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 email@example.com or 704-821-8557.
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
Last Wednesday, March 25th, the NCRPA Wellness Initiative had the honor to have Ellis Hamburger, Communications team at Snapchat, Inc. host an incredibly informative Wellness Webinar. His webinar focused on the importance of physical activity for our overall health. He opened up his discussion by stating that even moving 30 minutes per day can decrease an overweight person’s chance of getting Type 2 Diabetes by 50 percent. For children, it is about 60 minutes per day of physical movement. Ellis discussed smartphone apps that provide us with the tools and some inspiration to remind us to be more active and health aware.
One of the first apps he suggested, Human, is an activity and calorie tracker. This app inspires you to move 30 minutes or more every day, whether if that’s walking, running, biking or any sort of indoor activity. You can map your runs, walks and activity using GPS and even compete with co-workers, family members or friends.
7 Minute Workout Challenge, is an exercise app that uses a research-backed workout program. Researchers have selected 12 exercises that are performed for 30 seconds with 10 second rest intervals. Exercises are simple to perform, and require little to no equipment. The app also tracks your progress, and results in higher daily metabolism and is equivalent of working out for over an hour. Exercises can include push-ups, wall sits, planks, jumping jacks or lunges, which all can be done outdoors or indoors.
Health for the IPhone and Google Fit for Androids, is an app that tracks your daily activity just by carrying your phone, such as walking, running, and cycling activity. As of now the US adult average amount of steps per-day is 5900 steps, where we should be aiming for at least 10,000 steps per-day. This app will allow you to set goals based on either duration or steps and you are able to see progress throughout the day.
To learn more about other apps that inspire and support a healthier, more activity lifestyle please click the following link to listen to Ellis’s webinar: https://vimeo.com/123629169
Using apps to support making a lifestyle change can provide support and motivation to kick off a healthier you! But it’s not just using an app its making a conscious effort to be more active, Ellis makes great points in the webinar about parking further from the door, getting off one bus stop earlier, or going for a quick walk during a lunch break. We encourage you to share this information and other inspirational ideas with your community through newsletters, or daily health-fact tweets through twitter. Remember, the more creative you are the more excited and involved your community will become.
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!
Welcome to 2015, the gyms are packed full of people who want to obtain their new year’s resolution of losing weight, becoming fit and most importantly living healthier. So, as a recreation professional, you already supply a weight room or workout area for the public, along with miles and miles of greenways, running and walking tracks, that will hopefully get used just as much in January when our resolutionaires, (yes, I made that word up), are putting in the work, as it does in June and July when those resolutions hopefully are still intact. However, what can we do to help our communities eat healthier as well? Maybe it’s our turn to take a stab at helping the citizens we serve not only reach their fitness goals but also empower them to be healthy in their food choices!
So, I have the perfect idea for you!
Let’s take all of the junk food out of our concession stands at all of our recreation centers and parks, most importantly our vending machines and stock pile them with all healthy foods and drinks.
Um...that's expensive, and what if everyone doesn’t eat it? We might lose money and the bosses don’t like losing money!
But if we go 100% healthy, everyone will have no choice but to drink our water and buy our healthy snacks!
Oh, wait, we decided already that not everyone wants those healthy things.
I know! What if we keep items like hotdogs and hamburgers, but offer them along with healthier options and healthier sides/snacks? This way we are not completely preventing our customers from the things that they want, hopefully in moderation!
So it’s settled then, we add healthy items to sell to those who are already health conscious, we eliminate the unhealthy items that don’t sell, keep traditional items like hotdogs and hamburgers and continue to turn a great profit on all of the items.
So clap along if you feel like creating a HEALTHIER community in which you work in!
TEN QUICK STEPS TO OFFERING MORE HEALTHY OPTIONS
1.Find out what items like traditional items like hot-dogs and hamburgers you community likes and keep them.
2.Find out what you sell the least and kick it
3.Offer free samples during big events to expose your community to healthier options!
4.Offer mutable fruit options, items you can freeze have added value!
5.Try offering Fruit Smoothies – you can use the frozen fruit
a)Yeah, I just saved you some money there too!
6.Offer nutrition facts about the health and the non-healthy items
a)You might inspire someone to change
b)But don't expect to change everyone and don't push them to change
7.Develop a marketing plan
a)Design signage that will appeal to your healthy eaters, leave it up!
8.Partner with others in your area that promote a healthy lifestyle for discounted goods or incentives.
a)Local Farms, athletic stores, Health Stores etc...
9.Search for a grants and funding that may help you fund some of the transition
10.Be healthy yourself, because the more motivation you have, the more motivation you’ll have to inspire change in others!
Posted By Colleen Dougherty, Graduate Assistant - NC Recreation & Park Association,
Monday, December 22, 2014
We all may have time off for the holidays, but that is no reason to take time off from a healthy lifestyle. Today’s blog will focus on some winter workout tips to stay motivated and inspired during the colder months. Feel free to share among your department and community to help keep everyone active during the festive winter season. The following workout and nutrition ideas are a great way to build unity among your department and bring together coworkers for fun activities.
Merrell’s Winter Workout Blogprovides great starter tips to encourage staying active during the colder winter months. The first idea is to ask coworkers to join in a morning walk or jog. Make sure to pick a rewarding end to your workout, such as fresh fruit and bagels for the office or stopping by a local coffee shop. It is easier to be motivated by having workout companions and a treat to kick-start the work day. If you happen to have the work day-off, you can still plan to meet with coworkers in your local park and grab brunch at the end of the workout. This can also create more unity among the office, as well as have a healthy common goal.
Additionally, joining a holiday-themed race in your community is another idea. Reach out to your coworkers and explore different runs that you can register as an individual or with your entire department. Many of these events support local charities and raising money for a good cause is a great way to not let the cold stop you from being active and fit. Once again, this helps with team building among the office and coming together during this festive season.
Another idea is to create an indoor morning workout circuit. If the conditions outside are icy and snowy then motivate your coworkers for a quick 25-30 minute morning or lunch workout. You don’t have to purchase heavy equipment to have an effective indoor workout. Easy circuit routines, such as core strengthening, lunges, squats, push-ups, and stretches can be still effective. You can easily find examples of workouts online, try this one for starters: 15-Minute Workout: Core Exercises.
Along with working out, set smartholiday nutrition goals, the following tips also provided by Merrell. Find a co-worker or friend to become accountable for each other. Find a manageable way to check in daily to let each other know if you have stuck to your goals. An easy way to keep track of eating is to keep a daily food dairy. It has been shown that those who keep a food diary, especially during the holiday season, are more likely to maintain healthy eating habits. December, continuing into January, is a good month to set monthly goals and to keep track of what you are eating and drinking. Lastly, plan your week or meals in advance. If you have multiple nights out or work parties approaching, then plan your healthy meals around these social occasions to balance your holiday nutrition. Be sure to stay hydrated and maintain a balance of fruit and vegetables among the sweet holiday treats.
I challenge all of you during the rest of December to engage yourself in healthy holiday eating practices and to exercise regularly. Set a goal to ring in the New Year, and maintain these holiday nutrition and exercise tips throughout the year for a healthy lifestyle. If you have any healthy eating ideas or exercise tips during the holiday season then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here:(firstname.lastname@example.org,http://www.ncrpa.net/?Wellnesssub)
Posted By Jason Tryon, Assistant Director of Parks & Recreation - Town of Indian Trail,
Thursday, December 18, 2014
When asked why I pursued the Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) certification. My initial thought was; why not? I think it is my obligation as a recreation professional to seek as much knowledge and offerings as possible. To me, the CPRP was a chance to reflect on my experience, and take the passion I have for this field into recognition, in the form of certification.
The certification was motivation to prove to myself that I have gained a great deal of experience and knowledge over the last few years. I found the study guide to be extremely interesting, with topics that I have not dealt with in several years. This helped refresh my mind on how to pursue certain issues. After my first time reading through the study guide, I realized what areas I needed to focus on. This helped me not only for the exam, but also with day-to-day responsibilities.
I also decided to pursue certification as a level of dedication and acknowledgement. I hoped that this could show my employer and other departments the dedication I have and, hopefully, help my career path along the way. I have noticed more and more opportunities that are seeking the certification as a preferred accomplishment for candidates. Since obtaining my certification I have advanced my career and I believe that this was one of the deciding factors to my employer.
Not only that, I pursued the CPRP because I love the field of parks and recreation and hope to continue my career path. In order to pursue advancement I believe it is vital to pursue any certifications I can. This does not just stand true for the CPRP but also for specialized certifications as well, like the CPSI and AFO.
The CPRP has helped me get involved on both a state and national level with several committees through contacts I have made with other professionals. CPRP has also helped me set an example to my staff. I recently had one staff member that I hired call me with such excitement to inform me of the same achievement. That moment was just as if not more exciting than obtaining the certification myself, it is a testament that what we do as recreation professionals can have an impact on not only our communities but our staff as well.
It comes at different times of the year for all of us: the season where we need 30 hours in a day. The time of the year when it doesn't seem possible that we are doing so much yet still keeping our sanity. How do we stay organized when our plates are so full? Below is a short list of tips to help you through your busy season:
1. Start early. It’s always something we intend to do, but it really does help. Even if it’s something small. Nothing beats opening a folder for an upcoming program and seeing that it already contains a list of necessary improvements, along with an updated registration form.
2. Create to-do lists. Start one for each program, and then make one each week (or even daily, if you’d prefer). Update as often as necessary. This will help give you a good idea of what tasks you’re up against, and you’ll be able to consciously balance your workload. Plus, doesn’t it feel amazing to cross something off a to-do list?
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Face it, you are going to need it at one point or another. Your busy season may not be so crazy for one of your co-workers. So ask! You’ll be able to return the favor one day! Bonus: it will give them insight on what you do on a daily basis.
4. Keep an organized office and desk. Think about it—if you walk into your office in the morning and see nothing but chaos, that’s most likely the mode your brain will function in all day. Stop and take a minute at the end of every day and clean things up a bit. This way, you won’t lose that to-do list that you worked so hard on—everything important is right there, reminding you it needs to be attended to.
5. Take time to regroup. This applies to you and your work duties. Every few days, take a look at the to-do lists you created in step 2 and re-evaluate. It will make you feel better to see that you’re actually getting things done. As for you—you can’t function at your most efficient capacity if you aren’t taking some time here and there to regroup. Take five minutes and meditate. Make sure you’re taking a lunch break. Have a good laugh. Whatever it is, just make sure you aren’t constantly under stress.
This list is by no means comprehensive. Some of you may have other tips and tricks to get by. We’d love to hear your ideas, be sure to share them on social media or via email with NCRPA! Good luck to everyone tackling their busy season right now!