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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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YPN Blog: March 2017

Posted By Eliza Kiser, Pullen Arts Center Director with Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Updated: Thursday, March 2, 2017

Leading Through Innovation As Young Professionals

As a child, I loved school, but I definitely fell victim to one of the trappings of performance-based academic systems; the perfectionist inside of me took over, and finding the “right” answer became the force that drove me. As I grew up and went out of the school system and into the world on my own, I struggled to make sense of my place in a messy world where there are so few right answers.

I’ll admit, the first gray hair I found a couple of years ago now has a few friends, and, with seven years in Parks and Recreation, I’m not as young a professional as I used to be. Still, it was a privilege for me to attend the NCRPA State Conference in October through the Young Professional Fellowship Program. It was my first NCRPA Conference, and I somehow got both myself and my inner perfectionist in with one conference badge! As an arts person in parks and recreation, sometimes I still struggle to make sense of my place in the profession. At the NCRPA Conference, I was again reminded of how wonderful the struggle to find your place can be, and I value the opportunity to share with you some of the questions and ideas that were sparked for me at the conference.

2016’s conference theme of “Leading Through Innovation” was a nod to both the excellent programs highlighted during sessions and the outstanding professionals that are making them happen. The further I get from the conference, though, the more I see the statement as something bigger with more important implications.

Leading through innovation is a concept for us to embrace as young professionals not only in the ways that we carry it back to our cities and towns, but also in the ways that we approach finding our places in the profession.

Our profession has been around for generations and each day I’m grateful for and reliant on the work that has come before me.  As a young professional, how can I honor the legacy of our profession, learn from where we have been, and remain relevant in a changing world? How do I find the balance between stewardship and entrepreneurship that is key in our profession?

I think the answer lies in each of us.

From where I stand at the intersection of being a young professional and having some experience under my belt, the best thing about being a young professional is the gift of not having your path set for you yet. At this intersection, there’s plenty of room for innovation, not only in the realm of programming, but also in the ways that you can develop as a professional. Embracing the struggle to find your place can force you to ask questions about yourself and your goals that an easy, clear path might never force you to ask.

At the conference, Dr. Deb Jordan presented a session on program evaluation entitled “What we do: does it matter?” The more I’ve thought about Dr. Jordan’s concepts and best practices for program evaluation, the more I’ve come to think they could be interesting tools for a different type of evaluation. What if we began leading through innovation by taking an innovative approach to our professional development? What if we used these tools to evaluate and map our own professional growth? What if these were the questions we thought through as asked for guidance from our supervisors and mentors on our journey toward leading through innovation?

Here are Dr. Jordan’s program evaluation tips that I’m going to use as tools for my designing my own professional development:

Don’t ask questions if:
You already know the information.
You’re not going to use the information.
The information won’t matter.
You can’t do anything about it.


Know:
Why are you asking the question?
Will potential answers tell you what you want to know?
Will you get enough information to be able to make a decision and take action?
How are you going to analyze the responses?

As young professionals, are we asking the questions we need to figure out where we are, where we want to go, and how to get there? Are we asking enough questions of ourselves and our line of work?

In her conference keynote, Dr. Maureen Dougherty defined innovation as empowerment plus creativity. As young professionals trying to develop and lead through innovation, how can we seek empowerment from our leadership and how can we prepare to give empowerment as a gift to the next generation of professionals? What would happen if we set goals and performance measures for our own ability to empower the people we lead? What would happen if we set goals and performance measures for our own creativity as leaders and as public servants?

As stewards of public resources, we have to strive for efficiency and performance, and, especially as a young professional, it’s easy to put your full effort into trying to find the “right” way to handle the messy business of serving human beings. In pursuit of a “right” way to serve our communities, are we getting stuck in the weeds and missing the big picture? Are we trying so hard to find the “right” answer that we sometimes fail to realize that the question has changed? Do we think too much about our profession and not enough about the world that’s changing around us? Where’s the right balancing point?

As young professionals, we have choices.  Will we stick to trying to find “right” answers?  Or will we embrace our messy world and its lack of right answers and do our best to serve by growing and developing ourselves as leaders through innovation?  What impact will our choice have on our profession and all of the young professionals who come after us?

I can’t wait to find out.


Meet the Author

Raised on a farm in rural NC, Eliza Kiser graduated from NC State University’s College of Design and started her career working as a project manager at an exhibit design firm. Eliza was born a public servant but took a winding road to find herself today serving artists of all ages as Director of Pullen Arts Center for Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources. A child who loved playing with blocks, Eliza continues to enjoy trying to put ideas, people, tools, and resources together in new ways to build cool stuff.

Eliza can be reached at eliza.kiser@raleighnc.gov or 919-996-6126.

 

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

Tags:  conference  innovation  leadership  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: January 2017

Posted By Katy Keller, Indian Trail Parks and Recreation, Thursday, January 5, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hello Young Professionals!

My name is Katy Keller, and I work with Indian Trail Parks and Recreation as a Program Coordinator. In a previous blog, Jared Mull from Transylvania County talked about why and how to get involved at the NCRPA level. This month I am going to build off of that and talk about taking on leadership roles early in your career.

When taking on leadership roles, here are several things to consider:

1) Find your passion. What are you passionate about? What do you want to do? Where do you want to be in 10 years? I struggle with these questions. Honestly, how are you supposed to professionally say, “I don’t know the right answer to this question.”  Instead, focus on your values. Write down what is most important to you and stick with it. From there, create your vision and write down goals that can help you achieve it. Once you have these down, get invested. Stand behind your cause.

2) It’s not always about you. We have all heard that there is no “I” in team. When taking on leadership roles, it’s important to take a “team” stance. Your decisions are now based on what is best for the team versus what is best for you as an individual. Know your own strengths and weaknesses first and strive to enhance them. Communication is key. The way you speak to others is just as important as how others receive the information. Make sure that the message is not lost in the delivery.

3) Watch, listen and learn. Great leaders should always want to learn more. To better your team, you have to better yourself. If people are talking to you, truly listen to what they have to say before speaking. One of the biggest things that I have learned is observing how people react to situations – whether it’s a peer or more distinguished professional. Find a distinguished professional either in your department or in the field. Establish a connection and get their advice or watch how they react to situations. Learn from them. When it comes to learning, always continue to seek out knowledge whether it’s through a workshop, conference, or other professionals.

4. Be at the table. If you’re truly ready to take on a leadership role, it’s time to make your presence known. Speak up at meetings. You have to get invested and get involved. Whether it’s speaking up at a meeting, signing up to do a session at conference, or wanting to get more involved in the NCRPA Young Professionals Network. Sell yourself. Don’t like public speaking or even speaking up? Join the club. Amy Cuddy’s Tedx explains it best in Fake It Till You Make It.

Here are some great resources and tips on ways that you can get involved:

  • Jump on a monthly conference call (some examples listed below):
    • NCRPA Young Professionals Network – information can be found here.
    • NRPA Young Professionals Network – next meeting is January 19 at 2pm
  • Find a Mentor
    • Find a distinguished professional in your department or field and send them an email introducing yourself.
    • NCRPA YPNs along with NRPA YPNs typically have a “Take a Professional Out to Lunch” or a similar program that pairs you with a distinguished professional in the field. Take advantage of this!
  • NCRPA Forums
    • Have a question or need some resources? Ask through the NCRPA Forum! On the flip side, if you can answer any of the questions that are coming through, do so. Get your name out there and get involved.

Ultimately, it is your decision whether you choose to take on a leadership role. I encourage each of you to take the next step in speaking up because what you have to say matters. As young professionals, we are the future, and you should have a say in that. 


Meet the Author

Katy Keller is a Program Coordinator with Indian Trail Parks & Recreation. Katy is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina and received her B.S. degree in Recreation & Park Management from Appalachian State University. Katy has previously worked as a Recreation Specialist for Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation. In March 2015, she was hired by the Town of Indian Trail, where her main responsibilities include programming, marketing, and overseeing contracts. Katy is also the East Central Regional rep for the NRPA’s YPN State Associations Committee and is active in the NCRPA YPN with Student Outreach. Outside of work Katy enjoys spending time with her husband and keeping up with her two toddlers.

If you would like to contact Katy or get more involved in the NRPA YPN, Katy can be reached at kkeller@admin.indiantrail.org or 704-821-8114.

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

Tags:  leadership  leadership roles  professional development  young professionals  ypn 

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