Friday, February 26, 2016

Making Connections at VRPS Annual Conference

by Janit Llewellyn Allen

* Environmental Program Planner,
Virginia Depatment of Conservation and Recreation

* VRPS Professional Member

* 2015 Annual Conference Education Session Speaker:  "Connecting through Webinars"

The VRPS conference is a great place to make connections. Whether by listening to speakers or through conversation at one of the fun evening events, you will meet folks eager to partner with you and help you develop as a parks and recreation professional. Making these connections often lead to relationships with colleagues across the Virginia. Through VRPS contacts you may be able to accomplish something you did not think possible – a new program idea, funding for that park update, writing that article you have been meaning to get to for a while or even a promotion or new job!  

I first met Rita Miller from the Virginia Department of Health and a VRPS Board member at the VRPS offices when I was preparing for a webinar. We talked and realized our mutual interests in health and outdoor recreation could benefit both our agencies and VRPS. After getting our state agency leadership teams on board with the idea of doing a joint paper about tobacco cessation in parks, we decided to meet in Virginia Beach at the 2015 VRPS Conference. While at the conference, we had a less than formal meeting in the hotel lobby. Our casual setting drew in others including keynote speaker, Tom O’Rourke, Executive Director of Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission. There in the hotel lobby before dinner, we talked, listened and began to hammer out an outline for our paper.

Rita and I believe our partnership grew during the VRPS conference. While we work in separate agencies with vastly different missions, our combined approach and commitment to recreation and healthy lifestyles fired up by conversations at the VRPS conference is motivating us to outreach about tobacco use in parks. We hope our partnership will lead to a win-win-win-win - for the Health Department, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, for parks and recreation and most importantly for the children touched by local, regional and state parks and programs and facilities who will address tobacco cessation.    

Be on the lookout for a spring VRPS magazine article written by Rita and me. The article offers outdoor recreation professionals the opportunity to take a lead role in implementing health goals for tobacco cessation. The door is open for parks and recreation professionals to affect change and make a difference in the lives of children and families across Virginia.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Your Member Profile

by Nancy Turnage
VRPS Central Office

Login to the VRPS website and keep your member profile up-to-date.  Your profile is not only displayed in the online membership directory (unless you opt-out), but it is also used to create distribution lists for the different VRPS Service Areas (Central, Eastern, Northern, Southeastern, Western) and Resource Groups (Aquatics, Senior).

#1 Login from the VRPS homepage (upper-right corner):

#2 Select "View / Edit Your Profile" from the center block on the homepage after logging in:

#3 Select the "Edit/View Information" tab on the next screen:


#4 Scroll to the bottom of the page and indicate your Service Area/Resource Group choices:

Monday, February 8, 2016

Leadership Training Institute - It's All About You!

by Derek Stamey, CPRP

VRPS Board of Directors
Director, Goochland County Parks and Recreation

The famous Swiss psychologist Carl Jung said this about self-awareness, “everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”  He also added, “When an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate.”

The recreation profession, LTI, self-awareness, and Carl Jung….what in the world does one have to do with the other? Actually, the overlap is significant!  Our personalities and how we view ourselves and interact with others greatly impacts how successful we are in our profession and in our daily lives.  Unfortunately, Carl Jung won’t be speaking at LTI in April of 2016.  He passed away in 1961.  Don’t be disappointed!  The LTI committee has been working at length to put together an amazing slate of speakers and experiences.  This year’s LTI will allow you to share, be shaped by others, and leave you with a great, career awakening experience…beginning and ending with you!

Your eye opening experience at Wintergreen will begin with a Myers-Briggs personality assessment and an opening session entitled, “That’s Just Who I Am!”  This opening session will help to equip you with a self-awareness that will constantly and consistently be revisited throughout your LTI experience.  As you learn effective leadership practices and how to manage change you will begin to understand how your personality traits impact your ability to communicate with others as well as how they affect the productive and non-productive interactions that you may experience in your day to day life. 

Capping the LTI experience will be a riveting send off by Zin White, a highly decorated civil servant and military veteran who will captivate us all and that “We Can Make a Difference and It Begins with Me!”

For those seeking to develop themselves professionally or further their careers, make your attendance at LTI a priority.  For supervisors, managers, and administrators, seek out those in your organization that strive to excel professionally and make a commitment in cultivating their talent and desires to shine in our field.  Your organization and your staff will benefit from it.  Our profession will benefit from it.  I challenge you all to learn today, lead tomorrow, and inspire forever!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Getting Virginia Beach Healthy All in One Day

by Michael Kalvort, CPRE

VRPS Board of Directors
2016 Professional Education and Senior Resource Group Liaison
2016 LTI Committee
Director, Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation

Many departments in parks and recreation agencies experience a massive rush of registrations at the beginning of summer camp season, before the start of the school year and the first day the catalog is released. Yet, seldom do we, as professionals, develop sales and incentives for our customers to take advantage of. In celebrating the Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation Department’s 60th Anniversary and in tying in our citizen’s healthy New Year’s resolutions to work out and to become more fit, we decided to offer a one-day open house where we would discount our annual recreation center memberships from $86 to $60. Our memberships include access to all our amenities at our recreation centers.

This promotion was not as simple as just placing an ad in the paper and notifying our team members at the recreation centers. It was a total team effort. For weeks, social media was deployed, ad buys were placed, our team went through extensive sales training, our procedures and data entry mechanisms were improved, and our volunteer boards, including the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation Foundation, were enlisted to help us get the message out to our many residents. In the end, through a lot of hard work and extensive team work, the promotion was a true success. Over 3,700 new memberships were sold, 3,100 being adults (our target audience for this venture), and over $200,000 was generated in the course of six short hours.

Were there some minor hiccups? Of course. Lines were fairly long, and some residents did not wait due to other commitments on the weekend, yet overwhelmingly, our citizens voiced their appreciation of not only offering this great deal, but also extending a call to action for each and every one of them to become healthier and fit in the New Year. Sometimes it takes extreme pressure and overwhelming odds to unify as a team, and for this entire day, Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation was solely focused on customer service and our parks and recreation mission to improve the lives of our citizens through wellness and play.

I am always excited when I get a chance to speak with other fellow professionals throughout the state learn about their experiences and programs. This is an opportunity to share ours.

I don’t write this blog to gloat or to say how Virginia Beach is doing extraordinary things (even though I am extremely proud of my coworkers and their ability to create new programs and develop and renovate world class facilities), but it’s to share that just like some businesses hold one-day sales on Black Friday, your department can also employ those tactics just like we did. Our marketing division worked tirelessly to ensure the message was spread throughout our community and that this was a one-day, limited time offer.  Just like in business, scarcity creates demand and motivates individuals. 

Many of you hold one-day or weekend special events which draw hundreds or thousands into your area. Why couldn’t this happen for a program or a special parks and recreation offer? Start planning today and gear up for success….you might be surprised at the turnout and impact hundreds or thousands of your neighbors all in one day. 

I look forward to hearing about your success at LTI or in Roanoke at congress.

Michael Kalvort, CPRE is the Parks and Recreation Director of the City of Virginia Beach. He can be reached at 757-385-1122.