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 Matt@ncrpa.net 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.
Posted By Meredith Batchelor, Special Events Coordinator, Town of Stallings,
Thursday, June 20, 2019
Making a Statement
Everyone wants to make a statement, everyone wants to make a name for themselves. Why is it that we always feel the need to prove ourselves? For me, it came with my age and how I looked. Getting a middle management position right out of college is a fantastic accomplishment for some. I was ecstatic that I had been offered a position as the Recreation Manager for a department. What I soon found out was that no one wanted to listen to a 22-year-old kid right out of college, especially one that looked like she was 16 on a good day and “wasn’t from around these parts.” I faced a lot of challenges when it came to that, no one knew by looking at me that I had graduated from college with a degree in the field and no one knew that I had worked so hard to get to where I was.
Fast forward to today and that still is ringing true. I started as the Special Event Coordinator with the Town of Stallings in July of 2018. This was a brand new position created for the town, so I felt as though even though no one had held the position previously, that I still had some big shoes to fill. I constantly am pushing myself to work harder so that everything I produce for the department can be the absolute best. I will beat myself up internally if something doesn’t go exactly as planned.
It’s not a bad thing to expect and seek perfection, for some it’s a good goal to set, especially as event planners. By nature, event planners are organized and consistent, hitting everything on a checklist and exceeding expectations is how we feel the job is done. I do know now after bringing new events and ideas to the town that I can step back and know I’ve done a good job. As Parks and Recreation professionals, our priority is the people. Special Events is how I can provide for the people and the community I serve. I make sure to take the time out of the event to talk to families that are there. I want to make sure they’re having a good time and the event is everything that they expected. I’ve also gotten a lot of good ideas as well as vendor contacts from talking with the community members. By doing this, I’m also setting up a relationship and a reputation. By being so young in the field, it’s important to build those relationships to carry on with me throughout my career.
For anyone who is also a young professional, don’t be afraid to step up. Take the challenge, ask questions, and be present! Make sure you’re creating those lasting relationship, who knows who you may be needing to call on years from now.
About the Author
Meredith Batchelor is the Special Events Coordinator for the Town of Stallings Parks and Recreation Department. Meredith received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Community and Therapeutic Recreation from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2015 where she concentrated in Community Recreation and Special Events and minored in Political Science. Prior to her time in Stallings, Meredith worked in recreation with the Walt Disney World Resort before becoming the Recreation Manager in Boiling Spring Lakes, NC. She has had a passion for the field since becoming a camp counselor at the age of 16 and loves that she can bring that passion to her position in Stallings.
Meredith can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-821-8557.
Posted By Malik Diggs, UNC-Greensboro & Greensboro Parks and Recreation,
Thursday, January 4, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Finding value in experiences you have with people and within programs is a tool that takes you a long way. Growing up, I always wanted to be a physical therapist, but when I got to college and began studying Kinesiology, that quickly changed. My first semester was over, and I was stuck not knowing what I wanted to major in - let alone my career choice. Young-minded and confused, I remembered my first real job with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation at Bette Rae Thomas Recreation Center under the award-winning, Recreation Employment Corp, or R.E.C., program. R.E.C. is a work-based learning program employing youth between the ages of 14-17 as employees/mentors at neighborhood recreation centers, nature centers and aquatic facilities. During my time there, I learned lessons about making a change, the impact the smallest interactions can make and overall how recreation can guide youth to better lives and adults to a more self-fulfilling one. That experience served as a precursor to what eventually would become my career, which explains why I am here today.
As fortunate as I was to have that past experience, the learning didn’t stop there. This year was my first time attending the Carolinas Joint Conference, and it was one of the most eye-opening and richest experiences I’ve ever had. The amount of knowledge gained, the people I met and conference as whole provided an immeasurable amount of joy and value. I met people who I now look to as motivation to keep pushing myself in the field of Park and Recreation because they shared stories and knowledge with me that I hope to one day attain. Along with knowledge gained, connections were renewed. I reunited with Terri Stowers, who recognized me from my time in the R.E.C. program; overwhelmed with joy, we discussed how impactful the program was for me and how she, along with the Bette Rae staff, impacted my decision to pursue a career in Park and Recreation. The joint conference is a highlight in my young career and an event I would highly recommend young professionals like myself to attend.
Now, I’m currently a Recreation Assistant for the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department and student at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I’m taking the knowledge gained at school and bringing it into my career. You really start to see the impact of experiences gained whether it be via school or another professional. A great personal example came after taking CTR-314, or Recreation Services with Underrepresented Groups, with Dr. Schleien, a marvelous professor. I feel I gained the ability to view facilities and situations through a lens of inclusion, so now anywhere I go, I’m always looking for a way to adapt activities and facilities to make them more accessible to everyone. Along with that experience, my curriculum and professors will offer many more lessons that will help me attain more skills that will prove worthy in my career.
Discovering my love for recreation was truly a blessing and helped me figure out what’s been right in front of my face the whole time - that Park and Recreation was my calling. Finding value in the experiences I’ve had since the age of 14 has made it easier for me to turn my knowledge into actions. It’s easy to talk the talk, but through enriching experiences, plus knowledge and lessons and with the help of the Greensboro Parks and Recreation department along with my facility director, Gina Carmon, I will become equipped with tools that will help me walk the walk. Therefore, professionals, whether you are 3 months or 20 years into your career, I challenge you to take the interactions you hold dear and turn them into outeractions in order to make a needed change in your community. Make the change you know is needed, and be the difference you want to see.
Meet the Author
Malik Diggs is currently a student at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Recreation Assistant with Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Parks Management with a concentration in Community Recreation and Event Planning. He hopes to one day become a Director of Park and Recreation, but is taking it day-by-day while taking advantage of opportunities presented to him. He’s a proud dog dad of a Morkie by the name of Milo. His favorite quote is by Michelangelo: “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” He challenges you to push the envelope and make a change. Malik can be reached at email@example.com.
If you are interested in being a guest author for the YPN Blog, please contact Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-832-5868.
As a profession we often focus on the economic impact parks & recreation has on a community. But that is just a small piece of how our jobs can change lives and impact communities .
- Photo courtesy of Burlington Recreation & Parks
Did you know Operations and Capital Spending at Local and Regional Parks in NC created just over $3 Billion in economic activity in 2013 and supported 26,278 jobs in our state? The Economic Impact of Local Parks* study, provides estimates of the direct, indirect and induced effects of local and regional park agency spending on the economy. The spending in the study includes both annual operations and capital expenditures. The report includes estimates of economic output, value added (i.e., GDP), employment and labor income. This study allows us to quantify what this profession does in our state. NRPA has worked to put a numeric value on what we do. Thank you NRPA!
But our impact is more than just dollars and cents right?
Is it Increased self-esteem for youth participants?
What about better physical fitness for people of all ages?
Cleaner air and water?
It is all of those things, and so much more!
I’m pretty sure if I were to ask each of you how you make an impact in your community, I would find some similarities in answers. I also think there would be some unique answers which hold special meaning to just you.
The truth of this question is that we probably only know a small amount of the impact we have. There are so many untold stories of how a person’s life has been positively changed by this profession. The next time you are at one of your programs or facilities, take a moment and look at the people. Look at their faces. Notice the smiles. That is a result of positive impact.
While it may seem we are always focused on the economic impact of what we do for our communities, we cannot discount the everyday things we do as park and recreation professionals that enhance the quality of life for the people we serve.
Never forget this profession allows you the opportunity to give smiles. And when the stresses of the job seem overwhelming, look for the smiles and remember the passion you have for this profession!
Kendrick Mayes, Garner and Jay Tryon, Indian Trail discuss the 2014 NRPA Annual Conference in the above video blog interview from NRPA.
Viva Las Vegas! This year, the National Recreation and Park Association will celebrate their 50th Anniversary in the exciting city of Las Vegas. For students and young professionals, this year is not only memorable for the significance of the association celebrating 50 years, but also because of the location. However, with limited department funds how can a young professional ensure that they are able to attend NRPA Congress? #Scholarships! That’s right, applying for scholarships through NRPA and NCRPA can help you partially or even completely fund your trip. As a first-time attendee and young professional at the 2014 NRPA Congress in Charlotte, North Carolina, I was fortunate to receive the National Recreation and Park Association Student Scholarship and the National Recreation and Park Association Ethnic Minority Society Scholarship which fully covered my conference registration, travel, lodging and meals.
As the Marketing and Events Coordinator for the Garner Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department I used a portion of my scholarships to attend the pre-congress workshop Brand+Aid Marketing Institute. Attending this session has helped tremendously with my professional development because I was able to sharpen my current marketing skills and also implement new techniques on the job to make the department better.
Before I attended the NRPA Congress, I remember reading an article at North Carolina Central University written by Ms. Tiffany Johnson from the DC Department of Parks and Recreation about the importance of networking and doing your research before attending Congress. I’m glad she wrote the article because in order to be successful at Congress you definitely need a game plan. The game plan should include options on which sessions you plan to attend, which networking events you plan to sit in on and also what you would like to gain from attending. Before I left for Congress, my Town of Garner business cards had not arrived yet, so I got creative in printing my own cards to pass out after sessions. This proved to be a wise decision, because the worst thing that can happen to a young professional is for them to attend a great session, ask questions, interact with the speakers and the moment comes to exchange contact information and the young professional does not have any business cards.
Along with my NRPA scholarships , I was also able to receive the North Carolina Recreation and Park Scholarship Foundation Fletcher Graduate Scholarship. I used the funds to towards covering additional educational expenses in my journey as a young parks and recreation leader here in NC. I strongly encourage my fellow young professionals to apply for the various scholarships that are available. This money is dedicated to helping professionals ( LIKE YOU!) to continue their education so they can advance in the field. Even if you feel like your resume or your community involvement doesn't compare to someone else, you would be surprised at how many people miss out on scholarships all because they did not take the initiative to apply.
Additionally, I would encourage all young professionals to consider getting involved with networking opportunities, whether it’s a group here in our state with NCRPA or nationally with the NRPA Young Professional Network, NRPA Ethnic Minority Society Network, the NRPA Administrators Network. By doing this, not only do they stay current on receiving scholarships, but they are also in the know about opportunities within the field.
Looking for opportunities to attend the NRPA Congress in Las Vegas? Here are some options: http://buff.ly/1bEQ5cZ
“Things don't have to change the world to be important.” (Steve Jobs). I recently saw this quote and thought about NCRPA. We made an investment in you and NCRPA during 2014 by asking you as members of our profession what you needed from NCRPA. You spoke and we listened. And now we are implementing change in our membership packages. These changes are not going to change the world, but they are important. Important to current and future members, and important to the vitality of NCRPA.
Beginning in July, NCRPA’s agency membership will have a different look. This revised Agency membership is designed to allow and encourage everyone who works in a parks and recreation agency to be a member of NCRPA. The Agency package will include all full-time employees, along with citizen board members, local elected and appointed officials and managers. Individual members will still have their same benefits, but now included with this package will be unlimited Career Connection postings, the ability to add or renew membership by one staff person with one invoice/payment, the ability to have one staff person register multiple individuals for conferences and workshops with one invoice/payment, SWAC Tournament participation, eligibility for agency awards such as Arts and Humanities and the Innovative Program Award, the opportunity to apply for grants through NCRPA partnerships (such as healthy equipment grant $100,000, Nourishing NC $300,000) and the opportunity for an agency profile in NCRPA NEWS magazine.
The fees for the Agency package are based on permanent full-time employees and varies with the size of the agency (see details). Every attempt was made to find a model that was equitable to agencies of varying sizes. Yes, some agencies may be paying more and some will be paying less when we switch from the paying a flat fee per person model we have used since the inception of NCRPA. We have been sharing this information with department directors since it was finalized and hopefully many agencies were able to make adjustments their FY 15-16 budgets. The individual membership is still available for those that deem this their best option for $65.
We also revised the Commercial membership package to be for an individual or for a business that wants to include all of their sales team or staff as NCRPA members. For our colleges and universities, we have a packaged membership that includes the faculty/staff and students. Students who attends a university that has not purchased a College/University package can purchase an individual student membership for $10.
Other than changing the membership year for everyone to July 1 – June 30, there were no changes other to our retired membership.
Updated technology has made these changes to our membership opportunities possible. And with technology there can be challenges. We will be implementing the changes, testing them and then releasing these new options on a staggered calendar. We want this transition to be as seamless as possible for you, the member, and us in the NCRPA office. We appreciate your patience and assistance during this process.
Your NCRPA Board of Directors and staff are excited about this opportunity. We look forward to hearing from you during the process and we hope you will encourage others in your department that may not be NCRPA members to join – especially if you have the agency package. If you have questions about this important change, please let me know.
Thanks for all you do to support the profession as a member of NCRPA
As parks and recreation professionals we are asked to fill many roles and be ready to change to better serve our communities at a moment’s notice. When it comes to marketing our parks, programs and events the scope of responsibilities can vary greatly. Sometimes our marketing and social media is coordinated by a dedicated marketing team, sometimes it’s a department director and other times it might be a programmer. If you are managing your departments’ social you have a variety of things to think about; when to post, what to post, and sometimes even how to post. Often these questions can be answered by asking our peers, reading various blogs and reviewing what industry leaders are doing. At NCRPA I use Buffer to help me manage and coordinate our social content. (Buffer is an app that helps you manage and monitor social media accounts.) In addition to being one of my favorite media management tools, Buffer does a good job of sharing research and tips on how to be a more proficient social media manager in an ever changing landscape. To get you started, check out this great blog and infographic from Buffer on posting frequency. https://blog.bufferapp.com/how-often-post-social-media
Don’t forget that if you are looking to take your marketing and social media to the next level you can join NCRPA at the 2015 Marketing Summit on April 14th in Durham, NC. http://www.ncrpa.net/event/Marketing
Stay tuned to the NC’Recre8’er blog all this month and April for more tips and tricks for marketing as parks and recreation professionals!
Last Wednesday NCRPA was fortunate enough to have Scott Knox, from Morrisville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, provide us with information regarding run groups and training for a 5K race. Scott emphasized that greenway trails can be perfect for recreational and wellness use, but many are not aware of their existence, or their ease of access. Run/Walk groups are a perfect way to educate communities on their park’s system, as well as the importance of health and wellness. Scott went over key points, such as getting started, who to reach out to in your community, and other helpful information of organization run groups and 5K training.
The first goal is to establish a base of interest. Social media, flyers throughout the community, and reaching out to people who would be interested in participating is a perfect place to start. The idea is to cater to families and individuals to contribute to the diversity of the running group, which will allow to meet the needs of all types of runners! The next step is to each out to an organization or special interest group that have similar interests or objectives as what you have set for the group. The groups can consist of healthy food vendors, sport equipment stores, or other sponsor groups. It will be easier to promote the run group if your department has external organizations reaching out to the community as well.
Now, where do we start? The key is to pick a time and place that will best suit your participants. Once again, it is important to promote the run group to all sorts of experienced runners. The next step is to provide the participants with something to follow, such as a 5K training program guide giving them a goal to achieve. Finding a way to instill motivation and inspiration among participants is critical for the success of a run group program!
Scott was extremely helpful with all the fruitful information that he provided. If you want to learn more about run groups, you can view a video of Scotts Webinar here: https://vimeo.com/121048064