Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Perspective from the Awards Committee

by Mark Furlo, CPRP

Director, Portsmouth Parks, Recreation, & Leisure Services
VRPS 2016 Awards Committee
Immediate Past Chair, VRPS Eastern Service Area


I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Awards and Citations Committee. Awards and Citations is a Committee of the VRPS Board of Directors. The work of the committee culminates at the Awards Banquet at the Annual Conference where we showcase our best and brightest!  This year marks the third year I have had the honor of serving. I first served in 2007, again in 2014, and now 2016. The Chair or Co-Chairs are appointed by the President of the Board every year. The rest of the Committee is comprised of one representative from each of the Service Areas and Resource Groups. The Service Areas and Resource Group are allowed to determine the manner in which they select their representative. In the Eastern Service Area, the area of my representation, the Immediate Past Chairs represents the Service Area on the Committee. Over the past ten years, I have seen a lot of change in how the Committee operates to make the process easier.

My first year on the Committee in 2007, agencies were required to mail multiple paper copies of their applications, descriptions, CDs with photos, and promotional items to the VRPS central office. From there, the VRPS staff had to split all the materials into large boxes and distributed throughout the state to each committee member to review. Now all committee members are emailed one excel spreadsheet that contain the descriptions and links to the PDFs for supporting documentation. Saving time and resources.


While some things changed, many remain constant, the most important thing that remains constant? The NOMINEES, the wonderfully creative, and innovative programs, facilities, and promotional efforts, and the dedicated volunteers, and professionals that show the excellent work they are doing. My favorite part of serving on the Committee is reading through all of the inspiring submissions. Another constant is the tremendous volume of materials that has to be reviewed by the Committee. About 100 applications were submitted for awards this year. It takes a very dedicated group of people to read through the applications for awards. Every Committee member that I have served with has taken this responsibility very seriously. Members understand the time and effort that each Department puts into the preparation of these awards.

The Committee gathers at the VRPS central office before the annual conference every year. They examine each category and discuss the merits of each application. Winners are selected by a majority vote of the committee and in cases of ties the Chair casts the tie breaking vote. Sometimes there is a clear choice for an award, but more often tough decisions have to be made regarding winners. At times, the committee chooses not to give an award in a category even if there were submissions. If in the opinion of the Committee, the application does not demonstrate significant elements of the criteria an award will not be given.

As someone who has been a part of an agency that has won VRPS Awards and someone that has served on the selection committee, I offer the following advice when submitting for awards:

  • Carefully put together a team to work on the applications at minimum the team should include:
    • Someone that is familiar with the subject being submitted
    • Someone that can tell a story and writes well (not good)
    • Someone that can proofread for grammar
    • Someone that manages time well and can keep people on task
  • Make sure the individual, program, or facility meet all of the eligibility requirements
  • Show how the individual, program, or facility demonstrated the selection criteria
  • Tell a story in your narrative that will help it stand out among the others

Remember the judges are your peers, we are people, and we sometimes make mistakes. We do our best to evaluate the submissions based on the criteria, but the evaluation is the opinion of the judges. If your program doesn’t win a VRPS award it does not take away from the merit of your project or the  individual you submitted, nor does it take away the love and appreciation your community has for your recreation center, pool, trail, staff persons, or volunteer. Good luck and I look forward to reading about new programs and recreation centers, should I be given the opportunity to serve again.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Be Thankful

by Sandy Kellogg

Aquatic Operations Supervisor, Mount Vernon RECenter
Fairfax County Park Authority
VRPS Aquatics Resource Group 2016 Chair
VRPS 2016 Awards Co-Chair





It’s been a long fall for my family.  On October 2nd my condo, River Towers in Alexandria, started to collapse.  32 families were evacuated, and our part of the building was officially condemned pending repairs.  I have been homeless ever since.  Technically I’m an Internally Displaced Person, with a Red Cross Case number and everything.  My husband, son and I were allowed to have a 10-minute ‘gather what you can’ run through the house, and that was it.  Optimistically it will be at least 6 months before we are allowed back in.

Before everyone starts a telethon or fundraiser, this is going to be the BEST Thanksgiving ever.   My children are all coming home, and there’s actually a home for them to come to!  A good friend has a cottage on his property and offered it to us.  We rely on electric heaters, and I’m reminded why commuting in NOVA is miserable, but we have a home, good friends, family coming, and a place to go every night.  Best Thanksgiving ever.


This experience has made me look at what we do.  Many Parks and Rec professionals run large buildings with good facilities.  Are we prepared to open our doors for a community emergency?   New facilities should be built with emergency response in mind.  A washer and dryer hookup would add a very small expense to a design or remodel, but it changes us from a recreation center to a possible emergency shelter.  We can provide activities for children, warming areas, even staging areas for emergency response, all just by opening our doors and becoming part of the solution.   Our neighbors depend on us, let’s not leave them out in the cold.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Can You Dig It?

by Milada Weaver

Volunteer Program Manager
Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation


Parks, recreation, admin, sports, development...basically every corner of the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) worked together to make things better on Monday, October 17. There was sweat, there was dirt, there was laughter, there was sun, there was a lot of great work done!  This is the second year that DPR “Digs In”  pulled together staff to beautify our parks and build team spirit.





Monday, November 14, 2016

VRPS Annual Awards: Recognizing Excellence in 2015


President’s Awards

Given at the Discretion of the President for Exceptional Service to the Society during 2016

2016 Annual Conference Committee
·         Doug Blount (Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism):  Co-Chair
·         John Shaner (Salem Parks and Recreation):  Co-Chair
·         Dean Crane, CPRP (Blacksburg Parks and Recreation)
·         Marcia Dougherty (Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism)
·         Jim Farmer (Botetourt County Parks and Recreation Department)
·         Allen Hayes (Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism)
·         Brian Laws, CPRP (Fairfax County Park Authority)
·         Arlain Martin (Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism)
·         Melida McKee, CPRP (Roanoke Parks and Recreation)
·         Alex North (Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism)
·         Scott Ramsburg (Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism)
·         Wendi Schultz (Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism)
·         Dr. Susan Van Patten (Radford University)
·         David Weir, CPRP (Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism)
·         Maureen Wilson (Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism)

2016 Leadership Training Institute Committee
·         Kristen Hamill, CPRP (Newport News Parks, Recreation and Tourism):  Co-Chair
·         Matt Spruill, CPRP (Colonial Heights Recreation and Parks):  Co-Chair
·         Terry Caldwell, CPRP, AFO (Christiansburg Aquatic Center)
·         Nancy Ellis, CPRP (James City County Parks and Recreation)
·         Kat Fish (Prince William County Parks and Recreation)
·         Brian Gannon, CPRP, AFO (Reston Community Center)
·         Michael Kalvort, CPRE (Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation)
·         Derek Stamey, CPRP (Goochland County Parks and Recreation)
·         Amy Woodson, CPRP (Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation)

Marcy Durrer, CPRP (Hanover County Parks and Recreation)

Dr. Susan Van Patten (Radford University)     


To see the following list, complete with photos, click here.
  
Fellows Award
·         Nancy E. Ellis, CPRP, James City County Parks and Recreation

Distinguished Service
·         Benita Ripley, Lynchburg Parks and Recreation

Outstanding New Professional
·         Alicia Engels, Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks
·         Lindsay Blankenship, Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism

Distinguished Private Sector Service
·         Landscape Supply Inc., Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism
·         Enrichmond, Richmond Parks, Recreation & Community Facilities

Distinguished Volunteer Service
·         Catherine Ledec, Fairfax County Park Authority
·         Charley O’Hara, Falls Church Recreation and Parks

Best New Program
·         Population Under 25,000 and Under
o   Heroes Camp, Hopewell Recreation and Parks
·         Population 25,001 – 50,000
o   Roverwalk, Danville Parks and Recreation
·         Population 50,001 – 100,000
o   RCC Rides, Reston Community Center
·         Population Greater than 100,000
o   Footgolf at Pinecrest Golf Course, Fairfax County Park Authority

Best New Special Event
·         Population 25,000 and Under
o   Irish Road Bowling, Staunton Parks and Recreation
·         Population 50,001 – 100,000
o   A Christmas Past at the Fishburn Mansion Open House, Roanoke Parks and Recreation
·         Population Greater than 100,000
o   Miss Abilities Chesapeake, Chesapeake Parks, Recreation and Tourism

Best New Facility (Bricks and Mortar)
·         Population 50,001 – 100,000
o   Whaleyville Community Center, Suffolk Parks and Recreation
·         Population Greater than 100,000
o   Bow Creek Recreation Center, Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation

Best New Facility (Parks, Playground, Greenways and Trails)
·         Population 25,000 and Under
o   Second Avenue/Park Road Improvement Project, Radford Parks and Recreation Department
·         Population 25,001 – 50,000
o   Danville Art Trail, Danville Parks and Recreation
·         Population 50,001 – 100,000
o   Jamestown Beach Event Park, James City County Parks and Recreation
·         Population Greater than 100,000
o   Elizabeth River Park, Chesapeake Parks, Recreation and Tourism

Best New Renovation/Addition (Bricks and Mortar)
·         Population 25,000 and Under
o   Shepherd Stadium Dugouts, Colonial Heights Recreation and Parks
·         Population 25,001 – 50,000
o   Ballou Recreation Center Upgrade, Danville Parks and Recreation
·         Population 50,001 – 100,000
o   Miller Center, Lynchburg Parks and Recreation
·         Population Greater than 100,000
o   Spring Hill RECenter, Fairfax County Park Authority

Best New Renovation/Addition (Parks, Playgrounds, Greenways & Trails)
·         Population 25,000 and Under
o   Crystal Springs Recreation Area, Wytheville Parks and Recreation
·         Population 50,001-1000,000
o   Roanoke River Trail, Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism
·         Population Greater than 100,000
o   Water Mine Family Swimmin' Hole, Fairfax County Park Authority

Best New Environmental Sustainability
·         Population 25,000 and Under
o   Lake Tams Renovation, Staunton Parks and Recreation
·         Population 25,001 – 50,000
o   Native Tree Walk at Ida Lee Park, Leesburg Parks and Recreation
·         Population 50,001 – 100,000
o   Neighborhood Center Teaching Gardens, Lynchburg Parks and Recreation
·         Population Greater than 100,000
o   Virginia Beach Trees for Clean Water Grant Initiative, Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation

Best Promotional Effort - Traditional
·         Population 25,000 and Under
o   Fall “History Edition” Program Guide, Goochland County Parks and Recreation
·         Population 25,001 – 50,000
o   Discount Movie Ticket Flyers, Orange County Parks and Recreation
·         Population 50,001 – 100,000
o   A Christmas Past at the Fishburn Mansion Brochure, Roanoke Parks and Recreation
o   Green Ridge Folder, Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism
·         Population Greater than 100,000
o   2015 Strategic Plan Report, Fairfax County Park Authority

Best Promotional Effort - Specialty
·         Population 25,000 and Under
o   2015 Herndon Festival Digital Brochure, Herndon Parks and Recreation
·         Population 25,001 – 50,000
o   25th Annual Flower and Garden Festival Wineglass, Leesburg Parks and Recreation
·         Population 50,001 – 100,000
o   Lynchburg is for Locavores Campaign, Lynchburg Parks and Recreation
o   Roanoke County Parks App, Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism
·         Population Greater than 100,000
o   15-second Video Promotion: Annual RECenter Membership Sale, Fairfax County Park Authority

Monday, October 31, 2016

Fall Friends

by Sandy Kellogg

Aquatic Operations Supervisor, Mount Vernon RECenter
Fairfax County Park Authority
VRPS Aquatics Resource Group 2016 Chair
VRPS 2016 Awards Co-Chair


Ahhhh, fall!  Wonderful season of crisp air, harvest festivals and pumpkin spice flavored everything.  Fall brought us one more wonderful thing; a full board meeting for the Aquatic Resource Group!  Yes, finally after a long hot summer the 40 some pools represented by the Aquatic Resource Group Board are all put to bed for the year.   We were able to get together, share lunch, and plan an amazing year for 2017.  Even our new board members were able to join us!

As we met, I kept thinking about the last couple years.  I’m leaving the board as an official voting member (although ‘past chair’ gets to still be involved-just try and stop me!), and I can’t express enough what the ARG and VRPS memberships have meant to me.  We have done so many amazing workshops, bringing nationally renowned speakers like Shawn DeRossa and Tom Griffiths to Virginia.  We ran several of our own workshops, things like the Model Aquatic Health Code and Camp Safety Training.  The best though was our roundtables, the chance to get out to other places in the state and meet with parks and recreation professionals from all over Virginia. 

Our 2017 board will continue to do great things, we have already planned a lot of it, and we look forward to an exciting series of events in the spring.  One warning though, while everyone is dusting off their beach bags and buying sunscreen in April and May we may be a little harder to find.  Join us on the pool deck, see us in our natural environment!  Until then, looking forward to conference and more of that fabulous fall season!


Monday, October 24, 2016

GOTOMEETING

by Todd Brown
Division Director, Park Operations
Fairfax County Park Authority

VRPS Northern Service Area 2016 Chair

Oh great.  Another meeting.  I have to get all my stuff together, find a county vehicle, and look up the directions to the place the meeting is this time.  Let me check my calendar one last time to make sure the meeting is at 10 and not 9:30.  

Wait ... what?  The meeting is at my desk?  I don’t have to leave my office?  How can this be (over-exaggerating for affect)?

VRPS Central Office helped the Northern Service Area Board setup a virtual "GoToMeeting" on October 12 and it was great!

Now if this sounds like at commercial for GoToMeeting, well it kind of is, but it is more of a thank you to VRPS for supporting us once again in our efforts in improving communication among different agencies over different counties.  Virtual meetings don't replace the great face-to-face interaction you get in the traditional meeting atmosphere.  However, you also don’t see the frustrated faces when traffic delays prompt start and, maybe more importantly, end times.

A few more benefits of our electronic meeting was that we didn’t need to worry about forgetting a needed document, as we simply had to search our desk or computers.  Now, that efficiency or lack thereof is based on one’s personal filing system or non-system.  The best thing was that during our meeting we found ourselves repeating “we need to ask VRPS for that information” or “we need to find out from VRPS when that is due”.  At the end of our meeting, Nancy Turnage from the VRPS office popped back up on our screen and asked if she could answer any questions.  Now, I am not saying I was as excited to see her as a kid is to see Santa Claus, but it sure was very timely and helpful.





The meeting concluded in under an hour and clear assignments were handed out, notes taken, and decisions made, one of which is that the Northern Service Area will make GoToMeeting available for our upcoming NSA meetings.

Please make sure you give it a try on October 26th at 10am.  Even if you have never attend an NSA meeting before, please join us at our year-ending-and-next-year-planning meeting.  Of course, we would love to see your smiling faces at the Stacy Sherwood Center in Fairfax on October 26th at 10am as well!

And, consider making a day of it by attending "Training to Evaluate:  Improve your Evaluation Skills" at the same location, 1-3:30pm, .2 CEUs eligible.


NSA Bi-Monthly Meeting 
Wed, Oct 26, 2016 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time 

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone. 
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/533956093 

You can also dial in using your phone. 
United States +1 (571) 317-3122 

Access Code: 533-956-093 


First GoToMeeting? Try a test session:   http://help.citrix.com/getready 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Build Community - a Perspective from 2016 NRPA Congress

by Kirk Kincannon, CPRP, AAPRA

Executive Director, Fairfax County Park Authority
VRPS Board of Directors and Past President
2016 VRPS Treasurer

Photo courtesy of Sandra Kellogg, Fairfax County Park Authority

Having finished up the NRPA Congress that was held in St. Louis from October 5-7, I spent the two hours on the flight home thinking about what I experienced and learned while attending this annual gathering of over 8,000 professionals. Of course there was the networking with colleagues, large social gathering aspect of the conference and the opening and closing ceremonies as well as a key note speaker, but there was also a wide variety and good selection of program offerings this year. As I reflected on the programs and key themes, I noted that much of what we face in today’s society was the topic of the presentations and discussion. The issues I speak of are diversity, inclusion, social equity, engagement and the value that each of us as public servants brings to the table. 

Each of us, working in our own community and jurisdiction have the opportunity to improve and enhance our communities. As Park and Recreation providers, we have a truly unique position related to our sphere of influence in the community. We touch more people than schools, health Departments and social services in the communities that we all serve. In fact, I believe that in the work we achieve, all of us contribute to the largest single social service mechanism in our communities. I also believe that we have a tremendously positive impact on the issues we all face and that we should work to ensure we incorporate a social equity platform in our Department policy and in our program offerings that we provide.

In the Fairfax County Park Authority we like to say that we build community. I believe each of us, as we perform our work in our own community, have the responsibility and the opportunity to build positive community and bring positive change to the world. We build community with greater magnitude if we take the time to look and act through the lens of those that are most in need and most under-represented in our community. The education sessions I attended made me ever more aware that I need to be more open to other points of view and more fully aware of the experiences of others that I meet on my professional and life journey. Here’s to the success of the National Recreation and Park Association Annual Congress in St. Louis this year, from one attendee who was truly inspired again!



Photo courtesy of Sandra Kellogg, Fairfax County Park Authority