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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: Winter 2019

Posted By Chamreece Diggs, Greensboro Parks & Recreation, Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Lifestyle vs Labels

 
As an African American woman I find myself constantly at a cross section of my label and my lifestyle; a place where the imaginary list of things society says I do or do not do defines my likely life experiences. Assessments about who I am or where I will fit-in are sometimes made based on whatever group or label someone puts me in.  These judgements are not excluded to strangers or people whom exist outside of my “label”, but instead encompasses almost everyone. I have spent my lifetime with people outside of my friends and family looking at me strangely when I discuss something that seems to exist beyond my label, like my love for NASCAR for instance. But at the same time, I have had close friends and family give me the same strange look when I talk about wanting to buy a kayak. We have become so conditioned to make decisions about a person’s lifestyle based on what we assume about their label that we limit an opportunity to connect and discover. 


So what does this have to do with parks and recreation? ... A lot. Because social equity and equality are becoming increasingly important, it is necessary for us to explore and discuss some of the more nuanced ways equity and equality present themselves in our work. As parks and recreation professionals we have the benefit of exposure to a wealth of people with an assortment of interest and experiences; through community engagement, networking, programming, facility use, and even as a part of our work group. How we choose to engage with others is shaped in part by conclusions we have drawn about who they are based on a label. It is naive to suggest that we simply not make assumptions about others or ourselves based on labels; it is impossible, we do it every day, all day and without thinking. Rather, a better practice may be to acknowledge that the label exist, then be intentional about how we make decisions and plans based on lifestyle instead. 


To be intentional about focusing on lifestyles, we open to expose and open to explore. Being open to expose means, exposing others to opportunities despite a label. We use feedback from the community to create programs and events that are of interested to them. However, there is value in introducing a community to activities that they may not have considered or that may have been out of reach. This is where equality and equity in parks and recreation is important. An example of this is an outdoor program we offer for teens in high crime, high poverty neighborhoods in Greensboro. Offering a group of 12 to 17 year olds a chance to participate in kayaking, archery, fishing, or camping for the first time creates an environment of access and opportunity. These teens did not know lakes existed in Greensboro or that they were available to them. They did not believed people who looked like them or people who are living in poverty went camping or kayaking. Now, not only do those same teens have an appreciation for the outdoors, they are eager to experience new things.

Being open to explore is more personal and means we are open to exploring the “imaginary list” that may be associated with our labels and finding ways to recreate beyond it. In 2015 I had an opportunity to travel to Italy. As I was preparing for this trip I made a list of all of the things I wanted to do. I knew Mount Vesuvius was in Italy but never considered it to be something I would do. Why, because it was so far from my imaginary list of things I was supposed to do that I could not believe it was accessible to me. When I received my final itinerary for my trip, Mount Vesuvius was on it. On the day I visited Mount Vesuvius I stood at the top and looked over into the volcano, at that moment I thought about what an opportunity I would have missed, had I stuck to my imaginary list. If we as parks and recreation professionals expand our experiences to activities beyond our labels, we are then able to share those experiences with others. If we limit our experience to cultural norms, gender expectations, age limitations and other label “constraints” we are also limiting the experiences of the populations we serve. If I were not open to exploring the outdoors myself, I would not have been open to exposing teens who share my label to the outdoors. 


I challenge each parks and recreation professional who creates and implements programs to be intentional about thinking from a lifestyle first perspective. Acknowledge that a person may belong to a label, but that their label does not define how they choose to recreate. I also suggest diving deep into your own label and exploring how that may shape your experiences. Be deliberate in finding, participating and sharing your experiences in order to enhance how you engage your community.  Discussing how assumptions made based on labels can influence our interactions, is a start to addressing social equity and equality issues in parks and recreation. 

About the Author

Chamreece Diggs is a Facilities Coordinator for Greensboro Park and Recreation. Her experience includes working with special populations, youth, administrative, marketing, project management, recreation centers, and special events. Chamreece prides herself on being create, adaptable, resourceful, and progress driven while working in parks and recreation. She received her Bachelors Degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Recreation Administration and earned Masters of Business Administration from University of North Carolina at Greensboro

 

Tags:  #NCRecre8  Chamreece Diggs  NCRPA  NRPA  Social Equity  YPN 

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YPN Blog: September 2018

Posted By Nicole Miller, PNC Arena / Carolina Hurricanes, Thursday, September 6, 2018

Decisions, Decisions

Life is all about choices. We make small choices every day and usually don't think twice about them. What to have for lunch, should I have another cup of coffee (not that this is really a choice, seeing as the answer is always a resounding yes), what should I do when I get home from work. All simple decisions that carry little weight in the grand scheme of things. However, sometimes our decisions are bigger, especially when they come to our career.

One of the most important lessons I have learned when it comes to decisions about your career has nothing to do with actually making the decision but rather how you move forward once you have made it. Lean into your decision and give it your best. This starts as early on as choosing your major in college. You're young; you don't necessarily know what you want to do with your life, but, by the end of your sophomore year, you're made a major choice. When I decided to major in Sport and Event Management, I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation, but I knew that I needed to give my classes my all and create the best future opportunities for myself, regardless of what I thought I wanted those to be.

When I applied for my job at NCRPA, I gave the interviews my all. I got insight from my current supervisor and mentor about the organization, studied everything I could on NCRPA's website, and practiced answering all of the classic interview questions I could think of. Deciding to take this job and move to Raleigh was easy. Once I got to Raleigh, I put my all into my job from Day 1. I was a brand new young professional, and I was eager to learn as much as I could and make the most out of the opportunity at hand. The NCRPA Fellow is designed as a one or two year position for a young professional to help them grow and develop a variety of essential professional skills and experiences. This meant that I had a set amount of time before I would have to make yet another big career decision.

Two years flew by and suddenly it was decision time. Time to decide what type of job I wanted to pursue next, where to apply, where I saw myself 5-10 years in future. As I was applying for jobs, I heard from a professor at Elon, my alma mater, regarding an opportunity for a job that was outside of the parks and recreation or non-profit field, where I had envisioned myself continuing my career. I decided to apply, and after going through the interview process, I was offered the position. Suddenly, I had a major decision to make. Thankfully, I have an amazing support team of friends, family, peers and mentors to discuss my choice with plus a propensity for wanting to know as much information as possible (hello, pro/con list). Ultimately, the decision was mine to make, and I knew that I no matter what I decided I needed to move forward with that decision with confidence

 I decided to accept the offer, and I will begin my new position in just a couple of weeks. Am I 100% confident in my decision, maybe not - decisions this big are scary, but that isn't going to stop me from taking all my of lessons and experiences that I have gained in my past two years and giving my new job my absolute best. Anything less would be a disservice to my new employer, NCRPA, and, most importantly, myself - and doing that was never a choice.


Meet the Author

Nicole joined NCRPA in 2016, relocating from Atlanta, GA. She graduated from Elon University with a Bachelor’s degree in Sport and Event Management, with Minors in Business Administration and Psychology. She has previously worked for Graham Recreation and Parks as an Athletics Intern during her time at Elon, and she interned for the Burlington Royals Minor League Baseball team in summer 2015. In her free time, Nicole volunteers with the SPCA of Wake County, is involved with the Triangle Civitan Club, and keeps the local Bruegger’s Bagels in business (one everything bagel and iced coffee please!).

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

Tags:  professional development  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: August 2018

Posted By Coult Culler, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Thursday, August 2, 2018
Updated: Monday, July 30, 2018

Staying Connected


Hello fellow young professionals! My name is Coult Culler, and I am the current summer intern here at the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association (NCRPA). After completing my internship, I will officially be a North Carolina State University graduate. I am graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management with a concentration in Natural Resources. My time here at NCRPA has allowed me to sharpen my profession skills, learn new ones, and most importantly meet some great people. In this month's YPN blog, I will discuss the importance of staying connected with past friends, classmates, professors, and other contacts.


Over the course of my four years in college, I was able to meet hundreds of individuals. Some of whom I now consider to be my best friends and will always keep in touch with them no matter where we end up in life. Others I have met were classmates, coaches, teacher assistants, and professors. It has taken me until this point to realize how important it is to stay connected with them. Staying connected has the potential to open doors and create new opportunities that may never have come around without the help of an old friend.


After finishing your general college classes, you are able to move into your major-specific classes. In these classes, you start to meet fellow classmates that more than likely share similar career goals as you do and partake in the same extracurricular activities. It is scary how fast those four years can fly by, and people start getting jobs and going their separate ways. After those four years, people have more than likely shared contact information or are friends on social media of some sort. Taking advantage of that information may benefit you more than you think. If you are currently working a job and have already started looking for new ones, or you are still on the search for either a part-time or full-time job, take advantage of the contacts you have access to. Your classmates may be in a position to help you find a job or even offer you a position at their current organization.


A lot of us had a favorite professor that taught multiple classes related to our major. He or she was able to get to know who you are from your assignments, projects, papers and other school-related content. They were also able to see you grow as a person over a couple of years. Professors are there to share their knowledge with young professionals that strive to make a difference in the world no matter where they may end up working. But looking down the road, they are there to help you even if you are not in school anymore. Professors have an endless book of connections that may assist you in the job search. When you are stressing about your current employment position and where to go from there, don’t hesitate to send that email. The connection with past teachers and professors goes past the classroom doors. Reaching out for advice or suggestions is something that they would be happy to share with you.


During my final year at NC State, I started to become stressed about finding an internship. I spent hours looking and applying but was unable to hear back from anyone. I finally ended up reaching out to my advisor who I had become close with over the years. Thankfully, she was able to give me a couple of leads to different places that had internships available around the Raleigh area. I ended up applying for the position with NCRPA later that day. Not too long after applying, I received an email back from NCRPA asking when I could come in for an interview. I immediately sent my advisor an email saying thank you for all of her help because without it I may have never gotten the internship. That just goes to show that building relationships with people over the years can benefit you in tough situations.             


My time at NC State was more than anything I could have asked for because of the people I met and the education I received. Now moving forward as a young professional, I am able to see the unwritten side of the real world. It is up to us to find a profession we have a passion for, but that is a lot easier said than done. Take advantage of the friends and contacts you have made over the years because you never know how they could positively impact your future.


 Meet the Author

 

Coult joined NCRPA this summer as an intern and is a native of Wilmington, North Carolina. He is planning on graduating from North Carolina State University at the end of this summer with a Bachelor's of Science in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management with a concentration in Natural Resources. Coult lives in Raleigh and enjoys making trips back to Wilmington to fish and be on the water.

 

Coult can be reached at ccculler@ncsu.edu or 919-832-5868.

  

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

Tags:  connections  intern  internship  networking  professional development  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: July 2018

Posted By Shawna Tillery, Greensboro Parks and Recreation, Thursday, July 12, 2018
Updated: Thursday, June 28, 2018

Juggling Family, Work and Life

Hi! I am so excited to write a blog post to fellow young professionals about what I like to call the balancing act called life. Let’s be real; being a wife, full-time working mom of two children, and dog mom makes for a very full plate.

To give you a little background on myself in my current role in Parks and Recreation, I serve as the Planning and Project Development Manager for the City of Greensboro’s Parks and Recreation Department. I took on this role in November 2016 while I was seven months pregnant with my second child. It was a bold move, but I am so happy for the opportunity to enter the parks and recreation world. My professional background has been in community development and city planning, so parks and recreation is new to me. Being that my experience was not in parks and recreation, it has been so enriching  to get to be involved in planning from the parks and recreation realm and learn about all the cool equipment and techniques for improving the quality of life for community residents (and my kids) in a different way than I have done in the past. It has also been challenging to juggle family, work and life.

I am consistently in-between work projects, supervisory responsibilities, after-hours work commitments, kid activity scheduling, household duties, and making time for my husband and family. Over the past two years, I have tried hard to make the transition of managing both my professional life and my personal life the best I can. It has had its difficulties, but I am so glad to have the opportunity to provide insights into some tips I have used for both my professional and personal life.

For my professional life, here are a few tips that have made the juggling act easier for me.

1)      I spend Friday afternoons getting prepared for the next week’s work schedule. I still use a paper calendar as well as Outlook to keep together my schedules and to-do lists. There is just something about writing my to-do list that is therapeutic for me and of course crossing off anything on my to-do list!

2)      Delegating is necessary. By knowing the strengths of your staff or co-workers, it gives you the ability to know who will be able to accomplish certain tasks with ease. For me, having a new fully-staffed team has been so refreshing. This has allowed me to feel more rounded when focusing on project development and management.

3)      Leave your office. There are some days when I get so busy and haven’t taken the time to take a break. It’s necessary; do it. Refocus yourself to be more productive, even if it’s for 10 minutes.

For my personal life, this has been hard because being a wife and mom you always have some type of guilt. I have worked hard in the past year to devote time to myself in order for me to be the best wife and mom I can be. Here are a few tips that have been beneficial for me to try and juggle the balance.

1)      Scheduling is key for my personal life. My husband and I share a calendar and each Sunday we attempt to review what is ahead for the week. This team approach helps to divide and conquer the week.

2)      We get babysitters. As a mom, you are always carrying guilt, but I have worked hard to not feel guilty for taking time for myself and marriage. Everyone deserves to get out! I have started to revamp my babysitter list since a lot of mine graduated. It’s essential!

3)      Take some time each week for yourself. Even if it’s going to the grocery store alone, it’s necessary. Do it.  We have recently started a new routine in our house called “free pass” night.  My husband and I choose one night a week or every other week where we don’t pick up the kids after work and have a few hours of just personal time - so far, so good on this. I would definitely recommend trying it and figuring out a schedule that works for your house.

Juggling family, work and life is one of the hardest things to do as a working professional. If any of you out there are able to use some of my tips to help you, then please do it. For me, I have worked hard to figure out the formula that works best for my life. Keep plugging along until you are able to find a formula that makes you feel like you are not being spread in 50 directions! 


Meet the Author

Shawna currently serves as the Planning and Project Development Division Manager for the City of Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department. In this role, she manages the departmental efforts in the areas of strategic and long-range planning, Capital Improvement Program, Capital Life Cycle Plan, and recreational bond referendums with regards to open space, greenways, trails, parkland and facilities.

Shawna completed her undergraduate degree at the University of NC at Wilmington majoring in Political Science with minors in Spanish and International Affairs. Shawna moved to Greensboro a year after completing her undergraduate degree to complete a Masters in Public Affairs at the University of NC at Greensboro.

After graduate school, Shawna worked as a Redevelopment Assistant for the City of Greensboro for three years - working with homeless grants, redevelopment area projects, and staff for the Redevelopment Commission. After working in Greensboro, Shawna moved into the position of Community Development Administrator for seven years at the City of Burlington. In this role, she managed two federal grants, which included both housing programs and community development projects.

Shawna is an active member of the Junior League of Greensboro, having served in several leadership roles for the past seven years. She lives in Greensboro with her husband, two children, and furbaby.

Shawna can be contacted at shawna.tillery@greensboro-nc.gov or 336-373-7808

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

Tags:  work-life balance  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: June 2018

Posted By Emma Griffin, Carrboro Recreation and Parks, Thursday, June 7, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Now What?

So, you’ve finished college, completed your internship, and finally got your first “real” job…now what? When I was in college, we were guided and coached on getting our first full-time job. I had always told myself I needed to stay in that job for 3 - 5 years to establish a good reputation, get my foot in the door, and to show loyalty and dedication. No one wants to look like a “job hopper,” right? But what is our next step? When is the “right” time to start looking for your next job?

That is the question I faced this past year. I had been working at Southern Pines Recreation and Parks Department for almost 4 years as the Senior Programs/Special Events Coordinator. I loved my job. I loved my coworkers. I had an amazing and supportive boss. Why would I ever leave? But then I found myself looking and keeping an eye out for job openings through NCRPA's Career Connection more and more often. And finally one day, it just clicked. I saw a job posted that I thought would be perfect for me, more specialized, and closer to home. After almost 4 ½ years working in Southern Pines, I made the decision to accept the job as Recreation Supervisor (Signature Events) for the Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department. I am not someone who typically likes change and I usually feel more comfortable in a familiar setting, but I was ready to accept the challenge and see what this new job had to offer and where it could take me in my career. Still the question begs, do you ever really “know” or are you just taking a leap of faith hoping it works out? I like to think it’s a little bit of both.

When considering the “right” time to look for a new job opportunity, remember that the right time for me probably won’t feel like the right time for you. Everyone is going to have different motivating factors for moving onward and upward in their career. What were mine? Simple, my family and growth in my career. While I had been working in Southern Pines for over 4 years, I had been living in Alamance County (Eli Whitney to be exact) during that time as well. For those of you not familiar with the area, it was a solid 1-hour drive to work every day. When my daughter was born and I returned to work in December 2016, my morning drive turned into two hours by the time I took her to the babysitter (plus the hour drive home at night). Yeah, the drive was awful but I had gotten very accustomed to it since I had also commuted over 45 minutes to UNC-Greensboro for 3 years. For me and my husband, it was worth it to us to live in the area we wanted, near family and friends, and for me to have a job I enjoyed and loved. That alone made the drive worth it. Even though I thoroughly believed my job was worth the long drive, I knew I would be crazy to pass up an opportunity to work 20 minutes from home.

I also firmly believe that it is necessary to always be learning, growing, and pushing yourself in this field in order to be the best Recreation Professional possible. If you become complacent, content, or just don’t feel challenged anymore, then you risk losing what makes our profession so special…your passion. In my last position in Southern Pines, I was fortunate to always be given the opportunity (and encouraged) to try new things and push myself. However, I felt myself slowly getting into a slump of just being happy with how my events and programs were going and not as excited to continue to make them grow and improve. That was another sign for me that it may be time to look for new opportunities in a place that I could challenge myself. Carrboro is a very unique town with an even more diverse and unique population. They offer larger scale events and programs to the community than in past departments I have worked in. The challenge and opportunity to be part of something like that made me excited (and a little nervous)!

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer. There isn’t a formula. I can’t lay it out step by step to tell you when it’s time to look for a new job. What I can tell you is, always know your own priorities and understand the pros and cons of your decision. I’ve been working in Carrboro for about 3 months now and when I was approached about writing for this blog, the idea for this topic came to me pretty easily since it is very relevant in what I have just experienced. But I found while writing this, that there’s probably a reason we never talked about this much in school, because there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution or answer to navigating your career.


Meet the Author

Emma Griffin obtained her Bachelor’s in Recreation and Parks Management with a concentration in Community Recreation and Event Planning and a Sociology Minor from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2013. During college, she worked part time and as a practicum and intern student at Gibsonville Parks and Recreation for 1.5 years, where she developed her passion for the field of public recreation. Emma worked as the Senior Programs and Special Events Coordinator for 4.5 years for Southern Pines Recreation and Parks. She recently began her job as Recreation Supervisor for Carrboro Recreation and Parks in March 2018. When she is not working, Emma enjoys spending time with her husband, Jay, daughter, Lilah, and friends and family. Emma loves taking walks, visiting local parks, and taking vacations at historical sites.

 

Emma can be reached at egriffin@townofcarrboro.org or 919-918-7367.

 

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

Tags:  career advancement  professional development  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: May 2018

Posted By Chris Allen, Rocky Mount Parks and Recreation, Thursday, May 3, 2018
Updated: Monday, April 30, 2018

The beginning of each year highlights National Mentoring Month, when we applaud the dedicated individuals that give their time and experience to benefit others.  After all, mentoring offers so many professional and personal benefits for people of all ages and backgrounds. According to the National Mentoring Partnership, of individuals that obtain mentors during any point in their professional careers, 90% are interested in becoming a mentor themselves and 130% are likely to be placed in leadership roles within their organization.  By preparing young professionals and advanced professionals alike, mentorship helps develop the future workplace talent pipeline. Mentors can help their mentees with their professional careers and assist with their workplace skills, so it is important that mentees sure their selected mentor has their best interest in mind when pursuing a mentor-mentee relationship.

Before you start having recurring nightmares of Farnsworth Bentley holding Sean “Diddy” Combs’ umbrella, mentors aren't just for reality television stars. A mentor is an individual that helps guide your development professionally and sometimes personally. In an increasingly competitive job market, a good mentor might be just what you need - whether you're a recent graduate or an experienced professional in your field and looking to make the next move. Before making that move, consider why you want a mentor. Mentors can be useful whether you are stagnate at your position or in a transitional period. A mentoring relationship should not be entered for its own sake. When looking for a mentor, don’t forget to consider finding one in your existing network. There are plenty of ways to find a mentor, but through your network on- and offline can sometimes be the best avenue. Once you have selected a mentor, make sure you are upfront about your goals and how those goals will be measured. It is important to develop the right mentor-mentee chemistry to ensure a successful relationship. As a reminder, a good mentor could be the catalyst that takes you to your desired position, so maintaining a good relationship could save stress to both parties.

So, to the professionals that are searching for mentors, be sure to take your time with your selection. It could be the difference between just working for a department or one day potentially becoming the department director.


Meet the Author

Chris “Ross” Allen originally from Wake Forest, NC, obtained his Bachelor’s in Athletic Administration from North Carolina Central University and his Master’s in Sports Management from the same university.  Chris has worked for the town of Wake Forest as Maintenance Specialist and the City of Durham as a Recreation Specialist. He is currently the Recreation Coordinator for the City of Rocky Mount. Chris is currently a board member for the National Recreation and Park Ethnic Minority Society while also serving as a Region Chair with the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association.

Chris can be reached at chris.allen@rockymountnc.gov or 252.972.1170

 

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

Tags:  mentor  mentorship  professional development  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: April 2018

Posted By KP Kilpatrick, Wake Forest Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, Thursday, April 5, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Did you know April is National Volunteer Month? A 2012 Huffington Post article highlights that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 64 million people volunteered at least once between September 2010 and September 2011. The Corporation for National and Community Service says it has collectively dedicated 8.1 billion hours to a wide variety of organizations. That donated time and expertise is valued at $173 billion. Volunteers are essential to organizations of all shapes and sizes, and, as young professionals, we often have the opportunity to either volunteer ourselves or lead volunteers at our organizations.

Volunteering opportunities offered by local Parks & Recreation Departments help connect the departments to the surrounding communities. When citizens volunteer their time, it helps enhance the support needed to make recreation and athletic programs operate successfully. Whether it’s a coach, a dance instructor, a referee, or a tutor—volunteers truly help your department thrive. Volunteers can also help you with strategic planning. They help by providing feedback and offering new ideas. Additionally, volunteers help grow the amount of participants in each of your programs. Most volunteers may have children or family members that want to partake in leisure activities. As you know, “word of mouth” is the one of the best and free marketing tools! Also, when people volunteer it empowers them and gives them a sense of accomplishment. Volunteering allows people to give back to their community and support a great cause. Recognizing volunteers for their participation through an awards banquet or luncheon is an awesome concept to keep them committed to their role. Without volunteers, several programs operated by local Parks & Recreation Departments, specifically ones with small budgets, wouldn’t be able to happen due to lack of manpower. Volunteerism and Parks & Recreation go hand-in-hand and will always be a useful concept to help your community thrive!

So this April make sure you thank the great volunteers who support your department or take some time to give back and volunteer yourself.

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Did you know that volunteers with your department are eligible to become members of Local Government Federal Credit Union and get the NCRPA Visa® Check Card? This card was created exclusively for volunteers and employees of parks and recreation departments across North Carolina.

Each time you use your NCRPA Visa® Check Card, LGFCU donates 50 percent of its share of the net merchant's fee directly to programs sponsored by NCRPA. Money generated by using the debit card helps fund scholarships and professional development opportunities for NCRPA members, marketing efforts for the profession, and local community projects.

Learn more here: https://www.lgfcu.org/products/debit-and-gift-cards/ncrpa-debit-card


Meet the Author

Fontae “KP” Kilpatrick, originally from Kinston, NC, obtained his Bachelor's in Recreation Administration from North Carolina A&T State University and his Masters in Sports Management from Middle Tennessee State University. KP has worked for the City of Lexington as the Athletic Director and City of Thomasville as the Recreation Center Director. He is currently the Athletics Program Coordinator for the Town of Wake Forest. KP is also a member of the Local Government Federal Credit Union Advisory Council and a previous member on the Davidson County Parks and Recreation Commission. KP resides in Raleigh with his wife, Jazmine, and their three-year-old son, Harlan.

KP can be reached at fkilpatrick@wakeforestnc.gov or 919-435-9457.



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

Tags:  community involvement  lgfcu  volunteer month  volunteers  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: March 2018

Posted By Kristen Herndon, Graham Recreation and Parks, Thursday, March 1, 2018
Updated: Monday, February 26, 2018

Benefits of furthering your education

It can never hurt to acquire more information and knowledge about your profession. The benefits of understanding what trends are emerging in today’s parks and recreation field are numerous! The constantly evolving field can really keep you on your toes and comprehending these changes will make it easier by furthering your education and skills. This doesn’t necessarily mean going back to school. Professional development and expanded education incorporates numerous facilitated learning opportunities, from college degree programs, to conferences, workshops, and informal learning opportunities.

A degree in the field is the first step to becoming a valuable member of a department. While it hasn’t always been the case, today’s entry level leisure services professional often has a college degree in parks and recreation or a related field. Whether you’re headed back to obtain an undergraduate or graduate degree, there are over 80 programs that are accredited by the NRPA.  While obtaining my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I expanded my practical experience through independent studies and internships, obtaining career preparation outside the classroom. The hands-on experience provided me with the opportunity to gain skills and knowledge to perform the tasks associated with working in the profession, such as risk management, programming, staff supervision, maintenance, budgeting, and management.

Continuing your education can open many career opportunities. Numerous professionals choose to engage in continuing education so they can further build competencies and facilitate career advancement. While in graduate school, I paid for the CPRP, CPO and First Aid Instructor courses and exams out of my own pocket so I could not only have a leg up on the competition but also could show that I was dedicated to the field and wanted to continue learning. If you become a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional or Executive, you will want to attend workshops and conferences to earn continuing education units. Sessions cover a variety of topics relevant to today’s profession and can focus on specific topics that professionals may seek assistance in. With the upgraded skills and knowledge that you will acquire through these sessions, you can improve your chances of a better position within the department you work for.  On the other hand, if there is no growth potential within your current job, then at least you will be improving your resume for your next career move.

One the greatest benefits of continuing your education is that it allows you meet other adults with like-minded ambitions and goals. Taking a course at a local college or training institution can help to expand your professional network. Both Appalachian State and UNCG assisted me in immersing myself into the field. Through independent studies, internships, mentors and their contacts, I met many professionals in the field.  This diverse network of contacts was very beneficial, as well as the experience and supporters I gained along the way. Conferences and workshops give you the opportunity to meet hundreds of other professionals in your field that you can interact and collaborate with too. With each annual state conference I attend, I look forward to seeing old friends, professors and colleagues, and love to pick their brains and catch up on what they are doing in parks and recreation. One of the easiest ways to network is becoming a member of NCRPA and NRPA.  The weekly emails and magazines really immerse you in all things parks and recreation and keep you informed about the newest trends, conferences, workshops, grant opportunities, and job openings.

You truly get out of your career what you put into it, and engaging yourself in the parks and recreation field can assist you in broadening your career opportunities, expanding your earning potential and help you accept opportunities with greater responsibility.  Set yourself up for a successful and purposeful career by involving yourself with particular organizations and professionals. Whether you go back for a degree, obtain a certification or just brush up your skills, you are doing not only yourself a favor but also strengthening the department you work for and the parks and recreation field as a whole. As mentioned before, NRPA and NCRPA are always great places to start, but if you want any further tips or assistance, feel free to reach out!


Meet the Author

Kristen Herndon is a Program Supervisor for Graham Recreation and Parks Department.  She started her recreation career over 14 years ago as a camp counselor in high school and continued into college as a rafting, caving and hiking guide in the summer and a snowboard instructor in the winter.  Subsequently graduating from Appalachian State University with a B.S. degree in Commercial Recreation, Kristen moved out west to manage a whitewater rafting company. After four years of chasing water, she moved back to NC to attend graduate school at UNC Greensboro, obtaining her master’s degree in Community Recreation.  She went on to become an Assistant Director of Student Activities at HPU, followed by becoming the Brand Ambassador for the U.S. National Whitewater Center, and then settling back into government parks and recreation with the City of Graham roughly 3 years ago.  When she’s not working, Kristen enjoys hiking, paddle boarding & spending time outside with her family & friends.

Kristen can be reached at kherndon@cityofgraham.com or 336-792-1189.

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

Tags:  career advancement  continuing education  education  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: February 2018

Posted By Peter Raymer, Mount Airy Parks and Recreation, Thursday, February 1, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, January 30, 2018

It was an honor to be named the 2017 NCRPA Young Professional Fellowship Award Recipient! Not only has this been a financial benefit for our department, but it has also served as a very important professional opportunity for me!

Financially, this came at a great time considering our city faced across-the-board budget reductions. The department’s travel and training line item was no exception. I would have had to forgo attending the state conference or other professional pursuits this year, but fortunately, thanks to this fellowship, I was able to attend this year’s conference. In addition, the rest of our team will still have an opportunity to pursue their continuing education this fiscal year.

In addition to the financial benefit of this fellowship, NCRPA also arranges a professional mentor. I was very fortunate to be appointed mentee of Ernie Pages, Director of the Town of Kernersville. Right off the bat, I was impressed with Ernie’s “drive” both literally and figuratively. When we were paired up, Ernie was currently in New Orleans for the national conference. He offered to come up to Mount Airy on Friday morning, the day after returning from the national conference. I was even more impressed when I found out he had driven from New Orleans the day prior and hadn’t arrived until that same morning we had met in Mount Airy. I came to find out that this action personifies Ernie as a person and a professional. He is a motivated individual and looks at challenges or setbacks as opportunities. Ernie and I have kept in touch and met up throughout the state conference. It was a great experience for me to learn how Ernie climbed the ladder and the defining moments along the way. As an expecting father myself, I really appreciated that Ernie also shared his experiences of balancing his professional life with being a family man. Not only was I able to add a great mentor in Ernie to my professional network, but he also made a point to introduce me to the impressive Town of Kernersville Parks and Recreation team. I look forward to visiting them all soon in Kernersville, learning more about their department and using them as a professional references in the future!

Ernie echoed a message that particularly stood out to me throughout the conference: “Put yourself out of your comfort zone. Ask for or take on a task that will help you prepare for where you want to be.” I heard this message several other times in conference sessions. My biggest takeaway from these sessions was that, although I may not be ready to take the next step at this moment, I may be ready in 3 years or 5 years. It is important to gain these skills, relationships and experiences now, so when I am ready to take the next step, my resume will match my ambitions. I always leave the state conference rejuvenated and re-energized but in particular this year I am coming back with a determination to not only improve each program I oversee but also to take on new challenges that may be out of my comfort zone but will make me a better professional and candidate one day when the time is right.

I’m very grateful to have received the fellowship and this experience. I’m looking forward to taking full advantage of the educational and networking opportunities and implementing what I have learned into a very successful 2018!


Meet the Author

Peter Raymer began his career in Parks & Recreation as a teenager serving as a sports official with Iredell County Parks & Recreation. Peter attended NC State University and received his Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management degree in 2008. Peter worked stints with Raleigh Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources and Honolulu YMCA before finding his “true paradise” in the City of Mount Airy Parks & Recreation Department as Program Supervisor in 2010. Peter spends most of the year programming youth and adult athletics and spends the summers directing youth summer camps. Peter says that the highlight of his job is getting to know everyone in the community and he strives to have a positive impact on everyone that participates in MAPR programs. Peter continues to officiate soccer and basketball and enjoys exercising and spending time with his family.

Peter can be reached at praymer@mountairy.org or 336-786-8313.

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

Tags:  carolinas joint conference  conference  mentorship  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: January 2018

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 mddiggs2@uncg.edu.

 

 

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

Tags:  professional development  Programs  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: December 2017

Posted By Monique Floyd, Greensboro Parks and Recreation, Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Parks and Recreation…more than you think

Many times while pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Parks and Recreation Management, my family and friends would often ask the age-old question, “so you want to be a Park Ranger?”, as if that is the only position one would have in this profession. Unknowingly to them, the field provides a breadth of career choices that have long been a staple in the local communities in which parks and recreation organizations serve. Some may have believed that the little league baseball teams they grew up playing on were run by the local grocery store owner or that coaches would randomly show up on Saturday mornings and impromptu games would just happen. Perhaps, the mythic ideas that dance and music programs held at local recreation centers were solely made possible by a private sector musician, or that halftime entertainment at collegiate and professional games were just a byproduct of the experience. Whatever the thought may be, many Parks and Recreation professionals are the brains behind many programs in the community such as various sport leagues, dance classes, special events, community gardens and the operation of the park system amongst other year round activities. Simply enough, Parks and Recreation is more than you think.

Like the field itself, one may venture to assume that all you will do at a professional conference is sit through long lectures aimed to give you data and information to help you become a better professional. I, on the contrary, believe the 2017 Carolinas Joint Conference will surpass those preconceived notions about what a conference entails. The 2017 Carolinas Joint Conference will offer a plethora of professional advancement ideas and opportunities to help you gain more knowledge, network and socialize with other like-minded professionals. The conference will offer educational sessions, tours of facilities, and have a host of socials for students and young professionals to attend.  With so many sessions to choose from, you may feel overwhelmed and question “what if I choose the wrong one? How can I be sure that what they are discussing is beneficial to someone like me?” As a guide to assist you in choosing the right sessions, the conference program will have session identified for students and young professionals marked with a lightning bolt symbol.

While students and young professionals are free to attend any sessions they would like, here are three of the several sessions identified with students and young professionals in mind. If you are attending conference for the first time, consider attending “Navigating 101- How to Make the Most of Your Conference Experience.” This session will give you great insight and tips on what to expect, what to do, and techniques on maneuvering in social networking environments with other Parks and Recreation professionals while at the conference. Additionally, upon entering the field as a recent graduate or young professional we often secure entry level positions such as Recreation Center Directors, Sports Coordinators, or Program Specialists to name a few. These positions and others like them help us embark on our professional journey and often place us in the middle of the organization’s and community’s political scene. The panel session “Community Recreation and Politics: How to Navigate the Muddy Waters” will provide attendees methods for how to interpret policy and procedures and better understand the chain of command when it comes to addressing political concerns from patrons. If you have the desire for growth and to be or do more in the profession, it is important to understand that the art of growth in the field takes preparation and action. The panel session “Upward Mobility: Cultivating the Skills to Excel in the Profession” will outline strategies used by professionals that may help you in your journey of moving up in the profession.

There will be other educational opportunities that include Resume and Mock Interview Drop-In Sessions, as well as off-site innovation institutes, including a student-only tour. At the resume review and mock interview sessions, you will be able to receive immediate feedback on your resume and interview presentation skills from current Parks and Recreation hiring managers. If you are Interested in exploring what the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department has to offer, in terms of careers and facilities, sign up for the free tour options at registration on the first day of the conference. This is a great way to get a glimpse into how the City of Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department CARE's (creates economic impact, advances conservation, rejuvenates health and wellness, and enhances quality of life) by providing a variety of opportunities at facilities and spaces that help build better lives and better community.

Last but not least, if you are looking for the chance to network and be social there are several opportunities for you. If you are looking for a mentor, sign-up to participate in the mentor-mentee lunch, where you will be matched with an experienced professional based on your professional interests. If you are looking to explore the city after a long day of attending sessions, come to Boxcar Bar + Arcade for a student and young professional social on Monday evening. Take along your conference badge for the chance to redeem a few free tokens.

Since social media is such a major part of our lives and a great way to share your experiences with friends and peers, be on the lookout for selfie stations and social media challenges throughout the conference, and be sure to tag any social media posts from conference with #NCSCParksCon. Stay up-to-date by downloading the 2017 Carolinas Joint Recreation Conference App on your smartphone and checking the conference website. As you can see, at this year’s conference there will be more than you think. We look forward to seeing you all there partaking in all that is in store for you. More information on all student and young professional conference happenings can be found here.


Meet the Author

Monique Floyd is a two time graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She obtained both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Parks and Recreation Management, with a concentration in Leisure Studies. She is currently serving as one of the Assistant Athletic Directors with the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department.  Her role consists of programming the Adult Softball and Basketball leagues as well as managing the field allocation and daily rentals of the department’s baseball and softball facilities. She enjoys being active and playing basketball - she was a four-year starter for UNCG’s Women’s Basketball team. She also enjoys hanging with family, exploring photography and listening to music in her spare time.

Monique can be reached at Monique.floyd@greensboro-nc.gov or 336-373-2946

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

Tags:  carolinas joint conference  conference  student  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: November 2017

Posted By Joseph Keel, Siler City Parks and Recreation, Thursday, November 9, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, October 18, 2017

From playing the game to leading the game

Parks and Recreation Professionals,

After graduating from Mars Hill University, I had one goal: to become a member of a professional parks and recreation agency.  After a month of interviewing, hard work and determination in finding the right fit for me, I accepted the Athletic Coordinator position with Aberdeen Parks and Recreation. It wasn’t long after being in Parks and Recreation that I decided I wanted to be a Parks and Recreation Director one day. With new career goals set, I took every advantage to learn the ins and outs of the Parks and Recreation field. I took leadership roles in the State Wide Athletics Committee (SWAC) and the NCRPA Athletics Directors Workshop (ADW). I worked closely with Aberdeen's Parks and Recreation Director to see what goes on outside of athletics. 

I attended sessions at NCRPA State Conference and ADW that directly correlated with my goal of being a Parks and Recreation Director. It was at these conferences where I heard this statement that stuck with me “You may have to go out, to go up.” Meaning I may have to leave Aberdeen to reach my goal of becoming a Parks and Recreation Director. I knew that was going to be tough, but if I ever wanted to accomplish my career goals, I had to be okay with this possibility. 

With excitement, I can say that I am now the Siler City Parks and Recreation Director. This new career path has its ups and downs though. I can tell you that it can be lonely at the top. I learned quickly that I’m not going to be everyone’s friend or make everyone happy. I am now the one who makes the big decisions that have multiple impacts. I am the one that is looked to for guidance. My phone rings every weekend and late at night with questions and concerns. I must be accessible 24 hours a day/ 7 days week, where before this wasn’t always the case.  

As an Athletic Coordinator, my primary focus was athletics. It was structured and ran like a well-oiled machine. As Parks and Recreation Director, my main focus is everything. I can’t focus on one aspect and allow others to fall by the way side. With athletics, I dealt primarily with a core group. Now I find myself in meetings and conversations with all different types of groups - all with different primary focus points. This career move was a huge jump in responsibility. I feel that this career move has matured me, not only as a park and recreation professional but as an individual.     

My advice for any parks and recreation professionals that may have a career goal of becoming a Parks and Recreation Director is to lean heavily on your supervisor. Let them know your career goals and ask them if you can take part in some of their day-to-day operations. This will let you really see what being a Parks and Recreation Director is all about. Attend conferences and learn as much as you can. Be okay with the statement “You may have to go out, to go up.” If you can do all these things and feel good about, it then GO FOR IT!!


Meet the Author

Joseph Keel was recruited in 2006 to Mars Hill University, where he became an everyday right-handed reliever out of the bullpen. He received his degree in Parks and Recreation Administration with a Minor in Business Administration in 2010. He graduated with a 3.5 GPA. After graduating, Joseph returned to the Carolina Mudcats, where he completed his internship the previous year. In July 2010, he took the Athletic Coordinator position for the Town of Aberdeen. Joseph was awarded the Young Professional Award by the NCRPA on September 15, 2016 at the Athletic Directors Workshop. In February 2017, Joseph accepted the Director of Parks and Recreation position with the Town of Siler City. Joseph enjoys playing golf, spending time at the beach, helping others and serving his church.

Joseph can be reached at jkeel@silercity.org or (919) 742-2699

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

Tags:  involvement  professional development  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: October 2017

Posted By Nicole Miller, PNC Arena / Carolina Hurricanes, Thursday, October 5, 2017
Updated: Friday, September 22, 2017

Hey everyone! It’s hard to believe that I have worked for NCRPA for over a year. This year seems to have flown by, yet last fall feels like ages ago. I have gotten to work on a variety of projects; each of which has helped me learn and grow in some capacity as a young professional. One of those projects was to increase the activity and visibility of NCRPA’s Young Professional Network.

 NCRPA’s Young Professional Network (YPN) is comprised of young professionals and students from within NCRPA’s membership who want to give back to their communities and the field of parks and recreation while growing professionally; they are the rising leaders of this field. I was thrilled to get to make our YPN even better for them. Part of revamping the YPN was the creation of the YPN Blog in October 2016. The blog is now officially a year old, and I am excited to get to contribute again. This monthly blog discusses topics that affect young professionals, and a different young professional writes the post each month. The blog provides an outlet for future leaders to share their voice and experiences with professionals from across the state and allows them to write about a topic for which they have a passion. As I said before, each project that I’ve worked on at NCRPA has taught me something, and I can wholeheartedly say that the Young Professional Blog is the gift that keeps on giving in that regard – I get to learn something new with each new blog post.

 If you’ve missed any of the blog posts, I highly suggest taking the time to go back and read them. They are interesting and insightful, and, as I said before, full of useful advice and information that can help make you a better professional. You can check out any of the blog posts at the links below, and they are always available on NCRPA’s NC Recre8’er blog.

 October 2016 – Transition from full-time student to full-time employee: Nicole Miller, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association

 November 2016 – Benefits of getting involved with NCRPA as a young professional: Jared Mull, Transylvania County Parks and Recreation

 December 2016 – Navigating generational differences in the workplace: TJ McCourt, Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources

 January 2017 – Taking on leadership roles as a young professional: Katy Keller, Indian Trail Parks and Recreation

 February 2017 – The importance of internships: Vicky Harley, Kernersville Parks and Recreation

 March 2017 – Parks and Recreation-“Leading through Innovation”: Eliza Kiser, Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources

 April 2017 – Embracing public speaking and overcoming nerves: Leanne Pressley, Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks

 May 2017 – Getting involved in your community outside of work: Laura Rice, Henderson County Parks and Recreation

June 2017 – Importance of part-time work in advancing your career: Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association

July 2017 – From Youth Council member to Youth Council Director: Jasia Stevenson, Greensboro Parks and Recreation

August 2017 – Being involved with NCRPA as a student and career development: Jennifer Games, Hickory Parks and Recreation

Even if you think that one of the blogs doesn’t apply to you personally, share it with your peers and team members, so they can benefit from it. As you can see, these blogs are written by a variety of people with diverse of passions, personalities, and interests, but they all have one thing in common: a desire to succeed in and contribute to the field of parks and recreation.

Want to share your passion, experience, or expertise with your peers by writing a YPN Blog post? Reach out to me, and let’s make it happen.


Meet the Author

Nicole joined NCRPA in 2016, relocating from Atlanta, GA. She graduated from Elon University with a Bachelor’s degree in Sport and Event Management, with Minors in Business Administration and Psychology. She has previously worked for Graham Recreation and Parks as an Athletics Intern during her time at Elon, and she interned for the Burlington Royals Minor League Baseball team in summer 2015. In her free time, Nicole volunteers with the SPCA of Wake County, is involved with the Triangle Civitan Club, and keeps the local Bruegger’s Bagels in business (one everything bagel and iced coffee please!).

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

Tags:  blog  ncrpa  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: August 2017

Posted By Jennifer Games, Hickory Parks and Recreation, Thursday, August 3, 2017
Updated: Monday, July 31, 2017

How NCRPA Helped Shape My Career

Hey Everyone,

I am Jennifer Games, and I work for Hickory Parks and Recreation Department as a Recreation Programmer and AFAA Certified Group Exercise Instructor. I would like to take the time to express how amazing NCRPA is, and why I am so glad to be a part of an awesome organization. I have been a member of NCRPA since 2012, my freshman year in college. I attended every NCRPA conference I had the opportunity to go to. I made it a point to meet someone new every time I attended a conference. There are so many knowledgeable professionals in Parks and Recreation, and attending conferences is a great way to meet them.

As a student, the conferences were so beneficial to me. I was able to go to sessions I was interested in, as well as learn more about the trends in Parks and Recreation. At each session I was able to learn new things, talk to other students about their experiences, network, and get insight as to how other departments operate. My dad is the Director for Craven County Recreation Department, so recreation became a huge part of my life growing up. I would see how happy my dad was, and I knew then that I wanted to make a positive difference in the community through my own career in Parks and Recreation. With that being said, I am very familiar with how my dad’s department operates, but I was very interested to find out what other departments offered.

I will never forget the NCRPA Joint Conference in Myrtle Beach that I attended during my senior year in college. Tom O’Rourke was the Key Note speaker for the college students. He was so inspirational and taught me so much about becoming a young professional. Tom O’Rourke gave us tools to use when applying for jobs as well as how to differentiate ourselves in a professional manner. As a young professional, these conferences have helped me implement new program ideas as well as provide opportunities for me to talk to other professionals on the programs they offer.

Another great opportunity I took advantage of as a student was being a part of the NCRPA Professional Development Committee. The committee was created to discuss, and design the description for the new Professional Development board position for NCRPA. It was a great experience being a part of a NCRPA Committee. I really felt like I was making a difference. I was able to gain a lot of knowledge and experience I may not have acquired in the classroom. Being on the Professional Development committee also helped me network and gain more experience in team work. 

Overall, I owe a huge thank you to all of the staff members of NCRPA, committee members, session leaders, keynote speakers, and all of the helpful professionals in our field. NCRPA, my professors from East Carolina University, and my parents helped shape me to the young professional I am today. I was very fortunate to be able to get a job in recreation two weeks after graduation. I really feel that if I was not a part of NCRPA it would have been more difficult to find a great job so quickly. My advice to all other young professionals is to take every opportunity to be involved in NCRPA and strive to make a positive difference within your community.


Meet the Author

Jennifer Games works for Hickory Parks and Recreation Department as a Recreation Programmer and AFAA Certified Group Exercise Instructor. Her father, Eddie Games, is the director of Craven County Parks and Recreation Department, so she grew up with knowledge of recreation. Jennifer attended college at East Carolina University and recently graduated in May of 2016 with a B.S Degree in Parks and Recreation with a concentration in Sports Leadership. She rode on the Equestrian team for ECU, played intramural volleyball, and was involved in the Recreation and Park Management club. She enjoys being outside, riding horses, hiking, playing volleyball, meeting new people, going to the beach, spending time with friends and family, and loves helping people.

Jennifer can be reached at jgames@hickorync.gov or 828-261-2258.

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

Tags:  involvement  NCRPA  student  young professionals  ypn 

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YPN Blog: July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Meet the Author

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

Jasia can be reached at jasia.stevenson@greensboro-nc.gov or 336-373-2734.

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

Tags:  young professionals  youth council  ypn 

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