In honor of National Park and Recreation Month, and upcoming Pennsylvania Park and Recreation Professionals Day, we’re focusing on ways the entire community can support and promote the enjoyment of parks in Pennsylvania and beyond.
Pennsylvania Park and Recreation Professionals Day, which is celebrated on the third Friday in July every year, was founded to recognize the hard work and dedication that these professionals put into keeping local parks safe, accessible, and enjoyable every single day.
Park and recreation professionals are more than just “those parks people.” They are intertwined with everything that’s important to their communities. Their work goes far beyond just the maintenance and promotion of local parks. They work with transportation, public health, urban planners, landscape architects, environmentalists, local officials and leaders, tourism offices, and much more. Their integrated professionalism offers them the ability to share their expertise across multiple disciplines and jurisdictions in order to bring comprehensive solutions to community problems. They’re the feet on the ground doing life-enriching work for the communities they serve and often their successes and contributions go unsung. That’s why Park and Recreation Professionals Day was created!
With more than 8,000 full- and part-time parks and recreation professionals throughout Pennsylvania, local leaders have the perfect opportunity to celebrate this portion of the workforce on a dedicated day. Good for PA/Good for All has created a simple way to recognize, celebrate, and honor these professionals working tirelessly for our local parks. Though in-person celebrations may not be entirely possible this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still opportunities to recognize the parks and recreation professionals in your community.
What better way to say thank you to all the parks and recreation professionals than to host an event to celebrate them in the very place they work so hard to support? If you can, put together an event at a local park to say “thank you” to all your parks and recreation staff. Encourage people to be responsible and remain socially distant given the current pandemic. Since family-style dining is a bit risky these days, you can provide individually packaged refreshments. Be sure to let everyone know the details and the precautionary measures to be taken.
Park and Recreation Professionals Day may look a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean it should be forgotten! If you’re in an area where you can’t get out in the parks with everyone to celebrate, then host a virtual event. Make sure you promote it at local council meetings, online, and within the community so people are able to attend and participate.
Make this a time to personally recognize your staff for their hard work. COVID-19 has tasked a lot of us with additional stressors and procedures and parks and recreation staff are no different. They’ve been taking on roles they haven’t had before like handing out masks, doing security detail, and even handing out food. Recognize them for their dedication even if it’s with a personalized award on paper.
Whatever you’re doing to mark Park and Recreation Professionals Day, make sure people know about it and can join you in your celebration. Make it a big deal because it IS a big deal! Partner with local leaders for local proclamations for the day to get them involved and invite them to your event. Let the public know and bring them in as well. It provides the perfect opportunity to help everyone expand their understanding and appreciation for parks and the professionals who dedicate their time to preserving and protecting them.