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


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. 

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: 

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

Monday, October 17, 2016

This is Number 100

by Nancy Turnage

Member Services Coordinator
VRPS Central Office

I was hired in 2012 to promote VRPS on the social media front:  connecting VRPS to the world of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the like, but more importantly tying in the VRPS membership with their organization on a more personal level.  The first thing I did was create this - the blog.  Blogs are great for a number of reasons, but on behalf of VRPS, they could help give members a snapshot of the personality of the Society, because the organization is much more than memberships, conferences, and education sessions - but is a collection of people, skill sets, networking, and common goals.

It has been a long, slow process to engage the membership in the blog.  I can't really say that it's terribly measurable even now.  What I can say with certainty is that (1) the VRPS membership is dynamic and has loads (and loads) of great stories to share, and (2) VRPS has some really talented writers out there.  In the past year, we have had blog post submissions from around the state, and each of them is unique and refreshing.  I must admit that I've not been shy about asking for posts - some comply and send me one, and some don't.  But either way, it's a tally mark in the win column.

This is post #100.  Since 2012, much has changed in the world, and in the VRPS world.  My position no longer allows for me to dedicate the time to social media that I once did, but the membership has "picked up the slack".  Posts are getting liked and shared, blogs are rolling in, and VRPS is projecting a personality.  It's your society; it's your stage.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Dog Swim Days

First Ever Dog Swim Days for two agencies in Reston, VA:

Dog Daze at the Water Mine Family Swimmin' Hole, Fairfax County Park Authority, September 11, 2016

Dog Paddle at Dogwood Pool, Reston Association, August 27 2016