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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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Get your Play On: It's Good for Your Health!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, July 10, 2017
Updated: Monday, July 3, 2017

If you do not know by now, July is Parks and Recreation Month! This year’s theme is Get Your Play On - something that parks and recreation professionals know better than anyone. Both NCRPA and NRPA are challenging you to get your play on. This wellness blog will cover the health benefits of play, and give your department some ways to get involved.


Play is a vital ingredient for our overall health. Whether it’s gaining physical strength through participating in your favorite athletic league or meeting new friends in a book club, play positively impacts our lives. Scientific evidence backs up these claims.

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, children who play outdoors regularly:


  • Become fitter and leaner  

  • Develop stronger immune systems  

  • Have more active imaginations  

  • Have lower stress levels

  • Play more creatively  

  • Have greater respect for themselves and others


Play is not only beneficial for children, but also for adults. An article from the Washington Post called “Why It’s Good for Grown Ups to go Play Too” dives deeper into this. “Researchers are turning their attention to (play’s) possible benefits for adults.” The article goes on to state, “What they’re finding is that play isn’t just about goofing off; it can also be an important means of reducing stress  and contributing to overall well-being.”


Interested in getting involved in Parks and Recreation month? It’s not too late to start! NRPA created a toolkit with resources to help tell your community to get their play on. Posters, handouts, activity books, social media tips, and more can be found in the toolkit.


There are also a few simple ideas that your department can do to promote parks and recreation month. First,  If you charge admission fees to any of your “play” facilities, pick a date in July to offer discounted fees! Additionally, plan a simple family game night, open gym sessions, and other self-guided activities for your community. Encourage your community to come and get their play on.


It’s also important for YOU to get your play on! Take some time out of your busy week to relax while doing your favorite play idea. NCRPA would like to see how you get your play on! Tag @NCRPA in your social media posts to show us. I hope you have a wonderful Parks and Recreation Month!


Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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50 at 50 - July 7

Updated: Monday, July 3, 2017
Several weeks ago, my travels took me to Kinston. If you are a foodie, when you hear Kinston, you may think of The Chef and Farmer. Being from Wayne County, Kinston and Lenoir County is just one county east. When my niece and nephew were younger, I took them to several parks in Kinston. The Lions Water Adventure and Neuseway Park with the nature center, health & science museum, and planetarium.  Great fun was had at both places.

On this recent trip with the goal of seeing a ‘new to me park’, I found Bill Fay Park located at 1007 Phillips Road. Although it was a hot Sunday afternoon and there weren’t too many people out, I did see a family enjoying a picnic at one of the shelters and kids at the playground.

This park was once a farmer’s field on the edge of town. When the park was built back in the late 70’s there was about $10,000 left in the budget. Jimmy Tyer, the Parks and Recreation Director at that time, drew up a par-3 golf course for the park on the back of a napkin. This was one of the first municipal par-3 courses in NC. Dedicated in 1979, the park also has tennis courts, lighted ball fields, a nature trail, picnic shelters, and playground.

For the first 25 years of its history, Billy Fay Park was Kinston’s main park. It is currently home of the Day in the Park Celebration which is a community-wide festival to kick off summer

So why the name Bill Fay Park? I talked to Bill Ellis, Kinston Parks & Recreation Director to get this information. Bill Fay was the first full-time Parks & Recreation Director in Kinston and served the city for 32 years. He had purchased the land for this park and died suddenly before anything could be started on the property. A fitting tribute to a gentleman that served the city for a great number of years and worked to preserve this area for the community.

For more information on Bill Fay Park visit

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Tags:  50at50  kinston  parks  recreation 

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YPN Blog: July 2017

Posted By Jasia Stevenson, Greensboro Parks and Recreation, Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Updated: Friday, June 30, 2017

I’m always a little caught off guard when strangers ask me, “What park do you work at?” Initially, it’s because I’m trying to figure what prompted them to ask. Usually it’s a Greensboro Parks and Recreation shirt or City badge that I forget I’m wearing. Secondly, I am shocked by the question, “What park do you work at?” As if parks and recreation is ONLY parks. As professionals in the field know, we offer so much more to the community.

After my shock and awe wears off, I normally respond, “We do have great parks in this area, but I don’t work at one.” This usually leads to them asking, “Well what do you do?” Here’s the part I love: an opportunity to speak about what I do.

In an effort to not hold up a line at Walgreens, I’ve prepared a quick 15 second response that sums up the organization I work for, what we offer, and why I enjoying doing it. My spiel goes like this: “I’m the Director of the Greensboro Youth Council, an organization that provides leadership and volunteer opportunities for high school students in the community. It’s a unique program for teens, and I enjoy seeing their development through service to the community.” Easy enough.

Some people end it there. Others ask follow up questions that result in me doing one of the following:

  • Educate: Tell them about how diverse our department is, from the traditional programs such as athletics and summer camps to arts and programming specifically for teens and seniors.
  • Invite: If there’s an upcoming event I can promote, I do it! It’s an opportunity for them to see me, Parks and Recreation, and their tax dollars in action.
  • Recruit: In Greensboro, we rely on volunteer support for many of our programs. I like to invite them to serve the community with me. If it’s a student, I discuss internships or give them my contact info.

You are one of the biggest advocates and marketing tools for your organization. Create a spiel you can remember and recite. Be knowledgeable about what is going on in your department.

Don’t be afraid to talk and brag a little about the amazing work you do!

Meet the Author

Jasia Stevenson works for the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department as the Director of the Greensboro Youth Council, an organization she was involved in as a high school student. She started college majoring in Chemistry with a Pre-Pharmacy focus. After her first year, she realized this wasn’t where she saw herself or her career and changed her major to Parks and Recreation that summer. Jasia graduated from UNC-Greensboro in 2006 and has worked at the YWCA, a recreation center, and moved up through GYC to her current role. She enjoys aspects of training and development and implementing them in fun, creative ways. When she is not working, Jasia enjoys music, baking, and spending time with family.

Jasia can be reached at or 336-373-2734.

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

Tags:  young professionals  youth council  ypn 

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Happy 4th of July!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, July 3, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, June 27, 2017

July 4th is one of my favorite days of the year. I typically spend the day spending time outside with my friends and family, eating delicious cookout food, catching some baseball games, and of course watching my local firework display. As park and recreation professionals, you play a pivotal role in many of your community members’ July 4th festivities.

Growing up, my favorite part of July 4th was going to my local recreation department’s big Independence Day celebration. This got me thinking about all of the activity that goes on in our parks & facilities on and surrounding the 4th, and how they relate to wellness:

Spending time outside: Research has shown that spending time outside is beneficial to one’s health. Whether your community holds an annual Independence Day parade, festival, or firework display, there is no doubt that people are usually spending the holiday outdoors. If your department is holding an outdoor event, encourage attendees to stay hydrated and to use sun protection.

Fishing: July 4th is Free Fishing Day in North Carolina, meaning anyone can fish without a license for the day. While the act of fishing itself isn’t particularly strenuous, individuals are still spending time outdoors. Additionally, getting to where the fish are (via paddling, hiking, or biking) with fishing gear can be a good workout in itself!  Encourage folks to come out and experience a free fishing day in your parks.

Cookouts: Cooking food on the grill can be healthier than many other methods of cooking! The trick is selecting healthy choices. Check out this link for some healthier ideas for July 4th celebrations. Your park may be experiencing a high number of shelter rentals for the holiday. Share some of these healthy recipes and tips in your facilities!

I hope you are able to promote wellness at your July 4th events! Have an awesome holiday.

Until next time,

Tags:  NCRPA Wellness 

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50 at 50 - June 30

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, June 30, 2017
Updated: Thursday, June 29, 2017
Parks are for people with all interests and our profession has embraced the idea of specialty parks. Sometimes those interests involve our four-legged friends too! This week, I found my way to Piney Wood Park in Durham - home to the first dog park in Durham. So when was the first dog park opened in the US? According to my Google search, it was 1979 in Berkeley, California.

Piney Wood Park is a 39.4-acre park located at 400 E. Woodcroft Parkway. It has several fields, picnic shelters, a playground and the dog park. While I haven’t been to many dog parks, this one seemed much larger than others I’ve seen. It has 4 separate enclosed areas - a small dog area, large dog area, program area and entrance area. Like most dog parks it had water fountains, waste bag dispensers, and benches. The program area is open to all but also can be used for special playgroups or an organized activity. Is the park open to all dogs - yes, but they must be registered with Durham Parks & Recreation annually. Dog Park registration fees are $17 annually, require proof of the proper vaccinations, and a signed liability waiver. So far in 2017, 470 families with 536 dogs have signed up for the fun.

What I observed that I didn’t expect was people ‘playing’ in the dog park too. I chatted with two gentlemen, Ben & Jared, who frequent the dog park almost every day. They were tossing a frisbee back and forth. Sometimes their dogs would chase after the frisbee and sometimes the dogs were too busy having their own fun. Ben and his dog Toast were nice enough to pose for a photo between throws.

As I was leaving the park, I met Tucker. He was chasing a well-loved flying disc. I asked him what he liked about the Piney Wood Dog Park and he replied, “Grrrr, bark, woof!”. I thought that was a great endorsement!

For more information on Piney Wood Park in Durham visit and the Piney Wood Dog Park visit

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Tags:  50at50  Durham  NCRecre8  parks  recreation 

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Thinking About Employee Wellness

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, June 26, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Employee wellness is a very important aspect of improving community health. Recreation and park professionals can serve as role models for encouraging increased healthy eating and physical activity in our communities. This wellness blog will give you some ideas of employee wellness programs that your department can adopt.


Creating a workplace where employees are encouraged to be healthy is important for many different reasons. In addition to setting a good example to the community, employee wellness can improve the productivity of your department. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, “More than 90 percent of business leaders say that promoting wellness can affect employee productivity and performance.”


Many parks and recreation departments are in a unique situation when it comes to implementing employee wellness programs. First, many of our jobs are untraditional - giving us the chance to get up and active throughout the day. Additionally, as opposed to a traditional business, many departments are fortunate to have existing programs and facilities that specialize in wellness. Use these unique aspects of recreation and parks to your advantage when determining an employee wellness program. Below, I’ve given you some suggestions


An easy way to encourage even more active lifestyles with your staff is to hold “walking meetings” whenever appropriate. If you need to talk with a coworker and the weather is nice, take the opportunity to walk and talk together! If your office is near any of your park facilities, this idea works even better. For example, the NCRPA Office is located right next to Fred Fletcher Park in Raleigh - giving us a great opportunity to get in daily walking meetings. This not only gives you a chance to engage with one another, but it is a simple way to get up and active.


Does your department offer any fitness classes or use of fitness centers? If so, they can be a great asset in developing an employee fitness program. Offer free or reduced cost use of fitness equipment and fitness classes to staff members. This will encourage your staff to take advantage of their employee benefits, and allow them to engage in healthy activities with the community.


Employee wellness programs should also address healthy eating. For example, at staff functions, unhealthy foods should be served in moderation. Fresh fruits and vegetables can also be made readily available in common areas.


Certification programs like the Healthy Out of School Time Standards (H.O.S.T) elaborate further on staff food and drink guidelines. According to the H.O.S.T standards, “Staff should not bring in/consume personal food or beverages in front of youth other than items that would appear on the program’s menu.” Additionally, Staff at all levels of the organization should model healthy eating on the job.”


When creating an employee wellness program, find what works for you! This could be a plan implemented in one site like a community center, or a departmental program. It may take a few different versions of tweaking your plan before you hit on one that fits your needs. Try implementing a few of the easy practices discussed above for a good start.


The NCRPA Wellness Toolkit also has resources available concerning employee wellness. If your department or work site has a cool employee wellness program, I’d love to know about it. Email me at with any ideas!


Until next time,


Tags:  health and wellness  NCRPA wellness  wellness 

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50 at 50 - June 23

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Thursday, June 22, 2017
Next stop on my 50 at 50 park tour is JC Cooper Campground at Satterwhite Point in the Kerr Lake State Recreation Area located near Henderson.   Kerr Lake State Recreation Area is a collective of eight access areas scattered around the shoreline of a 50,000-acre reservoir.  The development of cities and homes along the Roanoke River and the increased demand for flood control and electricity led to the construction of the John H. Kerr Reservoir, named after the North Carolina congressman instrumental in the reservoir's development. Construction of this reservoir that straddles Virginia and North Carolina began in 1946 and was completed in 1952.  The Kerr Reservoir Commission was then created to govern the North Carolina parks bordering the lake. The N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation eventually took control of the seven recreation areas of the reservoir in 1975. In addition to water resource management, the reservoir provides fish and wildlife conservation, forest management and recreation.
I grew up camping at Kerr Lake and had never been to Satterwhite Point, JC Cooper Campground, or the park’s visitor center.  Spending 4 nights here gave me plenty of time to explore the park by land and water.  Our group of campers ranged from 4-7 people depending on the day.  On the first day, after getting camp set up my priority was to walk around the campground to discover options for lake access and watching sunsets. 
This trip was full of time spent swimming and floating in the lake, walks, good food, hammock time, laughs with friends, an evening campfire and good storms complete with wind, lightning, and rain.  It was exhilarating to be floating on the lake, look up and see osprey, bald eagles and herons soaring overhead.  One afternoon we saw a bird of a different type - an F-15E Strike Eagle that I assume was doing a test flight from Seymour Johnson AFB in Goldsboro.  
Most mornings included a long walk after coffee and breakfast.  Friday’s morning walk included a stop at the visitor center.  Our NC State Parks do a great job with educational experiences in the visitor centers, and this one did not disappoint.  The experience had begun before I made it to the front door.  Along the walkway, there was a sign about butterflies and their habitats.  Once inside there were lots of passive and interactive exhibits about the land, water, and animals of the lake, including the day’s weather forecast.  
After watching the sunset one evening, we were walking back to the campsite, and a young man on a bicycle pulled up beside us and began to chat.  Not having met many strangers, I chatted back.  His name is Treyzeon; he’s 13 and lives near Kerr Lake. He was there with his extended family for the annual family camping weekend.  I asked him what he liked about the park, and he replied “fishing, camping and being outside.”  It made me smile, and it felt good to know there are plenty of youth in our state that love and enjoy parks! 
For more information on the Kerr Lake State Recreation area, visit

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Tags:  50at50  NC State Parks  parks  recreation 

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Summer is here!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, June 19, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Summer has officially arrived! For parks and recreation professionals, this is often our busiest time of the year. With warm temperatures and traditional school on summer vacation, recreation facilities and parks are often jam packed. This blog is all about summer and will give you some important things to consider.


The change of season brings new challenges and opportunities. One challenge can be keeping our communities safe while participating in activities outdoors in the heat. The summer temperatures in North Carolina can be brutal - sometimes reaching over 100 degrees.  According to the American Red Cross, “In recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including floods.” Because of this, it is important to be aware of general heat wave safety tips. It is good practice to inform outdoor summer staff about heat safety and to always be well informed on the weather conditions. A link to the American Red Cross’ Heat Wave Safety Tips can be found here.


Summer also brings the increase of water activities. In May, the wellness blog covered water safety, and some important rules to consider. Click this link to read the complete blog post.


With camp programs starting to pick up steam in many of our departments, now is a great opportunity to start to implement health practices to our youth. Healthy Out of School Time (HOST) Standards does a great job of covering healthy eating and physical activity best practices. According to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, “studies show that youth that eat healthier and move more get better grades, attend school more, and have improved self-esteem, social-relationships, and leadership skills.” I think that HOST standards are extremely beneficial and adoption should be strongly considered for our recreation and park programs. For more on HOST Standards and how your department can adopt them, check out this  wellness blog post from March.


As with any season, creative health programming ideas can also be explored in the summer. The warmer temperatures and longer days bring opportunities to expand on your programming. One idea for a cool summer program is to hold an outdoor sunset yoga class. Pick a scenic area and hold yoga classes in the evening outside. This creates for beautiful views of the sunset - and cooler evening temperatures. Think of other programs that could easily be moved outdoors for fun ways to get people active and to refresh old programs.


I hope that this wellness blog has given you some things to think about as the summer kicks into full speed! If your department does any cool summertime wellness programming, I’d love to know about it! Email me at


Until next time,


Tags:  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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50 at 50 - June 16

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, June 16, 2017
Updated: Monday, June 12, 2017
Since the fall of 1985 when I enrolled at NCSU, I have traveled Hwy 70 East and West between Raleigh and the Rosewood Community (just west of Goldsboro) many times. I did it again this past weekend as I went to visit my family and see my great niece in person for the first time.

Early Saturday morning, I took the Buffalo Road exit and found my way to Brack Wilson Park in Selma. Brack Wilson Park is the largest park in Selma and is just over 12 acres. Like most parks, it has picnic shelters, a playground area and ball fields. There is also an outdoor basketball court. I’m not sure what the land looked like back in 1978 when the park was constructed, but today there are lots of huge trees providing shade to many areas of the park. As I walked around, I was pleasantly surprised to find PlayPrints at this park. With over 40 parks in NC receiving PlayPrints grants, I can’t keep track of all of them. Seeing the huge robot and sunflower on the walkway from the parking into the park was a great location to encourage people to move a little more.

The first phase of Brack Wilson Park was built in 1978 and partially funded by a LWCF grant in 1977. Over the years, 2 more phases have been completed to create the park as it is today. Joe Carter, Selma Parks & Recreation Director gave me a little history on this park. Brack Wilson owned a car dealership in Selma and leased the land for the park to the town for $1 per year with a 25 year lease. As the end of the lease agreement was approaching, Joe reached out to the heirs to find out about this property remaining a park. The family donated the land to the town and a rededication ceremony was held in the early 2000’s to celebrate the occasion.

For more information on the programs and facilities offered by Selma Parks & Recreation, visit

If you are traveling Hwy 70 between Raleigh and the beach, I encourage you to take the Buffalo Road exit and check out this park that has been serving the community for almost 40 years.

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Tags:  #NCRecre8  50at50  parks  recreation 

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Great Outdoors Month

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, June 12, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Happy June! If you did not know, June is Great Outdoors Month. As recreation and park professionals, we are tasked with promoting the benefits of nature. This wellness blog will detail some of the benefits of getting outdoors, and some engaging ways to get your community out in your parks.

The wellness blog content has talked extensively about the benefits of nature in the past. I am a huge believer that time spent outdoors is very valuable for one's health. Check out one of our old blog posts that goes into the benefits of the great outdoors. Fortunately, there is a lot of science that supports my belief.

Business Insider published an article in 2016 containing 11 scientifically proven benefits of spending time outdoors. The list includes improved short term memory,  reduced inflammation,  better vision, & sharper thinking and creativity. Click this link to read the article in its entirety.

Most scientists also agree the outdoor exercise is generally more beneficial than equal indoor programs. An article published by the New York Times expanded upon this. “Outdoor exercise tends, too, to be more strenuous than the indoor version.” The article went on to say “In studies comparing the exertion of running on a treadmill and the exertion of running outside, treadmill runners expended less energy to cover the same distance as those striding across the ground outside, primarily because indoor exercisers face no wind resistance or changes in terrain, no matter how subtle.”

The New York Times article also concluded that outdoor activities generally bring participants more happiness than their indoor activity counterparts. “In a number of recent studies, volunteers have been asked to go for two walks for the same time or distance — one inside, usually on a treadmill or around a track, the other outdoors. In virtually all of the studies, the volunteers reported enjoying the outside activity more.”

Since the weather is warm this time of year, try holding normal indoor events outdoors! Some ideas for this could include holding open gym basketball or pickleball outdoors a few days per month. This promotes being outside, and can be a fun change from the normal routine.

Another idea to get people outside is to hold a photo scavenger hunt challenge. Pick one of your departments outdoor facilities and encourage your community to go exploring. Choose a few landmarks along the trail and write clues describing them. Participants then take a photo of each item on the hunt and show a designated staff person to win a small prize. Encourage participants to share their photos on social media. Photo scavenger hunts are a great way to get people outside to explore your facilities, and to get people excited about going outdoors.

Additionally, look to capitalize on current trends that are taking place outdoors. Trends like geocaching and Pokemon Go bring many people outdoors everyday. Always try to be aware of trends that will bring people to your parks, and try to come up with creative ways to cater activities towards participants.

I hope that you have learned a bit more about Great Outdoors month, and why promoting outdoor activity is important! I encourage you to register for our NCRPA June Wellness Webinar focused on Stand-up paddle boards, an exciting outdoor program. Kevin Pimentel from Mecklenburg County joins us on June 21st at 1:00 pm to detail the County's paddle-board program. Learn ideas and tips to get a similar program up and running in your department. Click here to register!

Until next time,



Tags:  NCRPA Wellness 

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50 at 50 - June 9

Updated: Thursday, June 8, 2017
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to camp at Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. Since I was also there in April, this is not a new to me park, but one I highly recommend you visit. There are not many places where you go for a hike and meet wild ponies on the trail.

On my way back through Surry County, I saw a sign for Fisher River Park located in Dobson and hung a right to find it. Without any prior research, I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived and was pleasantly surprised. This park was dedicated in 2001 and has a plethora of activities available. As I traveled the road to the park I saw signs directing me to the amphitheater and the 6.5 miles of mountain bike trails. A little further down the road was the practice field and the entrance I took to the park. Here I found several baseball/softball fields, a soccer/multipurpose field, several large picnic shelters which were both being used and even a small picnic table/shelter with a grill. The park also has a walking trail, 2 playgrounds, horseshoe pits and an outdoor basketball court.

What I noticed while rambling around the park, was most everything was sponsored or supported. I chatted with Surry County P&R Director Daniel White to find out more. They have a gift catalog program created a number of years ago and is being revamped to reflect current costs and pricing for naming rights. Over the years, a number of businesses, community groups and families have sponsored items in the park. These donations have helped towards applying for matching grants.

While talking to Daniel, I found out the department has a unique partnership with the Wild Turkey Federation to offer the Women in Outdoors program. This is a female-focused outdoor skills training program. In the past they have taught kayaking and skeet shooting.

A plaque I found on the wall at the concession stand reads, “A special thanks to all Recreation Advisory Committee members past, present and future. Together we can make a difference!”. What an innovative way to recruit future advisory committee members.

The park is 135 acres with some undeveloped acres. The property has been owned by the county since 1870. Its original intent was the “poor farm” - a place where those with no place to live and without jobs could live, work and earn their way towards having those things. The old farm house is still on the property. Fisher River Park was the vision of a county commissioner and advisory board members to create a place for recreational opportunities for Surry County residents and travelers like myself passing through.

For more information on Fisher River Park visit

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Tags:  50at50  NCRecre8  NCRPA  parks  Recreation 

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YPN Blog: June 2017

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Thursday, June 8, 2017
Updated: Monday, May 22, 2017

From first-hand experience, finding a job after graduating from college can be extremely tough. The up’s and down’s of the job search can be relentless at times. For a young professional trying to make their way into the field, it’s important to keep a level head. In this month’s edition of the YPN blog, I will share my journey to this point in my career and the impact that part-time work has had on me.

I graduated from North Carolina State University in May 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Sport Management. During my time at NC State, I grew increasingly interested in working in parks and recreation. Although I was not sure in what capacity, I knew that parks and recreation would allow me to make a difference in the lives of people in my community. In 2014, I got my first taste of working in parks and recreation when I accepted a position as a Community Center Aide with the Town of Cary.

After graduation, I was not sure what my next move would be. I really enjoyed my position with the Town of Cary, but the part-time job limitation would not be enough to sustain myself. I began relentlessly searching and applying for jobs. I came close to snagging a few full-time positions, but ultimately nothing panned out.

At this point in my search, it had been three months. I spoke with different mentors in the field, and they all encouraged me to start applying for additional part-time jobs. At first, I had mixed feelings about this approach - but ultimately decided it was the best move for my future. In August 2015, I accepted a position as an Athletic Specialist with the City of Durham.

September rolled around, and I had two part-time jobs, working 5-10 hours a week at both. Since I had some free nights, I decided to look for another part-time job (In addition to the relentless search for full-time work!). In mid-September, I was hired by the Town of Morrisville as an Athletic Field Supervisor, where I oversaw a variety of different sports.

I worked three part-time jobs until January 2016, and I absolutely loved the experience. I spent less time at home stressing about finding permanent employment, and more time out impacting communities and strengthening my work experience. I received a promotion from my job with Durham Parks and Recreation and settled into a new role with the Town of Cary. Because of the nature of local municipality athletic and recreation events, most of my nights and weekends were booked. I spent days searching for permanent employment, and nights and weekends working my collection of part-time jobs.

It then dawned on me that since most of my days were relatively uneventful, I could search for yet another part-time job - but one that offered daytime hours. I reached out to local track-out camps in my area and found XL Sports World - a commercial recreation facility that offered multi-sports camps.

By the end of January, I worked most of my weekdays at XL Sports World as a camp coach, and weeknights and weekends at some combination of my positions with the Towns of Cary & Morrisville, and the City of Durham.

Although juggling all of these positions at once made for very difficult scheduling, I settled into a routine. I was proud of myself for making the most out of my situation by examining my schedule and turning unused time into opportunities for community and professional growth.

I continued juggling my positions until August when I accepted my role as the Wellness Assistant here with NCRPA. This role was a great opportunity for a number of reasons: the chance to impact recreation and park departments throughout the entire state, a 20 hour a week position with daytime hours, and the potential for growth. It even allowed me to keep my other part-time roles, which really interested me.

These roles allowed me to be in different settings doing multiple tasks. I have learned the inner-workings of multiple agencies, allowing me to diversify my skillset. Additionally, I have really enjoyed connecting with the children and participants in the multiple programs I have been involved with.

It is safe to say that without my part-time work experience, I would not be in the position I am in today. My supervisors from my jobs became my best advocates, and the advice and experience they provided me were invaluable.

If you are a young professional looking to start or advance a career in recreation and parks, I would highly suggest looking into part-time work. Put your best foot forward and make an effort to establish connections in the community. Although the grind of part-time scheduling can be tough at times, it is often the best way to break into the industry and gain valuable connections along the way.

 Meet the Author


Diquan joined NCRPA as the Wellness Assistant in 2016 and is a native of Absecon, New Jersey. He graduated from North Carolina State University in 2015 with an undergraduate degree in Sport Management. Prior to joining the staff at NCRPA, he has worked various part-time jobs with municipalities in the Triangle Area. Diquan resides in Durham, NC and enjoys playing and watching sports, hiking, the great outdoors, and spending time with friends and family in his spare time.


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



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

Tags:  part-time jobs  young professionals  ypn 

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50 at 50 - June 2

Updated: Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Getting out and seeing “new to me” parks is fun!  This week, I went to Church Street Park in Morrisville.  I have watched this park through its construction phase as it is along one of my weekend cycling routes.  I just had not taken the time to stop and investigate.  That changed on Memorial Day when I went to check it out and get in my walk.  

Located at 5800 Cricket Pitch Way in Morrisville, the park opened in Spring of 2015 and is currently about 25 acres.  And the street address alludes to a sport that is often played there - Cricket.  Not a traditional NC sport, but one that has seen increasing popularity in Morrisville.  The Triangle Cricket League rents the field at this park to run part of their league.  The large multipurpose field is round to accommodate cricket and can also be used as two soccer/flag football fields

Surrounding the multipurpose field is a walking trail, complete with a sign indicating the distance around and how many laps make 1 mile.  While walking my laps, it was great to see a father letting his young daughter ride her bike.  She was able to ride ahead, and he was able to see her across the open field.  Riding the ‘loop’, she was protected from car traffic as well.  The park has three tennis courts which are the only free tennis courts in town, a playground area, two picnic shelters and a restroom facility.  I was impressed with the natural lighting in the restroom. 

If your travels find you in the Morrisville area, swing by Church Street Park and check it out.   For more information visit: 

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  50at50  NCRecre8  parks  recreation 

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Happy Memorial Day!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, May 29, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Happy Memorial Day! I hope that you are finding time to relax and enjoy the long weekend. Memorial Day is the unofficial start to Summer and for parks and recreation professionals - it is often the last break before the grind of summer programming begins. This wellness blog will give you 10 fun (and healthy) recipes and activities to try this Memorial Day or summer.

  1. Ramen Slaw - This recipe for coleslaw that makes for a great light cookout side dish

  2. Take a kayaking trip. Our friends at BCBSNC put together a list of five great kayaking locations in North Carolina.

  3. Turkey Burgers - I love making these turkey burgers whenever I am craving a burger

  4. Check out a new trail or park! I often use this site to find fun hikes to go on.

  5. Replace hot dogs with chicken sausage for a healthier alternative! Be sure to check the nutrition facts first!

  6. Get out on the (Disc) Golf Course! This site has a listing of courses in the State.

  7. Banana Ice Cream -  This one ingredient Banana “Ice Cream” is a super easy frozen treat

  8. Check out the late blooming spring wildflowers!

  9. Grilled Corn on the Cob - An old classic - one of my favorite cookout foods

  10. Memorial day is typically the opening of outdoor pool season. If you’re jumping in the pool, be sure to follow these safe water practices.

I hope that you have a relaxing holiday! If you try any of these tips out - I’d love to know about it. Email me at

Until next time,


Tags:  NCRPA Wellness 

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50 at 50 - May 26

Updated: Friday, May 26, 2017
On May 15, I reached one of those milestones in life - celebrating my 50th birthday.  So far, it has been great.  And honestly, it doesn’t feel much different than 49.  A 50th birthday is to be celebrated and in the months leading up to the big day, I thought about what I wanted to do to mark the occasion.  I’m not one for jumping out of airplanes so I’m settling on something a little more simplistic that will bring me great joy.

If you didn’t already know, I LOVE parks!  And in my 50 years, I’ve been to quite a few of them - local parks, state parks and national parks.  During the upcoming year, I’m going to expand on the list of parks I have visited and my goal is to visit 50 “new to me” parks.   When researching if this project was possible, I discovered that here in Wake County, there are over 200 parks and I can promise you there are many of them I have not visited.  I will not be limiting my visits to just Wake County or even NC.  

Just like people, parks come in all shapes, sizes and with different traits and characteristics.  Over the course of the next year, I hope you will join me on the journey and learn about some “new to you” parks as well.  

My first park is not only new to me, but new to most everyone else as well - Downtown Park in Cary. The soon to be 6 acre park, opened the first acre this spring and is part of the downtown redevelopment.  It is located near the heart of downtown and across from the Arts Center.  Don’t let the passive appearance of this park fool you.  In addition to the centerpiece fountain, there is table tennis and foosball available.  Soon after the opening, yoga and other exercise classes were offered and some summer concerts are planned.  To learn more, visit the official site for Downtown Park at 

50 at 50 is the journey of NCRPA’s Executive Director Michelle Wells as she celebrates her 50th birthday by visiting 50 ‘new to her’ parks before 5/14/2018.  Published on Fridays, look for the next stop in this adventure.  All posts in this series can be found by searching the tag 50at50.  

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  50at50  NCRecre8  parks  recreation 

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