Celebrating Your Staff on Parks and Recreation Professionals Day

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.

Outdoor Celebration

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.

Virtual Event

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.

Personalized Recognition

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.

How to Get Involved With Your Local Park

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.

It’s no surprise that people in the community love their parks! In fact, 83% of Americans note that they personally benefit from the use of parks in the community. But there are ways to get involved beyond just frequently using your local park. A majority of people understand that parks contribute to conservation efforts, health and wellness, and even social equality but are often at a loss for how they can help to support parks. Here are a few ways that anybody can be a supporter of local parks in your community.

Volunteer

Volunteering with your local parks and recreation department offers additional resources that they may be lacking. One of the biggest challenges in many parks and rec departments is a lack of staffing to accomplish everything they want to do. Volunteering with your local parks can help with conservation efforts and projects, which is one of the pillars of parks. From clearing trails to helping with environmental education to doing research, there are a variety of ways you can use your talents to assist with the preservation and promotion of parks in your area.

Promote It

Something simple that everyone can do is to promote the use of parks in their community. Whether you frequent your local park on a daily basis or just love to take advantage of it every once in a while, let the people in your community know! Word of mouth is powerful for anything and that includes local parks. Host gatherings in your local park and invite neighbors and friends. Meet up with a friend for a walk or hike. Take pictures and share them on social media making sure to use any known hashtags and tagging official accounts. The ways in which you can promote your local park are nearly endless and easy!

Be a Voice

Perhaps one of the most impactful things you can do to support your local parks is to be a voice in community leadership. While most people agree that local parks are crucial to their communities, this is one of the areas that’s often first to lose funding in a budget deficit situation. When community members take it upon themselves to get involved with local leadership, the importance of parks funding can be championed. Talk to local leaders about why parks are essential to your community. Show up to community meetings and speak your support for parks and recreation departments and local parks.

Local parks are an integral part of local communities and community members are crucial in the promotion and preservation of them throughout the state and the country. If you’d like to learn more about how to get involved, contact us!

5 Ways City Leaders Can Support Local Parks

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.

Oftentimes, parks and recreation professionals are met with the idea that parks are not high up on the priority list for many local and state leaders. However, the current pandemic has shone a brilliant light on just how important local parks are for the community for myriad reasons. During the current situation, parks are being recognized for their benefits to mental and physical well-being in addition to being affordable spaces for the community to gather responsibly. Simply put, parks are essential to the quality and enrichment of people’s lives. So how can city leaders help sustain and promote their local parks most effectively?

Listen to Your Constituents

If you’re an elected leader, it’s your responsibility to listen to and act on behalf of your constituents. A recent study proved that 92% of Americans say that their community benefits from local parks. In addition, 83% noted that they personally benefit from their local parks and four out of five agree that local parks are worth the tax dollars spent on them. Even the majority of people who don’t use their local parks say that they benefit the community. With the majority of the community in support of parks, local leaders, both elected and appointed, have a duty to protect, preserve, and promote the greenspaces in their jurisdiction.

Get Outside

It might sound simple, but get outside and use the parks in your community. The majority of local leaders note taking advantage of parks in their area just like the rest of the community. When you get out and experience what your local parks have to offer, you’re more likely to understand their importance and continue to advocate for supporting them.

Educate Yourself and Your Colleagues

Parks are more than just a pretty place for people to connect with nature. They serve the greater community in unique and interesting ways. Often, city leaders aren’t aware of all of the benefits that parks bring to a community. Beyond the enrichment of lives and contribution to mental and physical health, parks also employ a significant number of citizens. Parks also entice businesses to select new locations nearby because they prioritize quality-of-life amenities in their location decisions. Well-maintained local parks also result in increased property values, which, in turn, enhance local tax revenue. Parks are important to any municipality’s bottom line and way of life. Educating yourself and your colleagues about the true importance of parks is a wonderful way to support the cause.

Partner With Parks and Recreation Professionals

Parks and Recreation professionals offer the unique ability to share expertise across many disciplines and jurisdictions in order to bring more comprehensive solutions to community issues. As a city leader, partnering with them can provide a rich knowledge base on not only parks, but also on how other systems can benefit and work with them. Parks and recreation departments as a whole contribute to a wide range of services, including health and wellness, environmental sustainability, social equality and neighborhood engagement, and much more. Working together with parks and recreation professionals can help you understand what’s needed for a variety of causes and how your leadership can benefit the overall community.

Advocate for Funding

Perhaps the most impactful thing that city leaders can do to support local parks is advocate for funding. Studies have shown that parks and recreation departments experience the most drastic cuts during a fiscal deficit scenario, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, they experience the biggest increase during a surplus. Parks play such an important role community-wide and are intertwined with areas that tend to receive more attention. By advocating for parks and recreation funding, leaders can increase the effectiveness of the funding of other crucial services.

Together, parks and recreation departments and staff can work with city leaders and officials to preserve and promote the benefits of the beautiful parks throughout the state and country.