and came to the water’s edge.  The temperature cooled and the sky darkened. Then it happened. The moon completely blocked the sun from view and the corona was visible for about 2 minutes and 30 seconds!

Since this experience, I have found it hard to find the right words to adequately describe what I experienced. Fabulous, amazing, remarkable, breathtaking, and unbelievable are some of the words that come to mind.   

If you were in NC, where most saw only 90-95% totality, you missed the real show!  I encourage you to put this on your bucket list.  Your next opportunity to view a total solar eclipse in the contiguous US is April 8, 2024. The path of totality will enter at Texas and exit through Maine.  That is just a little less than 7 years from now.  Based on the number of people who saw the eclipse on Monday and those who missed it and say they will be in totality in 2024, I think it is time for all of us to make our plans!

For more information on Lake Hartwell visit

PS - it is fun to demonstrate the eclipse with an orange and sausage patty as shown in one of the photos

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  50at50  eclipse2017  parks  recreation 

Share |

Wellness Resources

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, August 21, 2017
Updated: Friday, August 11, 2017

Implementing a new wellness policy or program in your department can be extremely difficult. The NCRPA Wellness Initiative strives to make this process a bit easier. Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen a variety of different resources that I want to share with you all. This wellness blog will give you a few resources to implement wellness programs in your department.

  • NCRPA TRACK Trail Grants: NCRPA is partnering with Kids in Parks and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation to offer TRACK Trail Grants! TRACK Trails provides signage and brochures to turn any trail into an interactive experience. Each TRACK Trail location is logged on an online map, giving people the opportunity to plan their trip in advance. Additionally, children are encouraged to TRACK their adventures online to receive prizes! To learn more about TRACK Trails and our TRACK Trail grants, watch a recording of our July Wellness Webinar. Click this link for the application.

  • Want to start a community garden? A grant opportunity is opening up in September from the Whole Kids Foundation. “The Extended Learning Garden Grant program provides a $2,000 monetary grant to a non-profit children’s programming organization, working with children ages K–12, to support an edible educational garden.” Click this link to learn more about this grant opportunity.

  • NRPA is developing a community and home gardening curriculum. According to NRPA, the curriculum provides “resources and activities that encourage hands on exploration with growing, cooking and tasting healthy produce, as well as creating sustainable year-round gardening systems.” Click this link to view the curriculums - a new topic is being added each month.

  • Having an outdoor event soon? The National Wildlife Federation has a cool opportunity! “The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) provides free native tree seedlings to NWF partners who in turn plant them through local restoration projects or community tree giveaway events. Tree giveaway events typically involve distributing seedlings to individuals that will plant the trees and care for them at home.” Click this link to learn more about the seedling opportunity and to become an NWF partner.

I hope that you will utilize the resources discussed in today’s blog! If you have any resources that you would like to share, please email me at

Until next time,


Tags:  NCRPA Wellness  resources  Wellness 

Share |

50 at 50 - August 18

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, August 18, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Sometimes you find a hidden gem without looking for it. That was the case with this week’s park. I recently made a trip to the central part of our state and took an exit to grab dinner. By missing a turn, I found Joe C. Davidson Park in Burlington. What a nice surprise to find a ‘new to me” park by accident.

Joe C. Davidson Park is one of the most recently developed parks within the system. Designed with its primary focus being youth sports, it has fields for soccer, softball, and baseball. There is a playground plus tennis and volleyball courts. I saw a number people out on the 3/4 mile walking track that encompasses the perimeter of the park. The was also a large picnic shelter sponsored by the Kiwanis Club.

Doing a quick Google search, I found out the park has its own Facebook page - although it is unofficial and not managed by the city. I enjoyed seeing posts from citizens who were out walking, playing with their dogs, and making recommendations on the playground and walking trails.

I chatted with Tony Laws, Burlington Parks and Recreation Director about the park and Joe Davidson. NCRPA has a plaque in our office with the names of our past presidents and I found Joe Davidson listed in 1963. Joe became the director in Burlington in the mid-late 50’s and served the department close to 40 years.

Opened in the early 1990’s, Joe C. Davidson Park is 42 acres and when it was built it was in a very rural area of town. Now it is only 0.8 miles from Alamance Crossings, the shopping center, right off of I-40 at the University Drive exit and there is an apartment complex across the street from the park.

There is a unique feature at the park, a water tower. This water tower was added after the park was built when the city needed an elevated location to add a tower that would increase the water pressure. With the addition of the tower, they lost the potential to enlarge an existing building that could have become a small community center. As part of the process, recreation & parks asked for the Burlington logo to be added to the tower and it now serves as a landmark for the park. I thought it was a nice icon in the middle of the park

For more information on Joe Davidson Park visit

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  #NCRecre8  50at50  Burlington  parks  recreation 

Share |

Solar Eclipse Safety

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, August 14, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 10, 2017

Next Monday, August 21st, is the day of the Great American Eclipse! Luckily, North Carolina is a great state to watch the event. Today’s wellness blog will give you tips to safely view the eclipse, and a few ideas to get people out and active in your parks.  

If you remember from elementary school science class, a solar eclipse is when the moon moves in between the sun and the earth (Click this link for more information). This creates a stunning view and is sure to get people outside flocking to parks. The solar eclipse next week is a rare one with all 50 States being able to view the eclipse, and some areas (including a few counties in western NC) being able to see the event in 100% totality.

In North Carolina, all of our counties will be able to experience the eclipse with at least 75% totality.One great resource to map out how the eclipse will look in your town is Type in your zip code and the website will show you how much of the sun will be blocked out, what time the event will occur, how long it will last, and more.

The eclipse brings a great opportunity to our state, and particularly our parks. Weather permitting, people will want to get outside to view the event. Below are a few things for you and your department to consider for the event next week.

Viewing the sun safely is a huge concern during the eclipse. According to NASA, “It is never safe to look directly at the sun's rays – even if the sun is partly obscured. When watching a partial eclipse you must wear eclipse glasses at all times if you want to face the sun, or use an alternate indirect method. This also applies during a total eclipse up until the time when the sun is completely and totally blocked.”  It is important to note that standard sunglasses are NOT eclipse glasses and will not give you the protection you need. Please take the appropriate precautions when viewing the eclipse, and encourage your community to as well. 


If you are planning on taking anyone (especially children) who are enrolled in your programs outside to experience the event, it is very important that they are taught to properly view the eclipse. As discussed earlier, viewing the eclipse without proper eyewear can be very dangerous.  Share educational resources and knowledge about not looking directly into the sun.  I would also recommend sharing safety information with the children's parents or guardians regarding the eclipse. Additionally, It’s a good idea to practice wearing approved eclipse glasses or viewing the event through a pinhole camera.

A great way to get people outside and active in your parks for the eclipse is to let the public know the great places to view the event. Find a place in one of your parks that has an un-obscured view of the sun. Great places could be over a lake, beach front, river, open field or a high elevation hill without total tree coverage are ideal! Places with a short hike or walk involved are a great way to get people active. Once a location is selected, take to social media to tell people the desired locations. In these social media posts, be sure to include information about safely viewing the eclipse.  


Additionally, if you purchased or are planning to purchase eclipse glasses, you need to make sure they are from a NASA approved vendor. A full list of reputable vendors of solar eclipse glasses can be found here. If it turns out that your eclipse glasses are not reputable, there is still time to purchase some! Try calling around to hardware stores, libraries, gas stations and big stores like Walmart or Toys R Us to see if they have any in stock. You also want to make sure your eclipse glasses are not scratched or damaged in any way. Even a small scratch or hole on the lenses can cause serious damage to your eyes. If planning on actually distributing glasses to your community, it may be a good idea to consult your legal department. 


If you do not have eclipse glasses to use and are not planning on purchasing any, there are still a few options that will allow you to safely view the event. One easy way is to make a pinhole camera out of paper, foil, and tape. This would also be a great craft to bring to your department. Set out supplies and instruct people on how to make their own viewer! Then, go outside and practice safe viewing techniques. When using this method, stand with your back to the sun. This craft could be set up a table in a park or facility on the eclipse day to ensure that everyone has the means to safely view the eclipse.

I hope that you have a fun and safe eclipse viewing experience! If you or your department are doing anything cool for the eclipse, I’d love to know about it! I’ll be camping in Bryson City, NC to see the eclipse in totality. Email me at with any cool eclipse program ideas! Hopefully, we get good weather throughout the state!

Until next time,


Tags:  NCRPA Wellness  safety  Wellness  youth safety 

Share |

50 at 50 - August 11

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, August 11, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 10, 2017
A short trip on I-40 led me to Chapel Hill for this week’s blog. The Town of Chapel HIll is 23.1 square miles and home to the University of North Carolina. Chapel Hill has 16 parks providing about 1000 acres for active and passive recreation and preserved open space. I had the pleasure of visiting parks with Parks and Recreation Director Jim Orr and Assistant Director Linda Smith. In addition to the visit to Umstead Park, I got to explore Bolin Creek Greenway.

Umstead Park is 19.5 acres and was built in the 1970’s on land donated to the town by the Umstead Family. This park has several shelters, a playground, and three sand volleyball courts. While the town provided the land and equipment to get the volleyball courts started, a community volunteer coordinated the fundraising to build and maintain the courts. He also runs programs at the courts and donates the funds raised to maintain the courts with plans to construct three additional courts. That is a volunteer dedicated to volleyball in the community!

From Umstead Park, we were able to access Bolin Creek Trail. This trail runs along the creek and is just over 2 miles long. When completed, the trial will be about 3 miles. This trail is constructed of concrete and not asphalt as the creek is very close by and is prone to flooding and when it does, the water is usually raging. With concrete being heavier than asphalt, it was the better choice for this trail. I had never really thought about the difference between these two materials before and it was nice to learn something new.

Currently, the constructed greenway ends under a road crossing. Besides the artwork added by citizens, there were handholds from rock climbing added to the walls and ceiling of this underpass. These were not added by the department and I could only assume they were added by climbing enthusiasts in the area.

On the return trip to Umstead Park, I was impressed to see an access point from the street that included stairs on one side of the bridge and a paved ramp on the other side - making the greenway accessible not only to persons with varying physical abilities but also with various forms of transportation.

For more information on Umstead Park visit or Bolin Creek Greenway visit

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  #NCRecre8  50at50  Parks  Recreation 

Share |

August is Family Fun Month!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, August 7, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I can’t believe it is already August! If you did not know, August is Family Fun Month. Family Fun can be a great way to incorporate fitness into your department. This wellness blog will give you five ways to incorporate fun and healthy family fitness programs into your department.

It is universally known that parents encourage behaviors in their children. 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.”

Family Fun Month is the perfect time to hold healthy family-friendly events in your community! Below are five ideas to celebrate Family Fun Month:

  1. Family Scavenger Hunt: One way to get families active and engaged in your parks is to create a family scavenger hunt! Write 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Parent/Children Athletic Camps: Does your department hold any athletic skill development clinics? If so, inviting parents to participate with their children is a great way to encourage family fitness. Staff members teach and oversee the drills, and parents help in facilitating to their children. This works especially well with younger children and allows the parents to get in on the activity.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 fitness in your community! If your department has a great family fitness program, I’d love to hear about it. Email me at to share!


Until next time,


Tags:  Family  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

Share |

50 at 50 - August 4

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, August 4, 2017
This week’s adventure took me to Mount Airy for their NRPA Park Champion event with Representative Virginia Foxx. The event was held at Riverside Park and was held in conjunction with their Hero Day at the Park. This event brought local city services, along with health and wellness information to the kids in their summer camp program. There were representatives from the fire department, police department, the city recycling program, the city landscaping services, the county health department and an obstacle course provided by parks and recreation. The activities were all educational in nature. Whether it was learning about the fire truck, ‘driving impaired’ through a course made of cones with the police department or learning the difference between muscle and fat. There was also fun built into the day with chalk drawing in the parking lot and running the obstacle course.

Representative Foxx was in attendance to see the importance of federal programs that help park and recreation agencies provide healthy meals and enrichment opportunities to children nationwide. In Mount Airy, the summer feeding program is offeredin conjunction with Mount Airy City Schools. To read more about the event check out this article in the Mount Airy News Mount Airy received a Commit to Health Grant from NRPA to implement and offer programs and services to their community. I had a chance to chat with Eric, the camp director when I arrived at the park, and he talked about how they are working to impart healthy habits through camp. I think the message is getting absorbed! He told me he’s noticed when they go to the pool and the kids have access to the vending machines to make their own choices, more of them are getting water instead of soft drinks or performance beverages.

Riverside Park was established in 1977 and was renovated in 2004 and 2009. The park is home to the skate park, basketball courts, playground, soccer field, open play space, shelters and a canoe launch. The park also serves as the trail head of the Ararat River Greenway, which goes 6.8 miles to Veteran’s Park. Along the greenway, three of the four city schools have access, and there are plans to add two more miles of greenway that will connect the fourth school. The greenway has also served as a connection for the business community. We had lunch at Chase & Charli which borders the greenway. They have created a paved path from the greenway to their business along with outdoor seating that overlooks the river and greenway. At one point, the Ararat River was on the ‘bad rivers list’, but through funding by the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and programs with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, there is a section of the river designated for delayed harvest. It is nice to see the river turned into an asset for the community that not only provides enjoyment for the community but also serves as an economic driver through tourism and recreation.

To learn more about Riverside Park or the Ararat Greenway visit

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  50at50  Mount Airy  NRPA  parks  Recreation 

Share |

YPN Blog: August 2017

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

How NCRPA Helped Shape My Career

Hey Everyone,

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

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

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

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

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

Meet the Author

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

Jennifer can be reached at or 828-261-2258.

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

Tags:  involvement  NCRPA  student  young professionals  ypn 

Share |

50 at 50 - July 28

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, July 28, 2017
Updated: Thursday, July 27, 2017
This week I ventured away from home and found myself at a meeting with other Park & Recreation State Association Directors in Detroit, Michigan, and as you might imagine when a group of park professionals get together in another state, we get to see a few parks.  That was the case earlier this week.  The City of Detroit declared bankruptcy in 2013.  So what happened to their parks?  Nonprofits, conservatories, and business districts stepped up to take care of them, and from what I saw, they are thriving.

One evening, we had dinner and fun at Belle Isle.  Belle Isle Park is a 2.5-mile-long, 982-acre island park, located in the international waters of the Detroit River. Inspired by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted’s design in the 1880s, the park was created to provide an urban oasis in Detroit. Belle Isle has significant natural, architectural, and cultural resources. Almost one-third of the island is a natural wooded area, and the park features a number of historic public landmarks including the Belle Isle Aquarium, Belle Isle Casino, Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, Dossin Great Lakes Museum, the James Scott Memorial Fountain and a giant slide, much like the ones you see at state/county fairs where you sit on a mat to slide down.  The Casino is not the type we associate with Las Vegas.  From its Italian origin, during the 19th century, the term casino came to include public buildings used to host civic town functions, including dancing, gambling, music listening, and sports.  

In 2014, Belle Isle became Michigan’s 102nd state park.  Today, the park continues to be owned by the City of Detroit and is managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) under a 30-year lease as part of the City’s financial restructuring. The DNR manages the day to day operations of the park, including event bookings, infrastructure management, and environmental management. The Belle Isle Conservatory focuses awareness, historic preservation, and fundraising for capital projects Last year Belle Isle was the most visited Michigan state park with 4.3 million visitors. 

In addition to exploring the park on a bike, I also learned a few interesting tidbits to share. Opened in 1904, the Belle Isle Aquarium is the oldest aquarium in the country, the Flynn Pavilion where we had dinner was originally built as an ice skating rink and is now a special events venue, the park is the site of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix and when the park isn’t being used for auto racing, it is sometimes iced over and used for police driving skills training.  

The Detroit community is to be applauded for using parks to enhance their community and be part of the revitalization of the area  More information on Belle Isle Park can be found at and 

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  50at50  Detroit  parks  recreation  revitalization 

Share |

50 at 50 - July 21

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, July 21, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, July 19, 2017
This week, I stayed very close to home and explored a park here in Raleigh. With over 200 parks to select from and so many I had already visited, I went to the Raleigh Parks, Recreation Cultural Resources website for assistance and what I found was a very cool park finder tool. The tool let me search based on location, activity, or park name. After a little reading, I selected Roanoke Park for a visit. Located at 1500 Cherokee Drive, this park is not far from downtown Raleigh. This is a 1.6-acre park that I can best describe as shaped like a funnel. The far end of the park is a triangular grassy field with volleyball net for open play. Next, there was a small picnic shelter with 1 table and a grill. Then a wooden boardwalk leads to a narrow section that has the playground and basketball court. This park is surrounded by neighborhood streets on all sides.

When I arrived, I was impressed by several things. First, there was no parking lot, just on-street parking. This suggests to me that many of the users either walk or ride a bike to the park. Another interesting thing I noticed was that in addition to the traditional playground equipment and a basketball court, there were numerous wheeled toys - scooters, big wheels, tricycles, etc. These toys didn’t look like they had been provided by Raleigh Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources. A lady who was conducting a children’s art class at a nearby business came to the park with 7-10 children in tow. I asked her about the toys, and she said people bring/leave them at the park when their kids out grow them. She used to bring her son there 20 years ago, and it was the same way then. There were also 4 basketballs near the basketball court as well.

After a little more looking, I found a sign addressing the toys. The playground is designed for children ages 2-12. Toy play is allowed in designated areas only, and they are asked to only play with the toys provided. They also are asked to inspect toys prior to use and advised not to play with broken or damaged toys. Finally, children are encouraged to share toys and return them to their storage areas. For many reasons, I thought this was a neat idea for sharing toys in a neighborhood. Then I put on my park and recreation professional hat and thought there have to be concerns with random toys being left or taken from the park. I reached out to Kathy Capps, Manager of Learning Development and Risk Management with the department, to find out more.

This is a unique programming opportunity. Raleigh Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources has a Toy Play Agreement with the neighborhood that outlines what the city and the neighborhood will both do in regards to management and maintenance of the toys. This is a perfect example of a good community partnership - the idea came from the neighborhood, and both parties have taken steps to make sure it continues to be viable for the community. Unique indeed!

While the big wheel and scooter were too small for me to enjoy, I did spy four basketballs near the court, and one of them fit my hand just fine. I couldn’t resist making a couple of quick baskets before leaving. I’m thinking this might be a good place for the NCRPA staff to square off in a game of horse!

For more information on Roanoke Park, visit

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  50at50  parks  partnerships  Raleigh  recreation 

Share |

The Healing Power of Nature

Posted By Dr. Marisa Tomasic, Monday, July 17, 2017
Updated: Monday, July 10, 2017

Lovers of the outdoors already know the power of nature in promoting relaxation, harmony, and inner peace. It really comes as no surprise to most of us that being outside connecting with nature is uplifting, energizing, and de-stressing. What you might not realize, however, is that science is backing up what we already know; the great outdoors has the capacity to ‘fix,” or at least improve, much of what ails us!

Getting a good dose of “green” has the power to help us feel better and be healthier. The

benefits of nature on overall health have been documented in studies on both physical health and mental wellness. Spending time in nature, especially forest areas, can positively affect our blood pressure, immune systems, energy levels. stress, and mood. Simply looking at trees can be a mood booster (New York Department of Environmental Conservation), and living and spending vacations in the great outdoors can be a plus for health (Fortune, 2015). Surprisingly, one need not spend lengthy amounts of time in the outdoors to reap benefits. Research has shown that just a few minutes in green environments can be beneficial to our well-being. (Environmental Science & Technology, 2010).

The term “forest bathing” developed out of several years of research from Japan on the health benefits of being in nature, green environments, and forest areas. It essentially means walking in nature and allowing one’s senses to be awakened and invigorated. Are you aware of feeling happier, more joyful, and alive when you’re recreating, exercising, sightseeing, or just sitting in nature, as opposed to indoor venues, allowing the outdoors to infuse your senses? Psychology Today (2014) shared the results of a series of studies published in Environment and Behavior (2014), which looked at the relationship between connection to nature and perceptions of happiness. “Nature-relatedness” was the term used by the researchers to describe this special relationship, defined as one’s connection to nature on an emotional level. They discovered that this connection to nature offered something unique, going beyond more general connectedness to life. Nature-relatedness was also a good predictor of one’s happiness.

It’s interesting and refreshing to know that science has been taking a more robust look at the role of nature in our health, happiness, and well-being. I think most would agree, however, that not a lot of research is warranted to confirm how we feel when we’re taking in a healthy dose of nature in all its glorious splendor.


References: youth/201403/does-nature- make-us- happy

Zelenski, J. M., & Nisbet, E. K. (2014). Happiness and Feeling Connected The Distinct Role of Nature

Relatedness. Environment and Behavior, 46(1), 3-23.

Environ. Sci. Technol., 2010, 44 (10), pp 3947–3955 benefits-vacations- parks/



Meet the Author

Marisa McMillian Tomasic, Ph.D., was born and raised in Mount Airy, North  Carolina, and is currently a psychologist and freelance writer in Pittsburgh,  Pennsylvania.  She is the mother of two and loves the beach, the Carolina  Tar Heels, and spending time with  family.  


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

Tags:  guest blog  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness 

Share |

50 at 50 - July 14

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, July 14, 2017
Updated: Thursday, July 13, 2017
When I announced this series I received invitations to visit parks around our great state and one of them was from Apex Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Director John Brown. After a few email exchanges, I had my park visit scheduled. While I will only be sharing about one park in the blog, I visited all of their parks and even the sites of several future parks. The advantage to visiting parks with a staff member is getting to ask questions and learn about the history that may not be on a website.

Our first stop in my Apex park tour was Community Park located at 2200 Laura Duncan Road. This 160-acre park opened in 1988 and has a multitude of amenities. Baseball and softball fields, sand volleyball courts, playgrounds, walking and fitness trails, batting cages, tennis courts, fishing dock, basketball courts with one fenced for roller hockey, picnic shelters, and a 50+ acre lake. What really caught my eye was a new amenity that wasn’t open to the public yet. The newly installed Elevate Fitness Course which is a Burke product and represented in NC by Barrs Recreation. From what I saw and learned, this is American Ninga Warrior meets playground.

This new amenity is designed for those aged 13-19, a group that can sometimes be hard to engage. What really piqued my interest is the educational component that comes with this program. It is an 8-week program where participants meet twice each week. The training course was developed by an exercise science expert and a variety of trainers to create appropriate materials for the variety of levels this course will service. The program will focus on improving strength, agility, balance/stability, and speed. The first group is currently in the third week of the program and includes a varied group from athletes to couch potatoes. This fitness course will provide opportunities for people of different levels to play/workout in the same space while mastering challenges and advancing to the next level. While the initial program was created with teens in mind, Apex Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources will be using Elevate to create wellness programs for all ages and abilities.

I went back to Apex Community Park on July 8th for their grand opening of this amenity. It was great to see the community excited about this addition to the park. While there were teens there, there were also younger residents and parents experiencing the course for the first time

For more information on Apex Community Park visit

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  50at50  Apex  parks  play  recreation 

Share |
Page 6 of 17
1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10  |  11  >   >>   >|