Wednesday, July 24, 2013

52 Ways to Use Your VRPS Membership: Week 30, Focusing and Facilitating

FOCUS, People.

Katey Legg, CPRP (VRPS President), 
James Stutts, CPRP, CAE (VRPS Executive Director), 
Kathy Williams, CTRS (VRPS Board of Directors), and
Nancy Turnage (VRPS Central Office)

On Friday, July 12, 2013, a Mid-Year Leadership Meeting at the VRPS Central Office was comprised of elected Service Area and Resource Group leadership.  In late May, 2013, an invitation was extended to all members of every VRPS Service Area and Resource Group board, with the intention of obtaining representation from across Virginia from those in leadership positions in the Society.  As a result, participation represented all Service Areas (two to three from each of the five) and active Resource Groups, including a professional in the private sector who is interested in reviving the VRPS Therapeutic Recreation Resource Group.  Fifteen attendees from a cross-section of the Society's membership set about the ultimate objective of initiating face-to-face dialogue regarding thoughts on the future direction of VRPS.

This focus group was facilitated by VRPS Board member Kathy Williams, CTRS, from Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation, with a goal of gathering information to aid in the development of the strategic plan.  Kathy both trained to be a facilitator through and utilizes her facilitating skills for the City of Virginia Beach since 2007.  Currently, she facilitates various teams for the city, including the city's Strategic Issue Team.

The VRPS group went through the Appreciative Inquiry Process, beginning with appreciating what VRPS is currently, what VRPS might look like in 2023, and then looking at areas to focus on as the Society moves forward.  Some common themes that emerged included:
  • face-to-face connection ("we are in the people serving business"),
  • membership development,
  • rebranding VRPS, 
  • increased involvement with colleges/universities,
  • technology,
  • education,
  • communication, and
  • networking
"The energy in the room was tremendous; it was so exciting to have the group so engaged and full of ideas."
- Focus Group Facilitator Kathy Williams

Several years ago, during the development of the previous strategic plan, focus groups were held throughout the state to obtain similar information.  At that time, their feedback was used to generate and implement a five-year strategic plan.  One of the challenges faced this year was timing:  conducting a meeting in the middle of the summer season can be difficult in the recreation and parks profession, particularly if the target group is comprised of recreation programmers.  However, subsequent feedback from several attendees has been positive:  they feel the exercises were worthwhile and useful and their time well-spent.
“It was encouraging to see so many young professionals demonstrating a vested interest in the future of VRPS.  Everyone at the meeting was very motivated and presented a ton of great ideas. I am truly excited about the future of VRPS!”
-Focus Group Member Aaron Reidmiller

"I hope to see this again next year – if we aren't asking the members what's useful and relevant, we won’t know we’re on the right track.  Hopefully the information we received from this exercise will help VRPS determine future direction and identify some goals."
-VRPS President Katey Legg

A special thanks to the following individuals for taking time out of their summer schedules on behalf of the Virginia Recreation and Park Society:
  • Ryan Brookes (Northern Service Area)
  • Tamara Brown (Eastern Service Area)
  • Erik Dart (Western Service Area – Chair)
  • Nat Franklin (Southwestern Service Area)
  • Katherine Herrington (Southwestern Service Area – Intern)
  • Judy Jones (Senior Resource Group - Chair)
  • Sarah Kuhn (Western Service Area, Recorder for the Meeting)
  • Cindy McFall (Southwestern Service Area)
  • Hugo Morrison (Eastern Service Area - Chair)
  • Ryan Peters (Central Service Area)
  • Aaron Reidmiller (Central Service Area - Chair, Senior Resource Group)
  • Daniel Ronquillo (Senior Resource Group, Therapeutic Recreation Resource Group)
  • Kerstin Severin (Northern Service Area, Aquatics Resource Group)
  • Matt Spruill (Central Service Area, Leadership Training Institute)
  • Julie Townsend (Therapeutic Resource Group)
  • Lynn Turner (Western Service Area)

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