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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 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.

 

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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 http://www.burlingtonnc.gov/831/Davidson-Park

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Tags:  #NCRecre8  50at50  Burlington  parks  recreation 

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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 http://www.townofchapelhill.org/town-hall/departments-services/parks-recreation/facilities-greenways-parks/parks/umstead-park or Bolin Creek Greenway visit http://www.townofchapelhill.org/town-hall/departments-services/parks-recreation/facilities-greenways-parks/greenways/bolin-creek-trail

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Tags:  #NCRecre8  50at50  Parks  Recreation 

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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 http://mtairynews.com/news/53108/foxx-pays-visit-to-city-park. 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 http://www.mountairy.org/Facilities

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Tags:  50at50  Mount Airy  NRPA  parks  Recreation 

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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 http://www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/Details.aspx?type=SPRK&id=736 and https://www.belleisleconservancy.org/ 
 

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Tags:  50at50  Detroit  parks  recreation  revitalization 

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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 http://www.raleighnc.gov/parks/content/ParksRec/Articles/Parks/Roanoke.html

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Tags:  50at50  parks  partnerships  Raleigh  recreation 

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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 https://www.apexnc.org/795/Apex-Community-Park

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Tags:  50at50  Apex  parks  play  recreation 

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50 at 50 - July 7

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, July 7, 2017
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 http://kinstonnc.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/Bill-Fay-Park-22

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Tags:  50at50  kinston  parks  recreation 

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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 https://durhamnc.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/Piney-Wood-Park-135 and the Piney Wood Dog Park visit https://durhamnc.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/-160

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Tags:  50at50  Durham  NCRecre8  parks  recreation 

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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 https://www.ncparks.gov/kerr-lake-state-recreation-area
 

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Tags:  50at50  NC State Parks  parks  recreation 

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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 http://www.selma-nc.com/parks-and-recreation

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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50 at 50 - June 9

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, June 9, 2017
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 http://www.co.surry.nc.us/departments/(k_through_z)/park_and_recreation/fisher_river_park/index.php

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Tags:  50at50  NCRecre8  NCRPA  parks  Recreation 

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50 at 50 - June 2

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, June 2, 2017
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: http://www.townofmorrisville.org/index.aspx?nid=748 

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Tags:  50at50  NCRecre8  parks  recreation 

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50 at 50 - May 26

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, May 26, 2017
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 http://www.townofcary.org/recreation-enjoyment/parks-greenways-environment/parks/downtown-park 


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.  

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Tags:  50at50  NCRecre8  parks  recreation 

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June is Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month!

Posted By Matthew Carusona, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, June 13, 2016

Summer is here and the weather is warmer, especially this past weekend. Thankfully you can grab a fresh slice of orange or watermelon to cool you down! June is Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month and this week’s blog will highlight a few resources to get more fruits and vegetable on your plate whether it be at home or at work as part of your programs!

Buy in Season, Buy Local: Have you ever wondered, what’s in season? Well the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services makes it easy with their NC Produce Availability Chart. This chart can be used for finding the freshest and best tasting produce available. Buying your produce at a local farmer’s market, or grocery store that sources locally further ensures your produce is fresh; better yet, see if you can buy direct from a local grower. Additionally extra fruit and vegetables can be frozen and used later for anything from smoothies to fruit desserts.

Grow a Garden: Teaching citizens about healthy eating is important, but they cannot put that knowledge into practice if they do not have access to healthy food outside of class. Community gardens are a fantastic way to promote healthy eating. They can help teach people where their food comes from, and give them a chance to connect with their neighbors. Gardens can be small or large, but even a small garden can have a large impact on the health of your community. Check out our Community Garden Page in the wellness toolkit for more info.

Set Healthy Snack Guidelines: Parks and recreation agencies provide a lot of programming for children. Often that programming involves food, which can often be unhealthy. Providing fresh produce can be a great way to keep things healthy and expose participants to different fresh fruits and vegetables. Our wellness toolkit has some great guidelines and resources for increasing healthy snacks and food in sports, camp, afterschool, and other programs. Check out our Healthy Snack Guideline Page in the wellness toolkit for more info.

Quick Ideas: While large-scale projects are great, don't be discouraged if you don't have the resources to tackle a large project right away. Here are some easy things you can do to promote fresh fruits and vegetables along with wellness in your agency right now!

  • Healthy snack day at community center (provide fresh fruit and vegetables to each participant, or work with a local vendor to have a fresh fruit and vegetables food week)
  • Short health lesson with a healthy snack, consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables in after-school programs.
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables at staff meetings.
  • Fruit Fridays! Bring a different fruit to staff one Friday each month for a snack. Include a healthy recipe if you wish.
  • Pick up veggies from the farmer’s market (or harvest them from your garden) to share with staff.
You can also check out our webinar: 10 Ways to Improve Wellness in Your Department Now!

Tags:  Community Gardens  Health  Health and Wellness  Health Eating  Healthy Cooking  healthy eating  Healthy Foods  Healthy Lifestyle  Healthy Living  Healthy Snacks  Healthy Snacks Program  Live Healthy  Local Vendors  ncrpa  Recreation  Snack Nation  Wellness  Wellness bulletin 

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Getting to know the NCRPA Summer Interns!

Posted By Matthew Carusona, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Thursday, June 9, 2016

This Summer NCRPA is hosting two AWESOME interns!  We asked  Hana and Andrea.a few questions to help our members get to know them. You can contact them at Hana@ncrpa.net or Andrea@ncrpa.net 

1. What has been the best part of your internship so far?

Andrea: The most interesting part of my internship so far has been getting to go and sit in on an NCRPA board meeting! It was a great way for me to see all the moving parts of NCRPA behind the scenes.

Hana: I enjoyed visiting different departments while helping with NCRPA's events. Going to these events gives me the opportunity to meet a diverse group of parks and recreation professionals.

2. What are you most excited about moving forward?

Hana: It would be learning about how different recreation and parks organizations in our state operate and gaining knowledge to help me in my career decisions for the future.

Andrea: I am most excited to help out at the Football Summit that is partnering with USA Football and the Carolina Panthers. 

3. One cool or interesting fact people may not know about you?

Andrea: I've gone waterfall hiking in Honduras for the past two years while on orphanage outreach trips!

Hana: The past year I have been traveling all across the United States on weekends facilitating youth activities as part of an internship with Project YES!

Tags:  Blogs  intern  Local Parks  National Recreation and Park Association  NC State  ncrpa  NCSU  NRPA  Organization  Parks  Programs  Recreation  WCU  Western Carolina  Youth Programs 

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