DiscoverBecky Talks Parks: Parks & Recreation Podcast for Passionate Professionals
Becky Talks Parks: Parks & Recreation Podcast for Passionate Professionals

Becky Talks Parks: Parks & Recreation Podcast for Passionate Professionals

Author: Becky Dunlap

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Sharing the stories about parks and recreation professionals who work tirelessly to improve the programs, parks, and community services that enhance the quality of life of everyone around them.
22 Episodes
Navigating Parks and Recreation as a Student
Hey everybody and welcome back! In this episode I hear from a student young professional who is a student in parks and recreation. She's going to talk to the moments after you decide that you want a career in this field.What happens when you decide that you want to work in parks recreation? Once I found out that I wanted to have a career in the parks and recreation field, one of the things that helped me along the way was trying to figure out what kinds of jobs there were available. Then, I looked at what degrees were required to get that job, and what it looked like to move up in the field. I found that there were many different types of jobs – like aquatic supervisors, park supervisors,  athletic coordinators, park Rangers, park managers and so much more.  I didn't realize that once you got a recreation degree, that there were all of these amazing and different diverse kinds of careers that you could have.I also realized that there are many different types of recreation degrees. Some of them are called environmental education, or leisure studies, or outdoor education. There’s so many different names for different schools, and it’s just a matter of what kind of job you want to get after school. How do you get started in the field? A lot of people want to know how you get your foot in the door, and that’s often the hardest part.The first thing I would suggest is to do your research. Think about that dream job and what kind of degrees you’ll need. Would it be with a city? A state? A county? A private entity? National Parks? Whatever you decide, look towards those places to see how they operate and what kind of experience/education is necessary.Another helpful tip is to volunteer. You can commit to whatever your schedule will allow. So whether it’s once a month or once a week, you can meet people and connect with others. You also get to see how park systems operate. You can even see your dream job in action. Ask someone who has your “dream job” and ask them all the questions. Arrange a meeting with them and then ask them how did they get where they are. What did their daily job look like? Figure out what their job title is and what advice they might give. I would also recommend getting in touch with associations. The National Association of Interpretation is such a great association. They help young interpreters prepare for a career. They have workshops, activities, and they have lots of professionals who can give advice. Another association is NRPA, and they do similar things. Every state also has an association – so find one in your region that is active and be involved.What my you tell someone who's who's looking for that dream job but isn’t hearing back after they apply?  When you're trying to apply for a position or become a volunteer, go talk to the people and introduce yourselves to the manager or your potential supervisor. Tell them how happy you are to be applying for this job. Face to face and handshakes go a long way.   You may want to start with a part-time position, or a studentwork position, or maybe you are even volunteering. However, you may not realize what you’re dream job actually is until you start. It’s okay to get started and then change your mind. There will be a time where you may have to start as a parks worker, changing trash cans, and that’s okay. You may not have the best job right now because you are just a student and you are learning. Looing back, I am very proud that I did those types of jobs. Someone had to do it, and it didn’t just help the parks – it helps the public enjoy their parks and recreation experience. What do you think are some of the topics that we should all collectively be thinking about as parks and recreation professionals? -         Look at what some of the best parks and recreation departments are doing-         What do their parks look like?  What’s different about their programs? -         What makes the difference between a program that gets 2 people and a program with 20 or 200 people? -         Talk with people who work in the front-line positions at your parks or recreation centers who talk directly with customers. Understand their point of view and develop relationships with them to hear constant feedback. Deona is working on an app to help people experience parks in new ways. If you’d like to be involved, or perhaps know someone with the technical expertise to help her, please reach out to her at
Trust Me Now, Judge Me Later with Pat O'Toole I had the pleasure of talking with Pat O'Toole from GreenPlay LLC.  Check out the interview!Trust Me Now, Judge Me Later w/ Pat O’TooleYou have this phrase that I’ve heard you say a couple of times: Trust Me Now, Judge Me Later.  There’s gotta be a story behind that. In your early twenties, you had a lot of responsibility.  Tell us about one of your earliest jobs when you didn’t yet have a lot of experience, and how you managed to find a way to get things done despite your limitations. Like most parks and recreation agencies, there are policies and rules in place for good reason.  How do you know when that policy needs to be modified, and what steps have you taken in the past to be more efficient?What would you say to agencies that say that the lack the funding is holding them back from carrying forward with important projects?Pat O'Toole Pat brings over 25 years of management planning for parks and recreation agencies and has been leading projects for GreenPlay since 2003. Prior to joining GreenPlay, Pat was President of OATS LLC, a private consulting firm. Before that he worked for many years as a Principal for another parks planning firm, and he was previously a director and assistant director for several agencies in four different states. Pat has extensive expertise in budgeting, operational pro-formas, cost recovery and activity-based costing, efficiencies, public process, and all other facets of leading agencies. He is skilled at leading forward focused projects and teams, specifically related to creating vision and implementation.
Creative Marketing Strategies for Parks & Recreation Departments W/ Katy Keller
Find the full episode @  www.beckytalksparks.comKaty is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina and received her degree in Recreation & Park Management from Appalachian State University in 2011. Following graduation, Katy worked as a Recreation Specialist for Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation. In March 2015, she was hired by the Town of Indian Trail Parks & Recreation where her main responsibilities include marketing, programming and park projects. Katy is also the East Central Regional rep for the NRPA’s YPN State Associations Committee and is active in the NCRPA YPN with Student Outreach. Outside of work Katy enjoys spending time with her husband and keeping up with her two toddlers. Katy is Raising the Bar:By showing up online and offline in so many different professional networks By understanding her own habits and implementing strategies that would catch her own attention.By empathizing with her audience so that they can relate to their agencyBy implementing systems to get creative ideas from staff  In this episode you'll learn:Strategies to get your audience to tag their friends and engage with your officeHow creating a reaction in people will help them stop and pay attention.How one of Indian Trail's event promotion on Facebook reached 1,000,000 people!Why Awesome PRIZES will promote engagement and inspire people to share your post.How to successfully and strategically plan out social media content without burning out The details:Katy is involved with the following networks --> NRPA Young Professional Network & Mentoring Young ProfessionalsIndian Trail Facebook Page and Instagram Indian Trail releases 2 Recreation Brochures a YearMake Recreation Guides Simple!Reduce redundant information!Make it visually appealing! Find more info and other episodes @ 
Engaging the Public: Conservation & Recreation w/  Keri Konald
More info --> Keri Konold joined me for another episode on the podcast this week to talk about public engagement in relation to conservation and recreation.  It can be difficult to achieve a balance between conservation and recreation; they seem like opposing sides, and yet one in the same.  Keri talks about using the SHIFT principles to reframe the conversation to make progress.  We also dive into her philosophy behind public engagement and some of the ways she has found success when talking to communities, large or small. Keri is currently the Community Relations Officer at City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, in addition to being a Project Consultant for GreenPlay, LLC.   Keri is raising the bar by:redefining “public engagement” to actually just mean real conversationsalways having her goals and objectives top of mind before diving into strategy.changing the conversation because promote conservation and recreation can thrive simultaneously “I encourage professionals to not be daunted by public engagement, but rather embrace it and leverage it to provide a better product so our communities whom we serve can go out and have the experiences that they value.” In this episode you’ll learn:how a culture of collaboration can help create a shared language about conservation on pubic and private landWhy developing personal relationships pays off dividends in the end when getting things doneIf anyone has a stake in the game - as in--> they value something you do, then value their opinion.  “If you know your objective up front, then you can determine the strategy for getting there.”       “'Public engagement' are filthy words for simply having a conversation" “bringing our professional skill  “If you don’t tell people what you expect, and what you need, then you’re not going to get it." Louise Benitas  Why is conservation important? We can use access as a way to develop ethos for developing  How do we make sure public lands are relevant?  cultural groups, age groups Economic impact?      Additional Resources: 
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