Parks & Recreation Magazine February 2022

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F E B RUA RY 202 2 N R PA .O RG



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contentsfebruary 2022 volume 57 | number 2 |

A true ally will advocate by lifting others up, will share growth opportunities equitably, will recognize systematic inequalities, will realize the impact of micro-aggressions and unconscious bias, and, most importantly, will listen, support, selfreflect and change first on a personal level, and then as a professional.


34 30 Under 30 for 2022

Michael Biedenstein, CPRP, AFO

Parks & Recreation magazine and NRPA’s Young Professional Network present the second annual program honoring 30 of the top young park and recreation professionals in the field.


Parks & Recreation

44 The Perfect Moment: The Academy, Allyship, Awareness and Advancement Tracey Crawford, CTRS, CPRP, and Roslyn Johnson, CPRP

The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee aims to create allies and promote diversity.

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48 Message Received Denise Anderson

Learn some tools and best practices for effective verbal and nonverbal communication.


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contents february


departments 12

10 Editor’s Letter True Leadership Means Lifting Up Everyone Vitisia Paynich

We Are Parks and Recreation Remembering Dirk Richwine: Park and Recreation Leader, Advocate and Mentor 12 The Path to CAPRA Accreditation 13 Lessons Learned From Settlement Regarding Accessible Playground Surfacing 14 Earn Recognition With an NRPA Award 15 Member Benefit: Five Tips for Using NRPA Connect 15



Finance for the Field Positioning Parkland Dedication Ordinances as a Central Element in Fiscally Conservative Fast-Growth Cities John L. Crompton, Ph.D.

20 Advocacy


One Leader’s Commitment to Equitable Access of the Bay Area Shoreline Erich Pfuehler and Lisa Baldinger

Recruiting and Retaining Young Adults to the Park and Recreation Workforce Kevin Roth


Perspectives Leading the Field, Leading the Future Carolyn F. McKnight-Fredd

22 Health and Wellness

Park Pulse

Reshape Your Workplace: Starting a Wellness Movement Through Affirmation, Voice and Choice Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH

Gain Career Experience With Parks and Recreation

52 Park Essentials

24 Equity . etting Girls and Women Into the Game for a Lifetime of Success G Kim Turner

55 Advertiser Index 56 Park Bench

26 Conservation

STEAM Education Gets the Green Light Jenna Brinkman

Creating Partnerships for People and Wildlife Naomi Edelson

28 Law Review Youth Baseball Disability Discrimination Claim James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D.

Cover image: Image compostion by Kim Mabon

Parks & Recreation is printed using soy ink on at least 10 percent post-consumer recycled paper and is mailed in a wrap — only when required — that is plant based and certified compostable. If you are interested in helping us go even greener, email us at and ask to opt out of receiving the print magazine. Parks & Recreation is always available to read in an ezine format at


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Not only do we need all levels of government in the conservation sphere to be working together, but also we need all outdoor enthusiasts to work together to create the political will to support these agencies’ work.

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©2021 Landscape Structures Inc. All rights reserved.

P E R S P E C T I V E S A M E S S A G E F R O M N R P A’ S L E A D E R S

Leading the Field, Leading the Future During my four years on the NRPA Board of Directors, I have worked alongside amazing leaders who have guided the board to successfully achieve its goals. This year, I am honored and humbled to be elected as chair and I am excited to continue serving this organization and its members in this important role, carrying forward the work of many great leaders who came before me. Speaking of leaders, the field of parks and recreation is full of remarkable people who step up every day — from delivering aid during a crisis, to developing innovative methods for proactively addressing the challenges of the future, to providing the life-saving benefits of the outdoors to all, to shaping the physical and mental health of communities through program offerings, and more. No matter your role, as a park and recreation professional, you are leading the way to a healthier, more resilient and more equitable future. In this issue of Parks & Recreation, we highlight some of the top young leaders in our field, from park and recreation agency directors to graphic designers and more. Each of these young pioneers has earned their way to this recognition by going above and beyond in service of their community. As you take part in this vital work, NRPA is committed to supporting you. In my letter to the membership in November, I asked, “Where do we go from this point?” and posed the following answer: As the leading organization in the field of parks and recreation, NRPA remains steadfast in centering equity in all of our work — including our conservation and health and wellness initiatives — to continue supporting our members in building amazing and resilient places and spaces for communities across the country. I believe that through collaboration with other partners and agencies, we will create opportunities that will better serve our profession. We will continue the work of identifying champions throughout the country who are doing the important and essential work of serving their communities. We will connect with policymakers at all levels, as well as leaders in the business and philanthropy communities, to advocate on behalf of and generate funding support for large and small communities. We will continue to position our professionals as global leaders who work to diminish the devastating impacts of climate change and health disparities. We will be innovative in how we bring the next and best practices to all we serve. And, most importantly, we will be relentless about equity in all we do. Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, once said, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” As park and recreation professionals, you work behind the scenes every day to ensure a better life for all. We at NRPA recognize your hard work and service to your communities, and we thank you.

C AROLYN F. MCKNIGHT-FREDD Chair, NRPA Board of Directors


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2377 Belmont Ridge Rd. | Ashburn, VA 20148 2 703.858.0784 |

NRPA’S MISSION: To advance parks, recreation and environmental conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life for all people. EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Chair of the Board of Directors Carolyn McKnight-Fredd, CPRP Eagle Methods Management Consulting Dallas, Texas

Treasurer Xavier D. Urrutia Alamo Colleges District San Antonio, Texas

President and CEO Kristine Stratton, Ex Officio National Recreation and Park Association Ashburn, Virginia

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Michael Abbaté, FASLA, LEED AP Abbaté Designs Portland, Oregon

Kathy Abbott Boston Harbor Now Boston, Massachusetts

Jesús Aguirre, CPRE

Carolyn McKnight-Fredd, CPRP

City of Bristol Parks and Recreation Bristol, Connecticut

Arnold L. Randall Forest Preserve District of Cook County Chicago, Illinois

Nonet T. Sykes Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. Atlanta, Georgia

Xavier D. Urrutia Alamo Colleges District San Antonio, Texas

City of Las Vegas Parks and Recreation Las Vegas, Nevada

Philip Wu, M.D. (Retired) Kaiser Permanente Northwest Region Portland, Oregon

Lexington, South Carolina

North Portland, Oregon

Anne S. Close

Jose Felix Diaz

James H. Evans

Angelou Ezeilo Greening Youth Foundation Atlanta, Georgia 860.531.2391

Greg A. Weitzel, M.S., CPRP

Rebecca Armstrong

Dover, Kohl & Partners Town Planning South Miami, Florida

Unique structures for all ages and abilities, designed with quality and safety in mind. Partner with our experienced playground professionals from planning through installation.

Richland County Recreation Commission Columbia, South Carolina

LIFE TRUSTEES Beverly D. Chrisman

Victor Dover

Play is essential. NetPlay USA makes it fun.

Lakita Watson, CPRP

Seattle Parks and Recreation Seattle, Washington

Ballard Partners Miami, Florida


Earthjustice Boulder, Colorado

Joshua Medeiros, Ed.D., CPRE

Abbaté Designs Portland, Oregon


Mollie Marsh-Heine

City of Bristol Parks and Recreation Bristol, Connecticut

At Large Mike Abbaté, FASLA, LEED AP

Adventure Courses

Joanna Lombard

Eagle Methods Management Consulting Dallas, Texas

Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. Atlanta, Georgia

Swings + Nests

University of Miami School of Architecture; Miller School of Medicine Department of Public Health Sciences Miami, Florida

Secretary Joshua Medeiros, Ed.D., CPRE

At Large Nonet T. Sykes


Fort Mill, South Carolina New York, New York


Rosemary Hall Evans Sugar Hill, New Hampshire

Earl T. Groves Gastonia, North Carolina

Charles E. Hartsoe, Ph.D. Richmond, Virginia

Richard Gulley

Harry G. Haskell, Jr.

San Diego Parks and Recreation San Diego, California

Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania

Kathryn A. Porter

Monica Hobbs Vinluan

Mendham, New Jersey

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Ashburn, Virginia

Perry J. Segura

Susie Kuruvilla

R. Dean Tice

Gurnee Park District Gurnee, Illinois

Round Hill, Virginia

New Iberia, Louisiana

Eugene A. Young, CPRP Baton Rouge, Louisiana

800-803-8676 © 2021 The Toro Company. All Rights Reserved.

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True Leadership Means Lifting Up Everyone “Do not desire to fit in. Desire to oblige yourselves to lead.” — Gwendolyn Brooks Every day, park and recreation professionals not only serve their communities, but also choose to lead them. Throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, they’ve taken the lead on organizing food distribution locations, assisting with logistics for popup COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites, and offering critical online learning facilities for children of working parents and guardians. When it comes to community leadership, parks and recreation sets a very high bar. And speaking of setting a high bar, in our cover story, “30 Under 30 for 2022,” on page 34, NRPA’s Michael Biedenstein presents the much-anticipated young park and recreation professionals to watch this year. This marks Parks & Recreation magazine’s and the NRPA Young Professional Network’s second annual 30 Under 30 recognition program. These 30 exceptional individuals elevate the field with their innovative thinking, problem-solving abilities, and unwavering dedication to the patrons and communities they serve each and every day. And, most importantly, these professionals share a commitment to placing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at the center of their work. DEI is also at the heart of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration’s (the Academy’s) mission of becoming more inclusive in its membership and making the field at large more diverse. In the feature article, “The Perfect Moment: The Academy, Allyship, Awareness and Advancement,” on page 44, co-chairs Tracey Crawford and Roslyn Johnson take a closer look at the origins of the Academy’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and why allyship is vital to this work. “An ally makes a continual investment of their time in having those brave conversations, supporting others, holding themselves accountable when mistakes are made, apologizing and making the effort to educate themselves to better understand the alternative perspectives,” Crawford and Johnson write. Strong leaders know that good communication is critical to ensuring transparency across the organization spectrum, and that colleagues remain on the same page when it comes to achieving objectives. In the feature article, “Message Received,” on page 48, contributor Denise Anderson outlines best practices for successful verbal and nonverbal communication. She writes, “[C]lear, effective communication is critical to a leader’s or manager’s success and contributes to their employees’ and the agency’s success as well. Failure to effectively communicate may lead one down a path of miscommunication, distrust, anger, inefficiency and other negative outcomes.” And as park and recreation professionals continue to make DEI a priority for their organization, let us not forgot one simple point: a true leader is someone who doesn’t just inspire a few like-minded people, but is one who can masterfully lift up everyone to reach the same goal.

VITISIA “VI” PAYNICH Executive Editor Director, Print and Online Content 10

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MAGAZINE ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS Anthony-Paul Diaz, Chair Michael Abbaté, FASLA Neelay Bhatt Ryan Eaker Beau Fieldsend Kathleen Gibi Paul Gilbert, CPRP Tim Herd, CPRE Brian Johnson, CPSI Denise Johnson-Caldwell Roslyn Johnson, CPRP Michele Lemons Sam Mendelsohn Maria Nardi Lisa Paradis, CPRP Paula Sliefert Shonnda Smith, CPRP, AFO Ronnetta Spalding Anne-Marie Spencer Stephen Springs



© 2022 The Toro Company. All Rights Reserved.


WE ARE PARKS AND RECREATION Remembering Dirk Richwine: Park and Recreation Leader, Advocate and Mentor


n December 19, the field of parks and recreation lost one of its most dedicated and passionate leaders, mentors and advocates, Dirk Richwine. “Dirk Richwine was one of [the] most committed politic [supporters] of the parks and recreation field,” says Jodie Adams, a past president of NRPA and past chair of the Gold Medal Awards Program Committee. “The passing of Dirk will be monumentally felt by the park and recreation organizations and communities he served and contributed to over his life’s work [throughout] our nation. One word can describe Dirk Richwine’s passing — heartbreaking.” For nearly four decades, Richwine worked as a park and recreation professional. He was a graduate of Arizona State University where he received a bachelor’s degree in community recreation and Golden Gate University where he received a master’s degree in public administration. He began his career in parks and recreation working within communities throughout Arizona in various roles, such as recreation leader, recreation coordinator, recreation superintendent and assistant to the city manager. He then went on to serve five years

as the director of parks, recreation and community services for the City of Brighton, Colorado. Under his leadership, the department became a finalist for the Gold Medal Award in 1997, 1998 and 1999. During his tenure with the department, Richwine contributed to the design and construction of a four-field lighted sports complex, renovation of a youth sports complex, development of two neighborhood parks, acquisition and exchange of open spaces, trail access and development, establishment of a Cultural Arts Commission, creation of a Cultural Arts Master Plan, and more.

Richwine continued his park and recreation education throughout his career, graduating from Indiana University Bloomington’s Executive Development Program in 1986, and taking part in NRPA’s Revenue Management School for multiple decades. In 1999, he joined the City of Henderson (Nevada) Parks and Recreation Department where he worked for 14 years, including nine years as assistant director. During his tenure, City of Henderson was awarded the National Gold Medal Award and became Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) accredited, becoming the second accredited agency in the Western United States. Additionally, while working for the City of Henderson, Richwine was critical to the completion of 16 new parks and more than 15 miles of trails. He created the parkland standards for future preservation, acquisition and development and contributed to many successful and highly impactful projects, including the department’s Comprehensive Plan, Open Space Plan, City Wide Strategic Vision, and development of the department’s first Business Plan. To read more about Richwine’s contributions to the field of parks and recreation, visit DirkRichwine. In 2019, Dirk Richwine (left) received the NRPA National Distinguished Professional award, which is presented to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of parks and recreation.


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Milwaukee Recreation becomes nation’s first school district-run agency to receive CAPRA accreditation By Brian Foley


ilwaukee (Wisconsin) Recreation’s affiliation with a public school district allows for a unique agency framework within the world of parks and recreation. As a department of Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), our agency uses school facilities to serve the entire community.

Chapter 509 of the Wisconsin Laws of 1911 gave public school systems in the state the ability to organize and conduct recreation programs for both children and adults in their community. The law recognized that recreation is an educational process and that both recreation and education are strong forces in total human development and the formation of a city’s culture. Our access to 146 school facilities allows us to direct resources into programming rather than toward brick-and-mortar infrastructure, thereby providing our community with the best possible value in recreation programming. In addition to the use of school facilities, we also program and maintain 52 outdoor recreation playfields throughout the city of Milwaukee. The process for the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) involves a formal application, selfassessments, a site visit by a team of trained individuals (independent of Milwaukee Recreation) that results in a written report, and a hearing with the commission to grant accreditation. Making a commitment to the CAPRA challenge should not be done lightly, as it requires the full dedication of your entire de-

partment. However, recognizing the process would provide Milwaukee Recreation with the opportunity to measure our operations against the industry standard made the decision to pursue CAPRA an obvious one. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, this year’s visitations were held virtually. After a highly-scrutinized review of Milwaukee Recreation’s operations and programming, CAPRA accreditation was granted, as the department demonstrated compliance with all 154 recognized standards. Preparing for the final CAPRA submission was a multi-year process led by a core team of 10 individuals. Additionally, two department staff members became CAPRA volunteers and participated in several agency visits, which proved extremely useful as we moved through the process. Finally, using PowerDMS software to organize our evidence was invaluable. After compiling and submitting the required evidence and completing the review process, Milwaukee Recreation became the first school district-run agency, and only the third agency in the state of Wisconsin, to earn accreditation through CAPRA. Several local media organizations have covered

Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Recreation became the first school district-run agency to earn CAPRA accreditation.

the news with stories and sit-down interviews, which can be found at “We are extremely honored to receive this prestigious accreditation,” says Lynn Greb, senior director of Milwaukee Recreation. “Our entire team remained committed to this effort from the beginning and has worked extremely hard to gather data, provide information and implement new strategies that ultimately allowed us to meet all the CAPRA standards necessary for accreditation. Thank you to the CAPRA commission and NRPA for this recognition, to our community for its continued support, and to our incredible staff that helped to make this accreditation possible.” The pursuit of accreditation provided an opportunity for self-reflection that will guide our operations and services into the future. Work already has begun to prepare for the reaccreditation process in five years and while the commitment is never-ending, it is highly worthwhile. Brian Foley is Supervisor of Marketing for Milwaukee Recreation (

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Parks & Recreation



Lessons Learned From Settlement Regarding Accessible Playground Surfacing By Antonio Malkusak, PLA, CPSI


hat is the best surfacing for playgrounds? This is one of the commonly asked questions that I and my fellow Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) training instructors get. Unfortunately, there is no one best answer. Many factors contribute to making the best selection for each situation, including cost (initial vs. long term), height of the equipment, installation, maintenance and accessibility. The more we know, the better decision we can make. In June 2020, the Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into a settlement agreement with the Iowa City (Iowa) Community School District (ICCSD). The issue centered around a complaint that claimed the surfacing system installed and maintained by the ICCSD did not meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A DOJ investigation revealed every ICCSD school did not satisfy the ADA requirements for their surface systems. DOJ found issues with both unitary — rubber tiles, pouredin-place (PIP) rubber, artificial turf — and loose-fill — engineered wood fiber (EWF). However, the settlement agreement clearly does not state any of these surface types are unacceptable for ADA compliance. To meet the requirements of the ADA standards, a surface system within the play area must be firm and stable. This means the surface system allows a user to propel themselves and be able to turn using the same amount of work as if they were propelling and turning themselves on a hard surface slope of 1:14 (or 7.1 percent). Another element of accessibility is remov-


Parks & Recreation

ing any barriers on the accessible route to, into and through a play area. A barrier is any abrupt change in elevation greater than half of an inch. There are several lessons from the DOJ Settlement Agreement with the ICCSD that can help us meet the ADA standard. EWF, rubber tiles, PIP rubber, rubber mulch and artificial turfgrass can be acceptable accessible surfaces. However, installation, regular inspections and frequent maintenance are key to sustaining the surfaces as accessible. The International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association Voice of Play has an excellent guide on best practices for installing and maintaining playground surfaces ( Perform your due diligence on design, specifications and installation for surface systems. Ensure the design intent is carried out through installation. Anticipate where issues can happen and be proactive through the entire process. It will be nearly impossible for one to sustain an ADA-compliant surface if the initial installation fails to meet the requirements. Train maintenance personnel

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how to sustain ADA compliance with the appropriate techniques and tools. Once a playground is opened and in use, inspecting and maintaining the surface system are vital to an ADA-compliant play area. Regularly inspect the play area to identify the surface depth, changes in condition and other potential issues. With loose-fill surfaces, check the transition areas, kick-out areas, and access and egress areas where surfacing can be easily displaced. For unitary surfaces, check for debris, loose objects and separation or seams splitting apart. Another piece of the training is communication. What is the process when something is damaged or needs attention? To sustain ADA-compliant surfacing, it is important to know who is responsible and what appropriate corrective action to take if an issue arises. Contact the manufacturer’s representative for best maintenance and repairs for their surfacing systems. Play-area owners should avoid making repairs or changes to the surface without consent from the manufacturers to safeguard from voiding the product warranty. With proper care and attention to the details, park and recreation agencies can bring out the best attributes in any accessible surfacing systems for their playground areas. Antonio Malkusak, PLA, CPSI, is President and Landscape Architect at Abundant Playscapes, Inc. (antonio@

Earn Recognition With an NRPA Award


ow through March 25, 2022, NRPA is accepting applications for its 2022 Awards Program. NRPA awards consists of the following: The National Gold Medal Awards, governed and administered by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with NRPA, honor park and recreation agencies throughout the United States and armed forces recreation programs worldwide that demonstrate excellence in delivering superb park and recreation services. The Innovation Awards showcase the inspiring work park and recreation agencies do to improve and empower their communities through innovative practices in

park design, health and wellness, conservation, and equity. The Spotlight Awards are presented to individuals to honor their efforts — both professional and personal — in the field of parks and recreation. Award winners include park and recreation professionals, volunteers, engaged community members and park advocates. Fellowships and Scholarships provide recipients with the opportunity to attend and explore the operation of the field at the NRPA Annual Conference. The Hall of Fame inducts individuals who have made extraordinary and lasting contributions to the advancement of the park and recreation movement. To learn more about NRPA

Taking the Mystery Out of the Awards Process What can you do to make sure your application stands out from the rest? How does the scoring process work? And, what are some pitfalls to avoid? In the webinar, “Taking the Mystery Out of the Innovation and Individual Awards Process,” representatives from the NRPA Awards and Scholarship Committee shed light on the awards application process. Learn more at tinyurl. com/4fce7jyv.

awards, scholarships and fellowships, visit

Member Benefit: Five Tips for Using NRPA Connect


RPA Connect (connect.nrpa. org/Home) is an online networking platform that makes it easy to communicate with an experienced network of more than 60,000 peers ready to share best practices. Here are five tips to get the most out of using Connect: • Update Your Email Preferences – In your Connect profile, under “Community Notifications,” you have the option to customize when you receive emails. You can choose different options for different communities. • Join a Network – Networks are member-exclusive communities.

With a diverse set of networks, you can engage with like-minded professionals who face the same challenges and opportunities as you do every day. Many have monthly phone calls and meet during the NRPA Annual Conference. • Favorite Resources – When you want to save a resource (e.g., request for proposal, job description, brochure design, etc.), you can click on the blue “Action” button and “Add to Favorites.” It will save the resource, so you always can refer back. • @Mentions – The @Mentions

feature allows community members to mention other users in various locations on NRPA Connect. @Mentions are a great way to invite specific individuals to join a conversation, provide recognition and call attention to specific resources. • NRPA Connect App – Now you can search resources, ask questions and browse discussions all from your phone. Search MemberCentric in the app store to download today!

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Parks & Recreation


RESEARCH Recruiting and Retaining Young Adults to the Park and Recreation Workforce By Kevin Roth


ast month, I wrote about the particularly acute labor shortage facing employers across the United States. As recently as October, employers reported having more than 11 million open positions. State and local governments were not immune, with nearly a half-million unfilled noneducation jobs. The difficulty in recruiting and retaining workers is not a new phenomenon. This is especially true for summer jobs that tend to attract teenagers and young adults. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a seasonally adjusted 5.369 million people ages 16 to 19 held a job this past July. The good news is that this essentially matched the number of employed young adults in July 2019. Less sanguine, however, is the fact that the number of working 16to 19-year-olds was down 26 percent from its summertime peak in 1999. The issue is not for a lack of available young adults. In fact, the number of people ages 16 to 19 increased by nearly four percentage points over the same 22 years. Rather, a smaller percentage of young adults are working. The employment-to-population ratio for young adults has plummeted

Parks and recreation is a major employer of youth.


Parks & Recreation

by 12 percentage points to 32.7 percent during the summer of 2021. Fewer teenagers and young adults are looking for jobs. The 16- to 19-year-old labor force, which consists of young adults currently working or actively seeking employment, has contracted by 29 percent from July 1999 to 5.938 million people last summer. But the past 21 years only tell a part of the story. The summertime 16- to 19-year-old labor force has declined by 35 percent since its 1978 peak of 9.749 million people. Over the same time span, young adults’ labor force participation rate has plummeted from 58.4 percent to 36.1 percent. Recently, there has been a rise in the youth labor force participation rate. The percentage of 16- to 19-year-olds seeking a summertime job bottomed out in 2015 at 33.7 percent and had rebounded to 36.7 percent in 2019. Greater youth participation in the labor market over the past year is a direct result of challenges many employers have had recruiting workers, as many people have been unable or unwilling to work as the pandemic waned. But do not expect to see the recent rise in youth workers to continue, as the fundamentals that resulted in far fewer teenager and young adults working have remained in place.

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A June 2021 Pew Research Center report ( identifies several factors for why fewer young adults seek summertime employment: • Shorter school summer breaks (with schools in many areas not breaking until mid- to late-June and others starting the school year before Labor Day) • Students taking high school or college classes during the summer break • Students volunteering in the community (often because of high school graduation requirements, a desire to boost a college admissions application or a desire for service) • Less availability of low-skill, entry-level jobs (especially officeand retail-based opportunities) A separate report from The Brookings Institution ( vv8srt2m) also finds school responsibilities crowding out the desire or ability of teenagers to seek work. Parks and recreation is a major employer of youth. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic data identify “arts, entertainment and recreation” as the third biggest summertime employer of 16- to 19-year-olds, behind only accommodation/food services and retail. Further, park and recreation agencies are a significant source of first-time jobs. To read the remainder of the article, visit Kevin Roth is NRPA’s Vice President of Research, Evaluation and Technology (


Gain Career Experience With Parks and Recreation


of U.S. adults say that teenagers and young adults benefit from their first jobs or volunteer experiences. Top benefits include:

Developing skills

Building confidence

Gaining valuable work experience Park and recreation departments provide many first-time job and volunteer opportunities for young adults.

Each month, through a poll of 1,000 U.S. residents focused on park and recreation issues, NRPA Park Pulse helps tell the park and recreation story. Questions span from the serious to the more lighthearted. The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (

Visit for more information.

FINANCE FOR FIELD FINANCE FORTHE THE FIELD Positioning Parkland Dedication Ordinances as a Central Element in Fiscally Conservative Fast-Growth Cities By John L. Crompton, Ph.D.


ince the advent of the “tax revolt” in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the dominant political philosophy in many U.S. communities has been “fiscal conservatism.” Operationally, it generally means elected officials will not support increases in taxation. Hence, a bedrock principle of fiscal conservatism should be the Benefit Principle, which states that those who benefit from government services should pay for them. If the Benefit Principle is not followed, then the alternatives are to raise taxes or lower the level of service, which results in a lower quality of life. The reluctance of elected officials to raise taxes means that the most likely outcome is to lower the standard of service. This result was documented in a study that a colleague and I recently published in the Journal of Park and Recreation Administration. It showed that over

a 12-year period, the level of park provision in 54 fast-growth cities in Texas declined with growth, and the greater the growth the larger the decline in level of park provision. Parkland dedication (which includes fees-in-lieu and park development fees) is a manifestation of the Benefit Principle. It can be conceptualized as a type of user fee because the intent is to pass the cost of accommodating increased

In fast-growth cities, parkland dedication provides local government-elected officials with at least a partial solution to their capital funding problems.


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demand for parks through to the landowners, developers and/or new homeowners who are responsible for creating the demand. It does not have a role in cities experiencing slow growth or declines in population, but in fast-growth cities it provides local government-elected officials with at least a partial solution to their capital funding problems.

Rationale for Implementing Parkland Dedication Growing awareness of the costs of growth; reduced availability of external funds from federal and state governments; caps that state governments have imposed on local jurisdictions’ spending; the growing strength of fiscal conservatism as a political imperative; an increase in costs caused by an increase in expectations of communities for higher quality standards in parks than was accepted in the 1970s (for example, ballfields marked on grass areas often are no longer acceptable, they now are groomed and manicured); and elected officials’ reluctance to support tax increases needed to retain the existing level of service for parks provision have resulted in recognition that in many contexts, parkland dedication represents the most palatable political option for funding new parks. In my September 2020 column (, I reviewed the results from 151 studies, which showed that in contrast to

farm/forest/open space uses and industrial/commercial uses that were “positive” taxpayers, residential developments were “negative” taxpayers because for every $1 million received in revenues from residential developments, the median amount communities expended to service them was $1,160,000. Since most residential development fails to pay, building more residential development inevitably leads to existing residents paying higher taxes. This relationship has been documented in multiple scientific studies (See Chapter 9 of The Impact on Property Values of Parks, Trails, Golf Courses, and Water Amenities by John L. Crompton and Sarah Nicholls). Given this reality, in most contexts, it appears difficult to justify requiring existing taxpayers to further subsidize new residents by subsidizing the capital cost of the new park facilities needed to service them.

Who Pays the Cost of Parkland Dedication? The dedication cost could be absorbed by the homeowner, the landowner and/or the developer. The development community often vigorously asserts that the cost will be borne by the new homeowner and suggests it will lead to some potential buyers being priced out of the market. In my city, the median price of a new home is approximately $400,000. If an additional (say) $4,000 parkland dedication fee is imposed and passed through to the homeowner, it would be a one percent increase in the median home price. If the ordinance is reviewed every four years, then the average price increase per year would be 0.25 percent. That is not likely to ad-

versely impact a purchase decision. Further, the contention that it will be passed forward to the homeowner fails to recognize the reality of market forces. Housing prices and developer costs are market determined. Since under most market conditions they are not pricesetters, home builders cannot simply add the cost to a home’s price. If the market would bear a price of $404,000 rather than a price of $400,000, then builders would charge that amount because their goal is to maximize profits. Hence, in many cases, the market price does not allow them to pass the new fees forward to the new homeowner. A second alternative is that the additional $4,000 per dwelling unit fee could be absorbed by the developer. This is not a viable option because a developer’s willingness to accept the financial risk associated with a project is predicated on a given projected profit margin. Without that profit margin, the project would not proceed, so it cannot be reduced. Third, the non-feasibility of the first two options means many times, the most viable option for absorbing the additional $4,000 dedication fee often is to reduce the developer’s costs. This can be done in one of three ways: Reduce the dwelling unit size. Instead of 2,000 square feet, it becomes 1,980 square feet (assuming a cost of $200 a square foot). The new homeowner would receive less quantity. Engage in “value engineering” to reduce the costs of finishes, fittings, furnishings or landscaping in the house by $4,000. The housing consumer would receive less physical quality per dollar. Pay less for the land. The imposition of a $4,000 parkland dedica-

tion fee effectively changes market forces and reduces the value of the land to be sold. This is explained in the following scenario: Suppose a developer intends to buy a piece of land when the city announces a $4,000 increase in the park dedication requirement. Before the increase, the developer intended to build 100 units on the land and sell them for $400,000 each. Based on the cost of construction and required profit, she was willing to pay $4 million for the land. As a result of the new ordinance, the builder recognizes she cannot sell them at $404,000. If she was able to get that price, then why did she not charge that price before the imposition of the fee? In fact, the market limits her to selling the houses for $400,000 each. As a result, she is willing to pay only $3.6 million for the land (100 units at $4,000, so she can reduce costs and maintain her profit margin). Thus, the cost of the dedication increase is shifted back to the owner of the land. Park and recreation department managers have three strategies they can use to optimize park dedication requirements in their community: (i) Follow the Supreme Court guidelines which establish the anchor around which the political debate will revolve; (ii) highlight the opportunity cost of “low-balling” dedication requirements; and (iii) use phasing, discounting and caps as “opt-outs” rather than “opt-ins” to minimize initial resistance. John L. Crompton, Ph.D., is a University Distinguished Professor, Regents Professor and Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University and an elected Councilmember for the City of College Station (

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In all his advocacy work, Judge John Sutter sought to improve access to parks, trails and open spaces for all.

One Leader’s Commitment to Equitable Access of the Bay Area Shoreline By Erich Pfuehler and Lisa Baldinger


s a kid, former East Bay Regional Park District Director Judge John Sutter flew model airplanes along the Oakland, California, shoreline. His childhood experiences led this dedicated Oaklander into a lifetime of staunch advocacy aimed at expanding public access to the shoreline. Nearly everywhere he went, he would declare: “There should be a park here!” With time, Sutter’s beloved shoreline became less and less accessible as development dominated the landscape. What began as a patchwork of docks, quays, wharves and beltline railways boomed into an international airport and other industrial sites. With the development of Interstate 880 in 1972, the City of Oakland and its residents became largely separated from their shoreline. By the early 2000s, there was only one location in Oakland where passengers on Bay Area


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Rapid Transit trains and those on the freeway could see the water and be reminded of natural shorelines close to home. This location along the Oakland-Alameda Estuary became a priority for the determined, now grown, Sutter. In all his advocacy work, Sutter, who passed away in May 2021, sought to improve access to parks, trails and open spaces for all. Equity was a critical pillar in his work. As a Superior Court Judge in Alameda County, California, for 14 years

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and at-large City Council member for 11 years, he believed firmly in fairness and inclusion. This drive for equitable access led Sutter to ensure the Oakland shoreline was preserved and forever accessible to the public. Sutter’s goals were complemented by the work of others. To increase public shoreline access, such as the OaklandAlameda Estuary location that inspired Sutter, the California Legislature adopted an aspirational law to create a 500-mile trail network around San Francisco Bay, known locally as the Bay Trail. Of this national model, some 350 miles are complete today and used regularly by commuters and recreationists alike. The remaining gaps, however, are the most

challenging and expensive. While active on the East Bay Regional Park District Board, Sutter convinced his colleagues to enter into a long-term lease agreement with the Port of Oakland to protect shoreline property for public access and Bay Trail connections. He even put his own money into the equation by donating $2 million to the Regional Parks Foundation (a nonprofit foundation that supports the park district) aimed at assisting in the acquisition of a critical piece of public shoreline property to close a Bay Trail gap. His generosity was inspiring. Once fully funded, the Oakland-Alameda Estuary location will include a 0.1-mile paved multi-use trail connection and park amenities to allow visitors to enjoy the water’s view. This new connection will allow trail users to relish their shoreline and offset carbon emissions through active transportation commuting to business and retail and enjoy healthful recreation close to home. The project also will reconnect the surrounding economically-challenged community with its shoreline. In Sutter’s legacy, the park district continues to pursue regional, state and federal grants to make his vision a reality — including as part of its Department of Transportation Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant application. The park district was honored to have such a humble, determined, intelligent person with equitable and fair judgement on its board for 20 years. We honor his legacy of equity by working to ensure the last place in Oakland to still see the Estuary and San Francisco Bay is accessible

for future generations of children and adults of all backgrounds to feel welcome and safe to fly model airplanes along the Oakland Shoreline for years to come.

Erich Pfuehler is Chief of Government and Legislative Affairs for East Bay Regional Park District (epfuehler@ Lisa Baldinger is Legislative and Policy Management Analyst for East Bay Regional Park District (baldinger@

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Starting a wellness movement at work not only supports the mental and physical health of staff, but also creates an opportunity to work together as a community.

Reshape Your Workplace: Starting a Wellness Movement Through Affirmation, Voice and Choice By Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH


arks and recreation are essential partners in advancing health equity through policy, systems and environmental change. The welcoming spaces that recreation centers and staff provide are critical community assets. Cultivating a recreation center that champions the holistic health of young people is directly connected to workplace wellness. Healthy employees are more productive, better able to manage stress, and more likely to model healthy behaviors. This cultural change begins with individual action steps we all can take together, and our own workplaces are a great place to start this incremental change. Following are three resources to start a wellness movement grounded in affirmation, voice and choice: Identity Mapping – One of the guiding principles outlined in Elevating Health Equity Through Parks and Recreation: A Framework for Action ( Equity) is “Focus on Learning.” This principle emphasizes a constant examination of self, systems


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and those around you. A simple activity to bring this principle to life is the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s (Healthier Generation) new “Identity Mapping” worksheet from our Kohl’s Healthy at Home resource collection (tinyurl. com/36r7mfts).

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As you use the worksheet to reflect on personal experiences, consider what parts of your identity (like talents or hobbies) could encourage workplace wellness. For example, my Healthier Generation teammate, Katie, recently started a monthly meet-up group where teammates do a virtual low-impact bodyweight (no equipment necessary) workout. She turned her passion for physical activity into a company-wide teambuilding activity. Consider how you might use identity mapping during a staff meeting to uncover similar staff wellness opportunities. Affirming Spaces – Creating a welcoming worksite is essential, especially for staff who identify as

LGBTQ+. Healthier Generation encourages folks to explore and share The Trevor Project’s LGBTQ & Gender-Affirming Spaces resources ( jc9). According to Keygan Miller, Healthier Generation’s advocacy manager at The Trevor Project, “Creating a space that is LGBTQ-affirming is not only the right thing to do, it also can significantly impact the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ young people. Compared to their peers, LGBTQ youth face increased risk for suicide largely because of increased experiences of bullying, rejection and discrimination. However, The Trevor Project’s research found that LGBTQ youth who reported having at least one LGBTQ-affirming space had 35 percent reduced odds of re-

port the past year. So, when we put in the work to make people feel accepted — whether it be at school, a recreation center or other community space — we are actually helping to save lives.” Staff Voice and Choice – Inclusion and accessibility is key. Another guiding principle outlined in NRPA’s Elevating Health Equity Through Parks and Recreation: A Framework for Action is “Reimagine Inclusion.” A part of this is considering the “how” of intentionally including all people in the “planning, designing and implementation of park spaces, programs and services.” Here are two easily adapted Healthier Generation resources that will help your park and recreation “work family” start a wellness movement by ensuring all

staff have a meaningful role: The Family Vision Board (tiny is a printable template that can help to craft team goals and a vision for worksite wellness. The Family Agreements (tinyurl. com/vbuuwux8) one-page worksheet can be used to decide on shared values, action steps and a sustainability plan. Starting a wellness movement at work not only supports the mental and physical health of staff (and their families), but also creates an opportunity to work together as a community — something park and recreation agencies are experts at. Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH, is Director of Community Partnerships at Alliance for a Healthier Generation (

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Girls playing sports attain higher levels of education, are healthier and earn higher wages as adults, compared to non-athlete peers.



Getting Girls and Women Into the Game for a Lifetime of Success By Kim Turner


ebruary 2, 2022 marks National Girls and Women in Sports Day — an ideal kick-off point for the 50th anniversary of Title IX on June 23, 2022, the federal law prohibiting gender discrimination in publicly-funded school and college sports programs. Title IX has opened athletics doors to millions of girls and women over the past five decades. Similarly, park and recreation agencies can work on and celebrate engaging girls and women in sports and physical activity during these events and each day of the year. Girls playing sports attain higher levels of education, are healthier mentally and physically, and even earn higher wages as adults, compared to non-athlete peers (tinyurl. com/2mehjh8v). Girls and women of color, in particular, experience big lifelong dividends from sports play, and yet too often have the least opportunity and equity in programming. Thus, focusing on engaging girls and women of col-


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or, especially in low-income areas, is key to ensuring everyone can get into and enjoy sports and physical activity for a lifetime. Here are nine ways your agency can instill gender equity in youth athletics during this Title IX anniversary: Ask girls what’s needed. Ask girls, their leagues, their families and their coaches what they would like to see in youth athletics. Sim-


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ple no-cost surveys and quick conversations with stakeholders can yield critical information, such as the sports girls want to play. Find out whether girls are getting to play what they like and getting equitable access to facilities and support. If not, adjust and equalize. Prioritize time and resources for equity. Ensure there is staff time and budget support to afford girls and their teams the facility space they need, coaches to anchor programs, and the publicity and promotion necessary to help spur equity. Sometimes, answers are simple, like more levels of an existing sport (for novices), a buddy registration system for girls wanting to know one teammate, or creative facilities sharing.



Recruit and retain supportive women coaches. Girls having a woman role model in a coaching and/or staff position is enormously powerful for making girls’ experiences positive and in helping ensure girls return for future seasons. Men who coach all-girls teams and/or girls in coed contexts also can be intentional and proactive about providing equal and inclusive sports environments. Coaching Corps and a number of nonprofit organizations, such as the Women’s Sports Foundation, have a wide range of free online, ondemand tools for recruiting, retaining and training coaches. Get the ball rolling! Examine gender equity in youth sports offerings in terms of actual participants. Count how many girls compared to boys (and all kids of any gender identity) are playing across department and third-party programs, such as Little League softball and baseball or American Youth Soccer Organization — enabled by public resources that should be available to all. If girls make up 50 percent of the youth community, yet girls are only a small fraction of the youth sports participants, that is core information to spur steps to make programs more equitable. Girls usually want to play sports in far greater numbers if programming is offered in an inclusive manner. Celebrate girls and women in sports. Celebrate girls and women in sports by having events for February’s National Girls and Women in Sports Day, the June Title IX anniversary, and at other points throughout the year. For example, have a Women’s World Cup (2023), Women’s National Basketball Association — or WNBA

Engaging girls and women of color, especially in lowincome areas, is key to ensuring everyone can get into and enjoy sports and physical activity for a lifetime.



— or women’s college team watch party. Feature local girl and women athletes in community newsletters and at events. Coordinate among institutions. Work with your local schools and districts to share space to ensure girls and their teams have the facilities they need to maintain and grow programs, and communicate regarding outreach (e.g., sharing fliers). Also, noting the popular sport offerings at local schools can help park and recreation departments determine their girls’ offerings, and vice versa. Build a culture of equity in youth sports. Assessing the existing youth sports culture to determine which kids and segments of the community are not present and connected is fundamental to making effective changes and sharing public resources. Make certain your user groups and staff are seeking to help all kids participate in youth athletics, regardless of gender identity, race, ability to pay and



experience level. Assess coed and add all-girls programs. Assess whether “coed” is working for girls and what changes might be useful. In many areas, departments are finding that at all ages girls often prefer an all-girls sport environment that helps girls engage and stay on teams. Follow best practices. Reach out to the numerous departments nationwide successfully expanding and equalizing youth athletics programming for girls for tips on how to launch all-girls teams and leagues. Review and adjust historical permitting practices, so new user groups (e.g., girls’ leagues) can access facilities. Make sure girls and their teams and leagues are welcome and centered in offerings.



Kim Turner is Gender Equity Initiative Director for Coaching Corps and is a lifelong athlete, youth coach and longtime nonprofit Title IX attorney (

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Not only do we need all levels of government in the conservation sphere to work together, but also we need all outdoor enthusiasts to work together to create the political will to support these agencies’ work.

Creating Partnerships for People and Wildlife Why park and wildlife agencies should collaborate By Naomi Edelson


ark and recreation professionals maintain 11 million acres of public parks and green spaces across the country, offering important conservation, recreation and education opportunities for people and wildlife. They are working to build a healthy, more resilient and more equitable future for generations to come, ensuring access and enjoyment to the great outdoors. State fish and wildlife agencies have similar conservation, recreation and education goals and are increasingly looking for strong collaborative partnerships to accomplish these goals and to increase engagement with broader audiences. Partnerships with local and regional parks can be a win-win for both entities.

Endangered Species State wildlife agencies are on the frontlines of America’s fish and wildlife conservation. They have a legacy of success in recovering many iconic wildlife species, especially game animals and sport fish. However, according to the 26

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Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ State Wildlife Action Plans (, more than 12,000 animal and plant species are in need of proactive conservation attention. Many of these species have lacked significant conservation attention over

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the past century. The number of petitions for listing under the Endangered Species Act has gone up by 1,000 percent in less than a decade. In addition, throughout the next 100 years, all fish and wildlife will be at increased risk due to habitat loss and degradation, the spread of invasive species, imperiled water quality and a rapidly changing climate. Our window to act is short before conservation becomes too costly or even impossible — akin to heading to the emergency room, rather than taking early preventative action. Already, more than 150 species have gone extinct and 500 additional species not seen in

decades may have vanished forever. Essential habitats that conserve the broadest array of species are experiencing stress at local, regional and global levels. We are truly in a wildlife crisis that is greatly being exacerbated by climate change. We need all levels of public and private entities to be working together. While several state wildlife agencies work with municipalities, such as Maine, New Hampshire and Texas (, most do not yet provide technical assistance to guide the emerging pollinator habitat and wildlife aspects of green infrastructure, including transportation, water and climate resiliency or open space. Texas serves as a model for hosting an urban biologist in all of its largest cities ( yanxvwh3). As our natural world shrinks, these urban and suburban areas offer the potential to restore wildlife habitat while reaching people where they live — these are the areas local and regional parks already are working in.

Pooling Resources In many cases, local and regional park systems currently manage or desire to manage plant and animal species for conservation. These imperiled species would benefit through sharing of monitoring and management expertise and resources. Furthermore, State Wildlife Action Plans require feedback from many, including local partners so that the needs of the entire conservation community are met. While there are examples of collaboration between such state and local entities, there are numerous opportunities for growth for both parties, and because the Recovering Amer-

ica’s Wildlife Act is making its way through Congress, we hope potential opportunities for collaboration through increased funding are in the future. Not only do we need all levels of government in the conservation sphere to be working together, but also we need all outdoor enthusiasts to work together to create the political will to support these agencies’ work. This means we need hunters, birders and gardeners alike motivated to work together to conserve wildlife and their habitats, unified by a common desire to enjoy the outdoors, hike, paddle, and to pass on a love of nature to youth. Local and regional parks provide critical close-to-home opportunities as well as reach audiences that are underserved in their typical outreach through recreation and education programs, whereas state wildlife agencies typically fall short in these areas, focusing primarily on rural audiences (e.g., hunters and anglers) that generally lack the range of the full diversity of the United States. The need to have these broadened and expanded recreation and education programs are important in every state. They will help meet the demands of rising numbers of gardening, birding, nature photography and other outdoor constituencies, while at the same time familiarizing and interpreting our natural world to an increasingly disconnected human population. Joint programs could include expanding access via trails, parking areas, more available and more safe land and water opportunities, enhancing wildlife viewing sites, skills training, and formal and informal education programs, like

As our natural world shrinks, urban and suburban areas offer the potential to restore wildlife habitat while reaching people where they live.

nature centers for urban, suburban and rural communities. Parks already provide these opportunities and can partner to specifically incorporate more wildlife-themed aspects. We don’t need to compete, but rather to join forces to reach even more people. The National Wildlife Federation sees the future state wildlife agency as one that expands the successful model of conservation for game species to all wildlife and expands wildlife-related outdoor recreation and education to all people. We have created a toolkit to help facilitate this work by external partners ( and hope you will join us in helping people and wildlife thrive in a rapidly change world. Naomi Edelson is Senior Director of Wildlife Partnerships at the National Wildlife Federation (

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In the case of P.M. v. City of Winfield, the Plaintiff brought a lawsuit alleging a violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Youth Baseball Disability Discrimination Claim By James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D.


any potential legal issues, including disability discrimination, can be mitigated or alleviated entirely through good public relations. In the case described herein, the federal district court found some evidence of discrimination on the basis of disability but denied the requested legal relief under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That being said, with 20/20 hindsight, one can certainly speculate that better communication and a spirit of accommodation may have promoted goodwill and avoided costly litigation. In the case of P.M. v. City of Winfield, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 205103 (N.D. Ala. 10/25/2021), Plaintiff P.M., a minor, brought a lawsuit through his mother, Karen Martine, against the Defendant City of Winfield, Alabama (the City), alleging a violation of Title II of the ADA. Plaintiff alleged her son’s full participation on Defendant’s youth baseball team


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had been denied on the basis of her son’s disability. In response, the City filed a motion for summary judgment with the federal district court, which, if granted, would effectively dismiss the lawsuit.

No Right-Hand Pitching Tryout The minor Plaintiff, P.M., has a right limb but no right hand. When he

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plays baseball, he switches his glove on and off his only hand, wearing his glove on his right limb while he throws with his left hand. In spring 2018, P.M. played on one of the City’s youth baseball teams for 9and 10-year-old boys, all of which are sponsored by the Winfield Park and Recreation Department (the Department). Neal Box acted as a volunteer coach for the team during the relevant time. On March 13, 2018, Box decided to try out nine players for the position of pitcher. P.M. was one of those players. While the other boys who received a tryout threw more than 10 pitches, P.M. threw around five or six. At the end of tryouts, Box informed P.M., as well as other

players, that he would not be selected as pitcher and instead be placed in the outfield. Karen Martine, P.M.’s mother, approached Box after learning her son was not selected as pitcher and asked Box to explain his choice. Box responded that if P.M. were pitching, he could not defend himself when a batter hits a “line drive” toward him. Karen Martine recorded the entire conversation. John Martine, P.M.’s father, subsequently purchased protective equipment for P.M. in response to the safety concerns expressed by Box. That same day, John Martine texted Box asking if P.M. could try out using the new safety equipment, and Box replied that he already had chosen who would be pitching for the season. On March 14, 2018, Karen Martine approached Gina Bryant, park and recreation director of Winfield Park and Recreation Department, to complain about Box’s discrimination against her son during the tryout for pitcher. In response, Bryant told Karen that she and Charlotte Beasley, park and recreation athletics director, would attend the team’s next practice. Bryant also informed the Park and Recreation Board (the Board) of the events, including that she would investigate and provide updates on the matter. Shortly before the next practice, Beasley and Bryant both talked to Box about the complaints against him. Explaining his rationale for not selecting P.M. as pitcher, Box said that P.M. was not selected because he could not consistently throw strikes and because he had trouble controlling his glove. This was not communicated to Karen nor John Martine. Beasley and

Bryant stayed after the conversation to watch the team’s practice. The next day, Karen and John Martine were given the opportunity to speak with both Beasley and Bryant in their office, where the Martines elaborated on their complaint regarding Box’s alleged discrimination. A few days later, on March 22, 2018, the Martines sent a letter, the audio file of Karen’s conversation with Box, text message screenshots, a receipt confirming the purchase of P.M.’s new protective gear, and videos of P.M. pitching to Park and Recreation Chairman Chris Carothers, as well as Beasley, Bryant and the Mayor of the City of Winfield, Randy Price. The Board met on March 26, 2018, to address the complaint, where Beasley and Bryant presented the information they gathered regarding Box’s conduct. The Board ultimately determined that P.M. had received a tryout and had been treated fairly by Box. P.M. proceeded to play for the remainder of the 2018 baseball season. However, P.M. did not play during the 2019 season and was no longer interested in playing baseball for the Winfield Park league.

Summary Judgments In this particular instance, the Defendant City made a motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff ’s claims under the ADA that had alleged the City denied P.M. “Equal Enjoyment of Activities and Services,” as well as the City’s “Failure to Make Reasonable Modifications and Auxiliary Aids.” As described by the federal district court, summary judgment in favor of the City would be appropriate if

the City could show there was “no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a).

Americans with Disabilities Act As cited by the federal district court, Title II of the ADA provides that “no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.” 42 U.S.C. § 12132. Further, to state a claim under Title II, the court noted a plaintiff must prove the following: (1) that he is a qualified individual with a disability; (2) that he was either excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of a public entity’s services, programs, or activities, or was otherwise discriminated against by the public entity; and (3) that the exclusion, denial of benefit, or discrimination was by reason of the plaintiff ’s disability.

Qualified Individual With a Disability Further, as cited by the court, under Title II of the ADA, a qualified individual with a disability is a person who has a qualified disability and who, “with or without reasonable modifications to rules, policies, or practices or the provision of auxiliary aids and services, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or the participation in programs or activities provided

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by a public entity.” 42 U.S.C. § 12131. In addition, the court noted that the regulatory definition of “disability” under the ADA is “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual,” including an “anatomical loss affecting one or more body systems, such as musculoskeletal.” 28 C.F.R. §§ 35.130(b)(1)(i); 35.130(b)(1)(i). According to the court, since P.M. has “only one hand,” there was no dispute that this impairment would qualify as having a “disability” under the ADA. Despite the undisputed nature of P.M.’s disability, Defendant City, however, had argued that P.M. must still “meet the essential eligibility requirements to participate as pitcher.” In response, Plaintiff contended that “P.M. meets the essential eligibility requirements under Title II simply because he met the eligibility requirements of Defendant’s baseball team during the relevant time.” The federal district court agreed that P.M. is “considered a qualified individual with a disability under Title II of the ADA” and “P.M. meets the essential eligibility requirements as required by the ADA.” In so doing, the court determined “the program in question is Defendant’s baseball team rather than the pitcher position, which is a benefit of membership on the team.”

Limited Participation Opportunities As cited by the federal district court, the ADA Title II implementing regulations also would require the City to provide an equal opportunity for qualified individuals 30

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with a disability to participate in their programs: A public entity may not afford a qualified individual with a disability an opportunity to participate in or benefit from the aid, benefit, or service that is not equal to that afforded others, nor can it limit such individuals “in the enjoyment of any right, privilege, advantage, or opportunity enjoyed by others receiving the aid, benefit, or service.” 28 C.F.R. §§ 35.130(b) (1)(ii); 35.130(b)(1)(vii). Moreover, the court acknowledged: “A qualified individual does not have to be completely prevented from enjoying a service, program, or activity by the public entity to establish exclusion from participation or denied benefits in violation of the ADA.” Accordingly, in this particular instance, the court noted P.M. “need not show that he was completely denied an opportunity to participate on the team.” On the contrary, the court found Plaintiff must simply show that “Defendant limited or excluded him from opportunities afforded to and enjoyed by others on the team.” In this case, Plaintiff had claimed Defendant City excluded P.M. from “the opportunity to try out for pitcher” by “denying him the same number of pitches as the other boys with two hands.” Defendant City had claimed “every player who tried out threw 15-20 pitches during the tryout.” Plaintiff, however, contended P.M. “was only allowed five or six pitches before being denied the pitcher position.” As a result, Plaintiff argued that Defendant’s motion for summary judgment should be denied because there was a genuine dispute

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as to whether P.M.’s “opportunity to try out for pitcher was limited regarding the number of pitches he was allowed to throw during his tryout.”

Reasonable Modifications While “Title II does not include statutory language regarding reasonable modifications,” to be considered “reasonable,” the federal district court noted “an accommodation must enable the qualified individual to perform the ‘essential functions’ of his position.” Moreover, the court found the following regulations were “imposed to avoid discrimination under Title II of the ADA”: A public entity shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures when the modifications are necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability, unless the public entity can demonstrate that making the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity. 28 C.F.R. § 35.130(b)(7). Further, in cases alleging a failure to make reasonable accommodations, the court noted “the defendant’s duty to provide a reasonable accommodation is not triggered until the plaintiff makes a ‘specific demand’ for an accommodation.” In this case, Defendant claimed “Plaintiff’s only request for modification was terminating Box from his position as volunteer coach for Defendant’s team.” Plaintiff, however, contended “the request for Box’s removal only came after denial of the initial request for reasonable modification”; i.e., allowing P.M. to try out using the safety

equipment purchased by his father. As a result, Plaintiff maintained Defendant had violated Title II of the ADA by “not allowing the use of reasonable modifications when they were made available to Box.” In response, Defendant disagreed that “allowing P.M. a second tryout with the pitching equipment would be reasonable,” because “a second tryout would not have been effective.” In so doing, Defendant relied on testimony that P.M. “was throwing with the same accuracy a few days later as he had during his tryout.” In the opinion of the federal district court, Plaintiff had “shown a genuine dispute as to whether Plaintiff ’s first request was reasonable and whether Defendant’s denial of said request is a violation under the ADA.” In particular, the court found there was “a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether he was excluded from full participation in Defendant’s program,” which would preclude granting Defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

Discrimination Based on Disability To prove a violation under Title II of the ADA, the federal district court acknowledged that “a qualified individual must prove that the alleged discrimination occurred ‘by reason of the individual’s disability.’” 42 U.S.C. § 12132. Further, in the analysis of alleged discrimination under the ADA, the court noted “the individual’s disability need not be the sole reason for the alleged discrimination but must be a factor that made a difference in the outcome.” In this particular instance, De-

fendant had claimed “the choice to not have Plaintiff play pitcher stemmed from Plaintiff ’s trouble with accurately throwing the ball.” In response, Plaintiff contended Coach Box, at least in part, did not choose P.M. for pitcher due to safety concerns stemming from him only having one hand. In the opinion of the court, based upon Box’s explanation to Karen Martine, it could be inferred that P.M.’s “need to put his glove back on after throwing a ball left him more vulnerable than other boys on the team and thus less likely to be chosen for pitcher.” Accordingly, the court determined a reasonable jury could find that P.M.’s disability served as the “but-for cause” (i.e., substantial determining factor) in his exclusion from the pitcher position. As a result, the federal district court concluded Defendant’s motion for summary judgment had “failed to meet their burden of showing no genuine dispute of material fact regarding whether Plaintiff, a qualified individual with a disability, was excluded from participation in and denied benefits of Defendant’s program by reasons of his disability.” Having found “a genuine dispute of material facts” existed regarding Plaintiff ’s claim of discrimination on the basis of disability in violation of the ADA, the federal district court had to then determine what, if any, legal relief was available to Plaintiff under the circumstances of this case, specifically, Plaintiff ’s request for an injunction and compensatory damages. An injunction would order the Defendant City to restrain from continuing to deprive P.M. from his legal rights under the

ADA. Compensatory damages would provide Plaintiff with a monetary award for any loss or injury sustained by P.M. as a result of disability discrimination in violation of the ADA.

Injunction As described by the court: “A plaintiff seeking injunctive relief must establish both a past injury and a sufficient likelihood of future injury because of the allegedly unlawful conduct.” Moreover, the court noted an injunction within the context of an ADA claim would require a plaintiff to “plausibly show that [they] will suffer disability discrimination by the defendant in the future.” In addition, the court acknowledged “the threat of future injury” shown by the plaintiff “must be ‘real and immediate, as opposed to merely conjectural or hypothetical.’” Based upon the following facts alleged in the complaint, the court found Plaintiff “has plainly failed to show a sufficient likelihood of future harm to entitle him to injunctive” relief: Plaintiff did not play baseball in the park league in 2019 and currently has expressed no interest in playing at any time in the future…. Plaintiff was no longer interested in playing baseball for the Winfield Park league or anywhere else until recently.... Plaintiff has received an invitation to try out for the pitcher position on a travel baseball team in Alabama and is actively preparing for the upcoming 2020 baseball season. Since “Plaintiff admits that he has no interest or intention in playing in Defendant’s baseball league at any time in the future,” the

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court found Plaintiff ’s complaint did “not suggest any real and imminent threat of future injury or disability discrimination that Plaintiff faces from Defendant.” As a result, the court concluded Plaintiff ’s complaint lacked “the required showing of a sufficient likelihood of future harm necessary for injunctive relief.” Moreover, the court found no factual allegations in Plaintiff ’s complaint showing any “continuing, present adverse effects from past discrimination.” Accordingly, the federal district court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff ’s request for an injunction.

Compensatory Damages As noted by the court: “To receive an award of damages, the plaintiff must prove that the entity he has sued engaged in intentional discrimination, which requires a showing of deliberate indifference.” The court defined “deliberate indifference” as follows: Deliberate indifference occurs when the defendant knew that harm to a federal protected right was substantially likely and failed to act on that likelihood. Deliberate indifference plainly requires more than gross negligence. Instead, this standard requires a deliberate choice. Moreover, “to hold a government entity liable” to pay monetary damages for violating Title II of the ADA, the court found the plaintiff must demonstrate the following: [A]n official who at a minimum has authority to address the alleged discrimination and to institute corrective measures on the entity’s behalf had actual knowledge of discrimination in the entity’s programs and failed adequately to respond. 32

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Deliberate Indifference? In this case, Plaintiff alleged Box had acted with deliberate indifference when he discriminated against P.M. by denying him “the opportunity to try out for the pitcher position solely because of his disability.” Assuming these allegations to be true, the court found “Box undoubtedly had knowledge of his own discriminatory actions.” In particular, the court noted Plaintiff ’s allegations that “Box made a conscious decision to stand behind his discriminatory acts because he continually and repeatedly excluded Plaintiff from the opportunity to try out for or practice in the pitcher position.” Moreover, the court found Box had refused to allow Plaintiff to participate after Plaintiff had acquired safety equipment to mitigate the risk and prove to Box that he could take part in a tryout. As a result, the court found Plaintiff ’s complaint had sufficiently alleged Box had “acted with deliberate indifference.”

Qualifying Official? In addition to deliberate indifference, the federal district court acknowledged governmental liability also would require a “qualifying official” to be necessarily “high enough up the chain of command that their acts constitute an official decision by the entity not to remedy the misconduct”: That individual must have substantial supervisory authority within an organization’s chain of command and complete discretion at a key decision point in the administrative process. A key decision point is a point in the administrative process where the decision is not ordinarily subject to

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a higher level of review. For purposes of governmental liability, under the circumstances of this particular case, the court determined that Box lacked the required “substantial supervisory authority” and “total discretion to make key decisions”: Box cannot qualify as an “official” because he lacked sufficient authority to establish liability on the part of Defendant. Simply put, a volunteer coach in a municipality’s parks and recreation youth baseball league is not high enough in the chain of command of the organization for his acts to be considered official actions on behalf of the organization. Because Box was an individual acting “as a mere representative under an entity’s supervision and control,” the court found Box “simply does not possess substantial supervisory authority, nor complete discretion at a key administrative decision point, sufficient to establish liability on behalf of the entity.” Lacking in any administrative authority, the court found Box had “merely made the initial decision to deny Plaintiff a benefit of the baseball program.” As a result, the federal district court held Box “did not qualify as an ‘official’ for the purpose of determining whether Defendant acted with deliberate indifference.”

Failure to Act? The court, however, noted that Plaintiff had named other “agents in the complaint, Beasley, Bryant, Carothers, and Price,” who could “qualify as officials” for the purpose of determining whether Plaintiff may recover compensatory damages. The issue before the court was, therefore, “whether any of the qualified agents acted with

deliberate indifference.” As described by the court, “Plaintiff ’s parents notified the qualified agents of their discrimination claims either through an in-person meeting or through mail and email correspondence, proving that the agents knew of the alleged discrimination.” Accordingly, in determining deliberate indifference, the court had to determine “whether any of the named agents failed to act on this information.” Plaintiff had argued “Beasley, Bryant, and Carothers did not do enough when investigating the complaint from Karen and John,” and thus “the administrative methods and responses from each agent constitute a failure to act.” The federal district court disagreed. In the

opinion of the court, “the qualified agents did not fail to act on Plaintiff ’s complaints.” In particular, the court found “the Board, including Beasley, Bryant, and Carothers, took several steps in response to the complaints from Karen and John”: Beasley and Bryant both met with Box and the Martines about the complaint and subsequently attended a team practice. The Board held several meetings where the complaint regarding Box was specifically addressed and investigated. Moreover, in determining deliberate indifference, the federal district court found “actions and decisions by officials that are merely inept, erroneous, ineffective, or negligent” are “not sufficient to show a failure to act.”

In the absence of deliberate indifference on the part of any qualifying official under the circumstances of this case, the court concluded Plaintiff had failed to show Defendant City of Winfield had engaged in intentional discrimination. As a result, the court held “Plaintiff is not entitled to compensatory damages.” In the absence of any available legal relief for the alleged violation of Title II of the ADA in this particular case, the federal district court granted the City’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed Plaintiff ’s lawsuit. James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D., is an Attorney and Associate Professor in the School of Sport, Recreation and Tourism Management at George Mason University (jkozlows@gmu. edu). Law review articles archive (1982 to present):

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FOR 2022 Parks & Recreation magazine and NRPA’s Young Professional Network present the second annual program honoring 30 of the top young park and recreation professionals in the field By Michael Biedenstein, CPRP, AFO


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nce again, NRPA’s Young Professional Network (YPN) and Parks & Recreation magazine are excited to present our “30 Under 30.” This recognition program is a joint effort by the YPN and this publication to recognize 30 of the top young professionals whose work and contributions have made a lasting difference in their communities. More than 100 nominations were received, forming a diverse group of nominees from 27 different states. The scoring committee evaluated the nominations on one or more of the following criteria: • Impact on the agency’s community and service population • Contributions to the professional development of the field of parks and recreation • Innovative ideas, programs or research in the field of parks and recreation

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Following are the profiles of this year’s outstanding Parks & Recreation 30 Under 30 winners. From varying backgrounds and with varying specializations, these exceptional individuals have each had profound impacts in their own way. Their stories are full of inspiration, ingenuity, talent and passion.

Thank You to Our 30 Under 30 Scoring Committee Chris Bass, CPRP Douglasville Parks and Recreation (GA)

Augustus Hallmon, Ph.D., CPRP James Madison University (VA)

Neelay Bhatt PROS Consulting, Inc.

Roslyn Johnson, CPRP Recreation and Parks at Baltimore County (MD)

Chamreece Diggs, CPRP City of Greensboro (NC) Ryan Eaker City of Austin Parks and Recreation (TX)

Cameron Levis, CPRE, AFO City of Bowling Green (KY)

Angel Obert, CPRP, AFO Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City (KS) Lisa Paradis, CPRP BerryDunn Paula Sliefert The Toro Company

Ronnetta Spalding Indy Parks and Recreation (IN) Anne-Marie Spencer PlayCore John Stutzman, CPRP City of Golden Valley (MN) Kimberly Zygmant, CPRE, AFO City of Victoria (TX)

Brandon Altenburg, 29

Grant and Special Project Administrator, Wheat Ridge Parks and Recreation (CO)

As grant and special project administrator, Brandon Altenburg not only secured more than $908,000 in revenues, discounts and supplies in 2020, but also his efforts resulted in improved programs and opportunities for members of Colorado’s Wheat Ridge community. His work led to improved playground facilities, greater trail access, enhanced outdoor health and wellness opportunities for individuals of all ages and abilities, emerald ash borer mitigation within the city’s tree canopy and more. In 2021, he guided the department though the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) reaccreditation process, from start to finish, and took on a leadership role within the department’s service sustainability process.

Robert Basford, 29

Director of Parks and Recreation, City of Jersey Village (TX)

Since joining the City of Jersey Village, Texas, as parks and recreation director, Robert Basford has made great strides in transforming the department with his innovative ideas and implementation of new programs. Basford has been instrumental in creating city-organized athletic leagues for residents, including adult kickball and volleyball leagues. He also has worked hard to supplement the department budget with grants, utilizing grant funds to improve parks and facilities. Under his leadership, the department has secured sponsorships for many events, creating opportunities that lower the cost of events for the city and bring about great visibility for the businesses. He also is a part of the emergency management team, preparing the city for hurricanes and natural disasters. This includes meal planning, purchasing food and overseeing staff wellness during an emergency.

Megan Carter, 27

Outdoor Recreation Supervisor, Mountain Recreation (CO)

Megan Carter, Mountain Recreation’s (Colorado) outdoor recreation supervisor, keeps access and equity at the forefront of her work. Carter, who identifies as a queer female and an LGBTQ+ advocate, has taken a lead role in the agency’s diversity, equity and inclusion work and providing community members with equal access to the outdoors. Her mobile gear library project focuses on bringing education, gear, access and equality to the community. To Carter, the project is about helping others experience the health benefits of the outdoors, building relationships with others, and teaching the next generation to love and appreciate the vast wilderness.

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Maria Cepeda, 26

Senior Recreation Specialist, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation (NC)

Maria Cepeda demonstrates innovative program design and implementation, and provides exemplary diverse communication to Mecklenburg County’s (North Carolina) historically underserved Eastway community. She serves as project lead for summer camps, manages child watch facilities, engages preschool populations and more. While Cepeda is bilingual in English and Spanish, her communication with historically underserved Latinx populations does not end there. She is fluent in working with individuals with disabilities and frequently administers therapeutic modification plans. Cepeda is a certified interpretive guide through the National Association for Interpretation. She also is a highly sought-after member for departmental workgroups focused on reaching members in the most underserved communities.

Matt Colwell, 23

Sports and Aquatics Specialist, City of New Brighton (MN)

Matt Colwell began working for the City of New Brighton, Minnesota, as a temporary staffer in the agency’s Mission Possible program. This new program offered students, whose guardians couldn’t work from home during the pandemic, a place to do online learning while their caretakers were away. His impressive work earned him an internship, which led to a full-time position as sports and aquatics specialist. He brings a specialness to programs, takes on everything that is thrown at him, asks for extra opportunities to learn and seeks growth opportunities. Colwell will serve as chair for Minnesota’s Young Professional and Student Network.

Colleen Coyne, 29

Emily Croke, 28

In 2020, Colleen Coyne was part of founding the KABOOM! inaugural Measurement and Evaluation team. In this role, she led efforts to revolutionize KABOOM!’s data approach — from supporting the development of new organizational impact outcomes to mapping access and quality of playspaces across the country. For example, she created the KABOOM! Playspace Priority Assessment via the mySidewalk platform. This assessment helps communities identify areas of potential need for playspace investment based on the intersections where large populations of kids; Black, Indigenous and people of color; and low-income people live. It drives resources to areas historically most likely to experience disinvestment.

In June 2019, at age 25, Emily Croke became the Springfield Township (Pennsylvania) director of parks and recreation. Croke sought to revitalize the community by establishing open communication with local sport, civic and volunteer organizations to assess the needs of residents. Croke began planning for future capital improvements to provide equal access to park and recreation facilities, which became critical to the community during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While focusing on providing inclusive play structures, she increased play areas for patrons of all ages that promote inclusiveness and diversity to accommodate different physical needs, intellectual abilities and social skills.

Senior Analyst, KABOOM! (MD)


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Director of Parks and Recreation, Springfield Township, Montgomery County (PA)

Caralie Fennessey, 30

Operations/Communications Director, Endless Highway, Inc. (NY)

With a master’s degree in integrative design and as operations/communications director at nonprofit Endless Highway, Inc., Caralie Fennessey, CTRS, is changing the landscape of accessible recreation across the Greater Rochester Region (New York) from infrastructure to culture to community. Fennessey has expanded inclusive recreation programming for youth with and without physical disabilities to increase parallel play; more than doubled the organization’s budget to provide direct financial support and recreational equipment sponsorship for disabled youth through grant writing; and leveraged her knowledge and certification in inclusive design solutions to improve built environments and disability awareness in the context of recreation.

Nathan Fort, 27

Parks and Recreation Director, City of Dayton (TN)

Nathan Fort is the youngest parks and recreation director in Tennessee. Fort is bringing increased diversity and inclusion policies and procedures for the city as an “out” gay parks and recreation director. He also has created new initiatives with different community organizations and other community members for them to become more involved in the park and recreation department. What’s more, he established the largest doubles pickleball tournament in the state. Fort continues to contribute diversity and inclusion programming with language and mental healthbased programming, such as his September Suicide Prevention Words of Encouragement Wall and American Sign Language classes.

Gabe Hackney, 28

Facility Manager, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation (NC)

Casey Grice, 25

Recreation Assistant, City of Colorado Springs (CO)

As the recreation assistant with the City of Colorado Springs’ (Colorado) Therapeutic Recreation Program (TRP), Casey Grice is a professional who sees a need and takes action. In 2021, Grice observed that many TRP participants had declined in health. He saw the need for further exercise-based programs due to this decline. Thus, Grice created a partnership with the City of Colorado Springs’ sports program and introduced the TRP participants to Boxercise. He brought life to this new program and to a facility that often is overlooked and underutilized. Boxercise started as one session and has now expanded into two multi-week sessions.

Gabe Hackney serves as facility manager of Tom Sykes Recreation Center in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. This center is among the city’s smaller complexes, but yields the largest participation in summer camp, after-school and school-age programs. The facility is popular because of Hackney. He is currently the lead facilitator for a cycling initiative in Mecklenburg County, called Learn to Ride. It focuses on teaching people proper techniques to learn how to ride a bike. Hackney has implemented hundreds of private bike lessons to community members. Whenever people in Mecklenburg County inquire about bike lessons to the department and local nonprofits, they contact him.

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Kori Jones, 30

Recreation Supervisor, Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks (MD)

Kori Jones serves as a recreation supervisor II with Howard County, Maryland’s Department of Recreation and Parks. Jones helped create Rec Zone, a program for families who needed assistance with childcare during virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also worked with schools to hold listening sessions to create a sense of belonging for staff and students, including conversations around identity and what an inclusive building looks like. Jones also leads the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and committee for the department. What’s more, the Maryland Recreation and Parks Association chose Jones for the volunteer position of equity officer.

Joy Kacoroski, 30

Interpretive Specialist 2, Washington State Parks and Recreation (WA)

Amy Jean-Baptiste, 30 Assistant Director, City of Sunrise (FL)

Amy Jean-Baptiste began as assistant director of leisure services for the City of Sunrise, Florida, in August 2021. The Leisure Services Department includes more than 320 fulltime, part-time and seasonal employees serving approximately 100,000 Sunrise residents. JeanBaptiste not only was tasked with quickly learning a new large-scale operation, but also had to do it in a telecommuting environment, due to the pandemic, with out-of-the-ordinary facility and programming operations. She quickly took on two longstanding incomplete projects and successfully implemented programs for both park instructors and field rentals — both programs had a great impact on the Sunrise community.


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Joy Kacoroski, interpretive specialist 2 for Washington State’s Deception Pass State Park (DPSP), has made a significant impact toward the development of DPSP’s environmental education program. Kacoroski ensured the curriculum, pre-testing and post-testing were consistent with science and technology standards. As the pandemic began, Kacoroski was among the leaders who quickly adapted to multiple platforms that would support virtual learning. Kacoroski also was responsible for collaborating with the Samish Tribe and Swinomish Tribe as Kacoroski developed a Junior Ranger book specific to DPSP. Kacoroski also partnered with the Samish Tribe on interpretive panels for the tribe’s story pole, Ko-Kwal-A-Woot.

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Sarah Kent, 30

Outreach Manager, Great Parks of Hamilton County (OH)

Sarah Kent’s role as outreach manager for Great Parks of Hamilton County, Ohio, started when she was hired to open a new nature center. The center’s location is in a food, recreation and nature desert. Nature Center at The Summit allows Hamilton County’s Roselawn residents walkable access to explore nature. Starting from an abandoned room, Kent organized and created the center. She fashioned space for local teens to come, sit and do homework or read from a nature library. Kent also set up a crafting and discovery area for younger learners and designed an animal engagement area for all visitors to enjoy.

Kimberly Krieger, 25

Graphic Designer, Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department (FL)

Kimberly Krieger joined Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department in Florida, first as an intern and then as a graphic designer for its outreach and marketing team. Her ability to communicate in Spanish combined with her passion to enrich the lives of others allowed the department to expand its outreach efforts to include the growing number of Spanish-speaking communities through participation in health and wellness fairs and community engagement events in multicultural neighborhoods. Her passion for improving her community also is evident in the way she communicates the benefits of parks and recreation through her graphic design work.

Andrew J. Lopez, 29

Parks and Recreation Supervisor, City of Hialeah (FL)

As the parks and recreation supervisor for the City of Hialeah Department of Parks and Recreation in Florida, Andrew J. Lopez oversees all aquatics facilities. The biggest challenge he faced early on in his role was a shortage of lifeguards. With applications slowly coming in, Lopez created a program where patrons could obtain lifeguard and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)/automated external defibrillator (AED) certifications through the city for free or at a low cost. Also, applicants had the opportunity to be hired by the city (seasonal/permanent). The program proved successful, as Lopez hired more than 10 lifeguards to reopen the water park facility to an eager public.

Christiana Marasa, 24

Recreation Aide – Fitness, City of Port St. Lucie Parks and Recreation Department (FL)

As a key member of the Port St. Lucie Parks and Recreation Department (PSLPRD) in Florida, Christiana Marasa is a testament to commitment, dedication and innovative leadership. In her role for the department, Marasa works in two city fitness centers, leading fitness classes and working with a diverse membership, providing personal training, instruction and more. Her impact on the community is demonstrated through her focus on innovative research in the field of parks and recreation. Marasa specifically focuses on research connecting neuroscience through fitness. She has risen quickly as a major contributor to the life-altering programs and services that PSLPRD offers.

Chasity McCurdy, 29

Assistant Recreation and Parks Superintendent, Greenville Recreation and Parks (NC)

Chasity McCurdy began her career as a recreation assistant for specialized recreation with the City of Greenville Recreation and Parks in North Carolina. As an assistant, she planned and implemented programs for individuals with special needs. McCurdy also worked with nonprofits, such as Easter Seals, to secure funds for the department’s inclusion program and adapted programming. Acquiring these funds broke down barriers for individuals who otherwise would not have been able to participate in recreational programs. After proving her leadership and initiative, McCurdy was promoted to recreation supervisor for specialized recreation, creating standards and best practices for inclusion services.

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Ashton Miller, 27

Recreation Coordinator, Borough of Quakertown (PA)

As recreation coordinator for Borough of Quakertown, Pennsylvania, Ashton Miller has innovatively established the Parks and Recreation Department within the community. The department, which previously had limited programming and events, now encompasses more than 29 programs and events. Miller uses her hometown knowledge to draw community engagement and improve community access. Among her biggest accomplishments has been community engagement. She helped establish the Sounds of Summer Concert Series. From 2020 to 2021, Miller secured talent for the concert series, including The Beach Boys, Marshall Tucker Band and Chris Janson. The series generated more than $500,000 in revenue and attracted more than 10,000 attendees.

Bertrand Oubida, 29

Recreation Leader, City of Stamford Recreation Services (CT)

When Bertrand Oubida became recreation leader for City of Stamford Recreation Services in Connecticut, he helped take the position to a new level. In fact, he was promoted into the role from aquatics director partly because he revamped the aquatics department from a program that made $25,000 in 2015, to $42,000 the year after Oubida took over. Today, as recreation leader, Oubida and this team have grown the program to a point where the city has allowed the department to lease a building where they could hold most of their programs and avoid passing on high program fees to patrons.

Cassandra Paddock, 27

Recreation Programs Supervisor, City of New Braunfels Parks and Recreation Department (TX)

According to Cassandra Paddock, recreation programs supervisor for City of New Braunfels Parks and Recreation Department in Texas, summer camp for 120 kids generally sells out quickly and has more than 150 on the waitlist by the end of the first day of registration. She recognized the city’s lack of available and affordable day-camp options for working families. However, through persistence in the budgeting process year after year, Paddock was approved to start a second summer camp for the city, providing that extra childcare resource and recreational opportunity for an additional 75 to 120 campers per week.

Josue Pasillas, 26

Communications Supervisor, Waukegan Park District (IL)

Josue Pasillas, MPA, is communications supervisor for Illinois’ Waukegan Park District, where he oversees all digital marketing efforts in English and Spanish. Pasillas has been an integral part of the development of innovative communications strategies to make content available in Spanish and increase access for the community, which is primarily Latinx. With the park district’s board of commissioners, he launched “Park Happenings,” a bilingual video series reaching thousands of viewers with the latest news, programs and events offered to the community. Pasillas also translated the Waukegan Park District’s first bilingual program guide, which is the first of its kind in the state.


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John Penn, 27

Athletic Program Manager, City of Douglasville Parks and Recreation (GA)

As the athletic program manager for the City of Douglasville, Georgia, John Penn strives toward offering more inclusive and equitable programs to the community. He’s handled individual athletic breakout camps, such as basketball, to help promote the city’s inaugural youth basketball season this winter; youth volleyball to encourage youth girls’ participation in sports that Penn knew the city lacked; and all-sport camps for different age groups to introduce youth to untraditional sports, such as badminton and pickleball. He believes in identifying the needs of the community and mapping out innovative avenues to ensure equitable programs and community awareness.

Gillian Rossi, 30

Park Ranger Supervisor, City of Colorado Springs (CO)

Since becoming park ranger supervisor at Colorado Springs (Colorado) Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, Gillian Rossi has guided the management of its open space properties, won statewide and national recognition for programs she has nurtured, and implemented systemwide Leave No Trace (LNT) principles. Rossi established LNT goals for the Regional Parks, Trails and Open Space division, including having all properties designated as LNT gold-standard sites. Colorado Springs became the first park system in the country with all full-time staff trained as LNT trainers and aims to establish an accredited LNT youth program.

Rosie Santos, 30

Patience Talley, 28

Over the past six years, Rosie Santos has led organizational strategy, project management, planning, development and fundraising for prominent park agencies in Ohio and Northern Kentucky. She has successfully fused agency goals with social justice principles to create responsive action plans in politically complex environments. At City of Covington, Kentucky, Santos was responsible for 30 parks and facilities. To equitably distribute resources, she designed a transparent process to expedite capital development. Utilizing a community engagement framework, she designed and constructed three $80,000+ park redevelopments. Santos has engaged in fundraising to address critical funding gaps, totaling $350,000 over five years.

Patience Talley, director of community centers and programs for City of Monroe, Louisiana, works to provide quality resources in poverty-stricken areas, focuses on community health and well-being, and shines a light on the park and recreation field. During the wavering spike of COVID-19, Talley took the initiative to reach out to local healthcare institutions to host citywide COVID-19 vaccination sites at community centers located in areas that have little-to-no resources or access to healthcare providers. The vaccinations reached more than 200 citizens of Monroe. In addition, during a significant snowstorm in February 2021, she did not hesitate to open community centers as safe havens for the homeless population.

Conservation and Parks Manager, Great Parks of Hamilton County (OH)

Director of Community Centers and Programs, City of Monroe (LA)

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Austin Tasler, 29

Park and Recreation Supervisor – Aquatics, City of Des Moines (IA)

To provide aquatics programs and services to the Des Moines, Iowa, community during the pandemic in 2020, Austin Tasler, park and recreation supervisor – aquatics for the City of Des Moines, developed a new plan that kept patrons and staff safe and healthy. He worked with the agency’s internal COVID-19 team and created the Return to Play plan, which outlined new guidelines and procedures for COVID-19 scenarios and how to handle them, internally and externally. The City of Des Moines was honored recently for these efforts by earning an award for its Coronavirus Response Plan by Aquatics International.

Hashim Taylor, 28

Recreation Program Manager, Prince William County Parks, Recreation and Tourism (VA)

Hashim Taylor, recreation program manager for Prince William County Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism in Virginia, was instrumental in developing innovative program offerings for youth — streamlining effective processes for equitable access to services and developing a strategic professional development plan for more than 275 full- and part-time employees. During the pandemic, he ensured compliance with Virginia’s licensing process and requirements, which includes records management and audit action plans for five preschool locations. Additionally, he served as system administrator overseeing recreation cost-recovery implementation, where cost-recovery rates improved from 84 percent to 115 percent, and a budget that surpasses $8 million.

Victoria Ward, 27

Recreation Supervisor, Morehead City Parks and Recreation (NC)

As recreation supervisor at Morehead City Parks and Recreation in North Carolina, Victoria Ward takes challenges and makes new and exciting programs out of them. When COVID-19 struck the community, Ward developed a virtual recreation project offering daily activities, such as Barre fitness, science experiments, sports activities, cooking classes, crafts for children and adults, and beyond. Each video was featured on Facebook live and Instagram and ranged from one to 30 minutes. With thousands of views per video, the community was clearly impacted in a good way. This program was featured in North Carolina Recreation and Park Association’s RECRE8 magazine.

To hear more from 30 Under 30 winners Rosie Santos and Hashim Taylor, tune in to the February bonus episode of Open Space Radio at February2022BonusEpisode.


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Michael Biedenstein, CPRP, AFO, is NRPA’s Volunteer and Awards Manager (mbiedenstein@

Because one size doesn’t fit all, NRPA offers many ways to support the field of parks and recreation.

Choose the one(s) that best suits your situation: Online Giving is an easy click away. Monthly Giving enables you to be an anchor for NRPA during these times of volatility. Tribute Gifts honor someone special or celebrate an important occasion. Gifts of Appreciated Stock allow you to save on taxes while supporting parks and recreation. Gifts Through a Donor-Advised Fund are a great way to see the impact of your gift right away. Gifts from Your IRA may be a great way to avoid taxes on your withdrawal and meet your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD).

Give Today

The Perfect Moment: The Academy, Allyship, Awareness and Advancement The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee aims to create allies and promote diversity By Tracey Crawford, CTRS, CPRP, and Roslyn Johnson, CPRP


he American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (the Academy) has been in existence since 1980 and has the history of developing programs and services that encourage excellence in park and recreation administration. The Academy’s focus is to inspire and strive to advance public park and recreation administration through the support and guidance of the top 25 educators and 125 practitioners from across the United States. For years, the Academy has been striving to become more inclusive in its membership and ultimately diversify the profession of parks and recreation. A crucial moment arose in 2020 — Michael McCarty became the president of the Academy, Autumn Saxton-Ross was named vice president of education and the first chief equity officer


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for NRPA, and the world became transfixed with the tragic murder of George Floyd and the events after that left many feeling helpless and hopeless. “The Academy is responsible for inspiring, influencing and advancing the profession. We were living the issues that were caused by the pandemic and the nationwide unrest…

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everything is local, real change starts locally, but you need to connect nationally. If we are going to make change, what better organization than the Academy to do so?” says McCarty. “However, a disconnect remains between local/national efforts and what actually gets done. Clearly, we needed a different approach, different tools and a different conversation. I wanted to bring about real change, and that is why I created the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Task Force. I was prepared to leverage my relationships and become a true ally to get this done! It is important to me on a personal and professional level.”

A true ally will advocate by lifting others up, will share growth opportunities equitably, will recognize systematic inequalities, will realize the impact of micro-aggressions and unconscious bias, and, most importantly, will listen, support, self-reflect and change first on a personal level, and then as a professional.

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The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee Co-Chairs • Tracey Crawford, CTRS, CPRP • Roslyn Johnson, CPRP Members • Jane H. Adams • Stacie Anaya • Becky Benna • Bob Bierscheid • Sue Black • Alicia Bradford • Kelly Bricker • Bo Carlson • Michael Clark • Darrell R. Crittendon • Joe DeLuce • Chris Dropinski • Myron Floyd • Bill Foelsch • Seve Ghose • Sean Johnson • Deb Jordan • Jean Keller • Michael Kies • Michael McCarty • John McGovern • Carolyn McKnight-Fredd • Jayne Miller • Ellen O’Sullivan • Greg Petry • Terry Rynard • Ingrid Schneider • Tom Shuster • Cindie Sullivan • Lakita Watson • Cindi Wight • Dr. James Worsley 46

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What Makes an Ally? According to the NRPA Equity Language Guide ( LanguageGuide), the definition of an ally is someone who makes the commitment and effort to recognize their privilege (based on gender, class, race, sexual identity, etc.) and works in solidarity with oppressed groups to elevate these other voices, above their own, in the struggle for justice. When you are an ally, your words and actions are in-sync. A true ally will advocate by lifting others up, will share growth opportunities equitably, will recognize systematic inequalities, will realize the impact of micro-aggressions and unconscious bias, and, most importantly, will listen, support, self-reflect and change first on a personal level, and then as a professional. “My ‘ah-ha’ moment came when I participated in a discussion about vocabulary audits, and I realized I was using phrases that I thought were innocuous but in reality were highly offensive to others,” says Jane H. Adams, executive director at the Academy. “It was at that moment that I realized that any work we do has to start first within us as individuals.” An ally makes a continual investment of their time in having those brave conversations, supporting others, holding themselves accountable when mistakes are made, apologizing and making the effort to educate themselves to better understand the alternative perspectives. A true ally will listen to those around them, adapt their thinking, rework what they believe to be correct and get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Creating the JEDI Committee In 2020, the JEDI Task Force was

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formed and co-chaired by Tracey Crawford and Roslyn Johnson, and consisted of an additional 32 Academy members. The mission was set out with McCarty’s objective: to create allies, to make an impactful difference in our profession and to start the conversation about the importance of diversity in our profession. The task force, now an official committee, developed the following purpose statement to guide the work of the Academy: The Academy is committed to a culture of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in the profession of parks and recreation. There is no doubt that bias, whether implicit or unconscious, prejudice and discrimination on the basis of human characteristics harms society and are barriers in our profession. Eliminating these barriers requires deliberate and intentional efforts by all of us, especially Academy members who serve as leaders in the field of parks and recreation. Together we must all strive to justly provide equitable parks, recreation, therapeutic recreation, and nature-based opportunities that are essential to the quality of life. The purpose of the JEDI Task Force is twofold. First, with our Members and our continued efforts to become more inclusive, we will look within, at our governance infrastructure, policies and procedures, leadership, and membership, to identify and eliminate discrimination and bias, while promoting and celebrating diversity without division. Second, we will support the profession externally, through the provision of tools and strategies to provide just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive opportunities for all. “This is difficult work and will take a team to accomplish, but ultimately every individual in the com-

munity, no matter [their] position, has the power to effect change in a transformational way,” says Bill Foelsch, 2021-2022 president of the Academy. Each member of the Academy will be asked to take the pledge to be R.E.A.L.: • Reveal relevant opportunities. Gain awareness of the types of diversity within and across groups, and the context in which diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) play out across organizations as a whole. • Elevate equity. Acknowledge societal inequities and recognize that, unintentionally, their organization isn’t a level playing field; set clear goals toward greater equity, and then act. • Activate diversity. Recognize and engage differences within the organization and membership. Explore the impact of diversity on perspectives, assumptions and approaches, and identify ways to enhance the contributions of all. • Lead inclusively. Foster active, intentional and ongoing efforts to promote the full participation and sense of belonging of everyone. Beyond policies and practices, this includes the ability to envision and enact inclusive ways of leading. The JEDI Committee presented a list of eight deliverable tasks, which were approved by the 2021 Academy Board of Directors, to focus their efforts moving forward:

1 Create toolkits for agencies.

a. Look externally at how we can apply DEI practices in our operations (a smart practice for all agencies to adopt). b. Create and package accessible educational information for the profession — webinars, blogs, newsletters, conference

sessions, online materials and so on. c. Be mindful of DEI in decision making and actions. d. Address all of the “isms” — racism and sexism, to name a couple. e. Recognize racial disparities in the profession and that inclusion goes beyond ethnicity. Communicate our platform.


Address systemic racism by acknowledging past and present inequities, and create safe spaces for conversation and growth.


Educate and create awareness within the profession so that the professionals can share resources and information about DEI with their agencies, state organizations and educational institutions, and that we can begin to impact and reflect the communities we serve and live in.


Bring greater diversity into our profession. Having diverse people in recreation is the best way to advocate. Work with NRPA to find ways to get diverse people into our profession.


Ensure our boards and staff represent our community and that we provide our community members of color the same or better parks near their homes.

6 Work with the Commission for

Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies to explore opportunities for addressing JEDI efforts.


Look internally at our industry/profession as to how we can enhance DEI.


Create a JEDI Diversity Award. While the work of the JEDI Com-

While the work of the JEDI Committee has only just begun, it is clear that this work is evolving and is critical to the future of our profession. mittee has only just begun, it is clear that this work is evolving and is critical to the future of our profession. “I am embracing all that I am learning and putting it into action with my team,” says Janet Bartnik, Academy 2021-2022 president-elect. “The Academy is full of people that others see as mentors. Serving as such, we can model best practices and others will come along with us on their own journeys. That is what I am most excited about!” This is the perfect moment to support the Academy, NRPA and our profession. Become an ally in the fight for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion of the professionals in our field and the patrons who access — and even those who don’t yet access — our programs and services in our communities. “The Academy issues a challenge for every member of the profession to begin their own soul searching and do some selfreflection on their attitudes, and words they use, exploring how they feel as individuals, about: race, equity and inclusion,” says Adams. Let’s all work together to make our profession, workplaces and communities better and more inclusive places for all people to feel welcomed and their voices heard. Tracey Crawford, CTRS, CPRP, is Executive Director at the Northwest Special Recreation Association and Co-Chair of the Academy’s JEDI Committee. Roslyn Johnson, CPRP, is Director of Recreation and Parks at Baltimore County and Co-Chair of the Academy’s JEDI Committee.

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MESSAGE RECEIVED Tools and best practices for effective verbal and nonverbal communication By Denise Anderson


here is no skill that is more important for a park and recreation leader to have than communication, specifically verbal communication. Leaders — including supervisors and managers — find themselves in constant communication with co-workers, boards, sponsors, parents and other stakeholders. Therefore, clear, effective communication is critical to a leader’s or manager’s success and contributes to their employees’ and the agency’s success. Failure to effectively communicate may lead one down a path of miscommunication, distrust, anger, inefficiency and other negative outcomes. While this article mainly focuses on verbal communication skills, it is also important to understand the role that nonverbal communication plays in a conversation. Verbal communication centers around an individual’s (or sender’s) choice of words and how they are received and eventually interpreted by the receiver. This not only includes word choice that considers one’s audience, but also delivery (e.g., pace and tone), and reinforcement (e.g., body language and other cues) that influence how the message is received. In addition, active listening is an important part of the equation. That is, successful message delivery + active listening = effective conversation. There are useful guidelines that


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should be considered when communicating with a variety of individuals and groups. Being observant is particularly helpful in communicating, as it stresses noting nonverbal cues presented by the audience. In addition, it is important that the speaker recognizes nonverbal cues and how they may have a strong impact on how the message is received. For example, impatiently tapping one’s fingers, looking at a smartphone, or not making eye contact may all send a message of indifference. Regardless of the conversation topic, it is important to remain calm. At times, conflict can rear its ugly head; however, working to tamp down emotions in the moment will go a long way in producing more effective

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communication. From word choice to tone and body language, a calm demeanor will help both during the conversation and also in maintaining a healthy professional relationship. Spontaneous negative outbursts often have long-term ramifications. Empathy is a powerful tool. Understanding the feelings of your staff will go a long way toward a productive conversation. The ability to be clear and concise in communication can help you improve the efficiency of people’s work in that it will allow for greater understanding of the message the first time it is presented. If employees clearly understand your message, productivity will be increased and confusion decreased, thus, making for a better work environment and helping reduce frustrations. Often, leaders will find themselves in a situation where they need to advise others on an appropriate course of action. At times, these are situations where the employees’ own behavior needs to be adjusted. There are different tools one can use to address these scenarios.

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Dos and Don’ts of Communication Regardless of your communication style and keeping in mind the basic skills of effective communication, there are some clear dos and don’ts of communication that help any leader ensure an effective communication style in a wide variety of situations.


Have a strong communication plan.

Don’t: Depend on technology for communication.

It is likely that you use several communication tools (e.g., email, social media, brochures) as part of your overall communication plan, depending on your goals and audience. If we limit discussion of the communication plan to internal conversations, typically we rely on face-to-face conversations, phone conversations, texting or email. It would behoove a leader to really consider the topic of the conversation and which approach may produce the best outcomes. Of the four, texts and emails often have the most downside even though many of us rely on them almost to the exclusion of the other two. Electronic messaging allows for the person to respond in their own time, as well as to disseminate information that is clear and does not require a prolonged back and forth. Unfortunately, emails and texts are

often used with poor results. As they lack a personal touch, some people will be emboldened to say things they would never say face to face or even in a phone conversation. This can lead to hurt feelings, as well as misunderstandings, particularly if fired off in the heat of the moment. Therefore, in more volatile situations, and situations where the way forward is less defined, talking to a person is likely not only more efficient, but also more effective and leads to fewer instances of misinterpretations.

but oversharing also involves the ability to edit oneself by recognizing what an employee, depending on their management level, should and should not be privy to. From budgetary decisions to personnel decisions, it is important for a leader to have a solid understanding of what is appropriate to share with colleagues. While sharing personal stories related to the topic can be instrumental in opening and furthering dialogue, there is a line between appropriate stories and “too much information.”



Understand your audience.

Don’t: Use negative

Don’t: Be afraid to

Whether your audience is comprised of employees, supervisors, community members, agency members, board members or others, it is important to understand where they are coming from and their perspectives on the message you are communicating. Of course, part of the communication is body language. Therefore, be sure to avoid negative body language that can completely derail your message, such as frowning, lack of eye contact or holding your arms crossed.

Part of active listening often includes asking questions. Asking questions, assuming they are thoughtful questions that show you were listening to the person you are speaking with, not only helps provide clarification to a conversation, but also indicates to the speaker that what they are saying is important and confirms that you are both on the same page.

body language.


Be consistent.

Don’t: Overshare.

Consistency in messaging is a hallmark of a strong leader. How a message is delivered may change depending on the audience; however, the core message should remain consistent. Failure to do this can result in a multitude of poor outcomes, including mistrust and poor performance by your employees. In addition, it is important that a leader not overshare. Sometimes, this is in reference to personal information,


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Listen actively.

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ask questions.


Give feedback.

Don’t: Have one-sided conversations.

Feedback to the speaker indicates that you hear what they are saying and also is part of active listening. If you spend most of your time talking or waiting for your turn to talk rather than listening, it is likely that you will miss most of the message. Being prepared to give feedback forces you to really listen, so that the feedback is on target and ultimately leads to more positive outcomes from the conversation.

Tools to Improve Communication Outcomes Continuously working to improve verbal communication skills may help a leader achieve professional goals, such as career advancement, positive communication with a stakeholder, or an employee’s performance improvement. The use of reinforcement is one way that a person may facilitate an effective conversation. With eye contact, smiling, nodding and other types of nonverbal actions, leaders can provide encouragement within the discussion without disrupting its flow. These actions help minimize nervousness in other people by communicating openness, warmth and interest, which serve to improve the relationship between the sender and receiver. Asking questions also is an effective communication tool that consists of two forms, depending on what you hope to achieve. On one hand, open questions will encourage elaboration or discussion. For example: “What do you mean by that statement?” On the other hand, a closed question is appropriate for queries that call for a simple answer, such as: “Did you submit your final budget?” Recognizing how a well-timed, appropriate question can move the conversation forward is an effective tool in a variety of situations. It also is beneficial for a speaker to check with the “receiver” for clarification. Paraphrasing and repeating back what you hear is an effective technique to ensure both parties in the conversation are on the same page. This type of clarification affirms that the speaker is showing that they are trying to understand a situation from the other person’s perspective (empathy), demonstrates respect and interest, and allows further clarification. While it is a good practice to sum-

marize the main points before moving away from the conversation, following up with an email outlining the points may be effective to document next steps. Should the conversation focus on a more challenging topic, such as a performance review, summarizing main points may help ensure that both parties are clear on what to take from the conversation.

Communication Styles There are six different communication styles that a leader may want to consider incorporating — the who, what, when and why of the conversation. Probably the most critical style to master is that of listening, specifically active listening. While there is no ideal ratio of speaking to listening, it is important that a leader uses the information available to gauge any reactions. From body language to what others are saying, active listening allows individuals to evaluate a situation and respond in an appropriate manner. Beyond using reinforcement and nonverbal cues, active listening involves focusing on a speaker and what they are saying. It also involves formulating an appropriate response, maintaining an open mind, and keeping distractions at a minimum (for example, setting a phone to silent or moving to a quieter area). While formulating an appropriate response is part of active listening, the receiver should make sure they aren’t just anxiously waiting for their turn to say something without truly taking in the message. Another communication style of note is coaching. In these situations, the leader helps an employee develop a broad set of skills, laying out goals for moving forward. Another style is teaching. Teaching is focused on helping an employee with a particular skill or task that they are struggling with. The leader

lays out the foundation for addressing the situation, explaining why the course of action would be beneficial. Providing direction allows a leader to specify steps to move a project forward. However, it is essential that a leader understands that the delivery of their message is key to avoiding a style that would be classified as “dictating.” Outlining a framework is helpful. Advising employees is a communication style that focuses on providing clarity or advice to help a person move forward with a task, project or skill development. Motivating can look different for each employee. A leader using this style should determine what motivates their employee.

Difficult Conversations While difficult conversations are inevitable, the strategies outlined above can ensure the outcomes of these conversations meet your goals. Conveying constructive feedback while emphasizing specific, changeable behaviors, and disciplining employees in a direct, respectful manner, can help de-escalate tense situations. The more specific and respectful the leader can be in delivering the message, the more likely it is to be received in a manner that can be acted upon. Combining this with awareness of nonverbal cues can keep the conversation on track. Finding a way to give positive credit can help acceptance of the message. Strong communication skills are an essential characteristic of an effective leader. Only through successful communication can the goals of the individual, their employees and the agency be met to successfully provide park and recreation services. Denise Anderson is Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences at Clemson University (

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The Latest Park and Recreation News and Trends

On the Go Available on iTunes and Google Play The Official Podcast of NRPA

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(ISSN 0031-2215) is published monthly by the National Recreation and Park Association, 22377 Belmont Ridge Rd., Ashburn, VA 20148, a service organization supported by membership dues and voluntary contributions. Copyright ©2022 by the National Recreation and Park Association. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Opinions expressed in signed articles are those of the writers and not necessarily those of NRPA. Issued to members at the annual subscription price of $30, included in dues. Subscription: $46 a year in the U.S.; $56 elsewhere. Single copy price: $7. Library rate: $58 a year in the U.S.; $68 elsewhere. Periodical postage paid at Ashburn, Virginia, and at additional mailing offices. Editorial and advertising offices at 22377 Belmont Ridge Rd., Ashburn, VA 20148. 703.858.0784. Postmaster, send address changes to Parks & Recreation, 22377 Belmont Ridge Rd., Ashburn, VA 20148.

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Park Bench

STEAM Education Gets the Green Light The 2021 NRPA Out-of-School Time Report ( found that two-thirds of park and recreation agencies offer out-of-school time science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) activities. In Elk Grove, California, the Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD) is among those using STEAM to engage young minds and instill a lifelong love of learning. The coordinators at Kid Central, Cosumnes CSD’s out-of-school time program for elementary school-aged children, plan curriculum around monthly themes. The overarching curriculum of kindness provides a space of acceptance and belonging. “We’ve always been intentional that all kids are seen and represented. We make this a priority when developing and implementing curriculum,” says Program Supervisor Chantal Udasco. In recognition of Black History Month, February’s theme is “Inventors and Innovators,” with activities that highlight African Americans and women in history who helped make the world a better place. February’s focus is especially impactful to participants from underrepresented communities, as women and minorities have historically been left out of science and technology-oriented disciplines. Last February, one STEAM project highlighted Garrett Morgan, the inventor of the improved stoplight. The day began with a U.S. history lesson about Morgan’s technological innovation, which evolved into an art project where the kids integrated math and engineering to create their own working stoplight. The project inspired collaboration and problem-solving skills and had the kids buzzing with excitement. After completing the project, everyone had a blast playing an inspired game of Red Light, Green Light. “All of the STEAM concepts were woven together to give a full understanding and experience for the kids that day,” says Program Coordinator Katy Ward. “We noticed that they were so fully immersed in the lesson that they didn’t even realize we had taught them something,” she adds with a laugh. The month also included a segment titled “Inventions By Accident.” Participants were impressed to learn about historical figures who persevered after experiencing failure. Udasco says these lessons inspire hands-on learning, encourage curiosity, and promote a growth mindset for the kids. With a focus on STEAM and diversity, participants exercise creative thinking in an inclusive learning environment where everyone is encouraged to participate and contribute. As an agency dedicated to providing culturally-responsive services, program coordinators at Cosumnes CSD provide an opportunity for young participants to engage with adults who believe in them, challenge them and support them beyond a traditional classroom setting. — Jenna Brinkman, Public Affairs Manager, Cosumnes Community Services District 56

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Last February, one Kid Central STEAM project highlighted Garrett Morgan, the inventor of the improved stoplight.




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