After 32 years with California’s Hayward Area Recreation and Park District (H.A.R.D.), the largest recreation district in the state, Rita Shue retired from her position as general manager earlier this year, although she’s certainly not letting her golden years go to waste. An NRPA member since the late 1970s and a graduate of the first class of NRPA’s Directors’ School, Shue continues to be an active voice on NRPA’s Program Committee and in the Administrators and Special Parks Districts networks on NRPA Connect.
As a retired park and recreation professional, how and why do you remain active in the field?
I’m going to continue for awhile on NRPA’s Program Committee, and there’s also an association of special districts in California—I’m going to volunteer to get involved in that. Also, I just signed up for my first class at the local [H.A.R.D.-run] senior center, so I will be participating in the things I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to help create. It’s something I really believe in…It’s a way of life. I get much more out of it than the work I can do.
Looking back on your 32 years working in parks and recreation, what advice do you have for professionals entering the field today?
I’m a big proponent of training, education, and taking advantage of those opportunities, whether it’s attending a conference or a training session, reading a newsletter or a website, or just talking to your colleagues. Also, I would strongly encourage new professionals to get a variety of experiences. Specialties are great, but they can lock you in, so you need to try new things. Get involved in your local associations, your programs, and your community. Be a strong partner with the community your agency is in. We’re a big part of the community, so make sure you’re at the table.
Interview by Danielle Taylor, Associate Editor, Parks & Recreation (email@example.com).