Marketing gurus, save the date — the 2014 Brand+Aid Marketing & Social Media Conference is set for January 22–23 in Grand Prairie, Texas. The event features presentations by nine seasoned marketing professionals, who will share insights to help even the most experienced marketing professionals in the industry. The two-day event will offer targeted strategies specifically aimed at public park and recreation organizations and the people who sing their praises. To register or learn more, visit the conference's website.
Ready access to parks and outdoor recreation opportunities is making a big difference in the economic viability of several western states. Colorado, Montana and Utah, to name but a few, have enjoyed an entrepreneurial boom in sectors like energy, technology and finance during the past 40 years. Influential CEOs aren’t shy about pointing to those areas’ natural assets as major deciding factors in deciding where to establish or relocate their businesses. “Like many other folks starting and growing businesses in Colorado in other sectors of the economy such as technology and innovation, I have chosen to locate my business here because of the access to our beautiful mountains, streams and quality of life,” said Greg Heil, founder and CEO of Encoding.com, in a recent interview with CQ Roll Call.
In Kansas, Lawrence-Douglas County is taking an active role in the health and wellness of visitors to its city-owned recreation facilities. Municipal leaders have introduced new nutrition standards that must be achieved by any food or beverage provider that wishes to contract with the county. This fall, officials announced the requirement that at least half of all offered concessions be acceptably low in calories, fat and sugar content. Concessions operators must also offer at least one fresh fruit or vegetable and healthy beverages like water, fat-free milk or 100 percent fruit or vegetable juices. Additionally, those healthy options must be comparably priced to their less-healthy counterparts.
Members of the DeSoto, Texas, Parks and Recreation Department are enjoying a nice pat on the back for their innovative programming offerings. The group received the 2013 Excellence in Programming Award from the Texas Recreation and Parks Society in recognition of DeSoto’s annual Fro Fest. The accolade is awarded to an ongoing program that has been offered for two or more years. Fro Fest is a joint venture between the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and Nappiology Inc., which promotes African-American heritage, natural hair, and physical and emotional health. The popular Fro Fest features a 5K walk, nutrition classes, and exercise and wellness demonstrations, and it has drawn more than 1,200 participants in the past, according to city officials.
The November issue of Parks & Recreation examined the many problems parks experience with nuisance wildlife, and employees at Riverside, California’s Riverwalk Park are getting a firsthand taste of this issue as they attempt to repair damage from a herd of feral pigs. The unwelcome porcine visitors caused thousands of dollars in damages this October as they tore up green spaces in search of grubs and other snacks. Park staff said it will take some time to restore the usually lush lawns to their former glory. In the meantime, they’ve appealed to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for permits to allow trapping and bow hunting of the pigs, as well as examined options to erect protective fencing around the most vulnerable park lands.
Cleveland, Tennessee’s, Parks and Recreation Department had extra cause to celebrate during the holiday season after the agency was recognized by the state for its outstanding management practices. As a result, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) will include Cleveland in its benchmarking program as an example of best management practices and operations of which similar departments should take note. Cleveland received the Tier II designation for midsize cities, which will remain in effect for five years. In making its determination, TDEC examined department practices and policies, manuals, buildings and grounds, volunteers and staff. The benchmark designation is the culmination of a year of work by the city department, according to department officials.
An Ohio student has taken it upon himself to repopulate tree stands across the state. Delaware Area Career Center junior Jens Spaglialunga began growing saplings at his home in 2012, and as the trees mature, he’s peppering the Ohio countryside with bur oaks, swamp white oaks, black willows and other native species. After joining his school’s Wetlands Management Program, Spaglialunga took an interest in nature and, specifically, trees, saying he hopes to make a career in forestry. In the meantime, Spaglialunga is staying busy working with area towns and landowners to grow and plant as many trees as possible. “I take joy in re-establishing these trees…it’s very easy to grow your own, and there are a lot of different trees out there that have all different characteristics that grow in this area,” he says.
Hagerstown, Maryland, residents will soon enjoy a new feature at their local park, now that city council members have approved the commissioning of a sculpture of two black bears to be placed in the City Park Lake. The artwork is titled “The Fishing Lesson,” and it depicts a mother bear teaching her cub to fish. The sculptor is local artist Paul Rhymer, based in Point of Rocks, Maryland. The project’s full cost is estimated at $22,000, and project organizers have obtained state-level grants and private donations to fund the artwork, as well as a $2,000 contribution from the City of Hagerstown, which will cover printing and distribution of an accompanying children’s book based on the sculpture.
The Somerset County Park Foundation has memorialized the historic growth of the New Jersey county’s park system in a new book titled Natural Beauty: Somerset County Parks by Clifford W. Zink. The volume includes some 425 illustrations and anecdotes focused on the 57-year history of the Somerset County Park Commission (SCPC). The story begins back in 1956, when a group of concerned businessmen and political leaders founded the commission with hopes of better controlling the area’s urban growth. After a year of diligent work, SCPC was established, along with its visionary plan to preserve open space and provide recreational opportunities for the public. Since that time, public officials and professional staff have implemented and expanded the plan into a countywide network of 26 parks encompassing more than 13,500 acres.