Are You Taking Advantage of NRPA’s Volunteer Opportunities?

By Jay Tryon, CPRP | Posted on June 7, 2024

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Pictured: Jay Tryon, CPRP, the deputy director for City of Concord Parks & Recreation.

Being a park and recreation professional is the greatest profession out there. I can say that because I continuously see the impact we have on communities around the country and people from all walks of life. One of the reasons that our profession has a profound impact is because of volunteers. Every agency in the country relies on volunteers in some capacity; youth sports coaches, community garden advocates, park ambassadors, program instructors or maybe even people to clean up your greenway occasionally. But, did you know that there are a variety of volunteer opportunities that NRPA offers? If you have not taken advantage of some of these opportunities, you are truly missing out on experiences that can change your life.

Volunteering with NRPA Networks

I have been very fortunate to get involved in a variety of volunteer roles over the last two decades. My first volunteer involvement with NRPA was with the Young Professional Network (YPN). I am truly indebted to the YPN and will always support the network as long as I can. It is within this network that I have met some of my closest friends that I now call my “YP family.” This network was there for me during every challenge I faced earlier in my career, then I volunteered to lead this network and help others overcome challenges. 

Volunteering for the NRPA Annual Conference

Another volunteer role I held was to assist with the NRPA Annual Conference. This conference is the largest annual gathering of park and recreation professionals. These days every fall consist of thousands of people who understand the impact that we make daily. Volunteering during this week helped me cement my role as an attendee. As a volunteer, I served as a room host. It was at this time that I faced my fear of public speaking, but also gained a passion to be in front of people and share what I love. Without having this opportunity, I would not have gained the experience and confidence needed to eventually submit education sessions to conferences.

Currently, I serve on the Conference Program Committee. This committee is responsible for reviewing and selecting all of the sessions that are presented each year at the NRPA Annual Conference. The committee consists of professionals from around the country who have knowledge in all aspects of our profession. Volunteering on this committee is extremely impactful and has provided so much for me professionally and personally. Knowing that I have been able to play a vital role in planning the upcoming conference is an incredible feeling. There is a sense of pride that is felt amongst this committee each year when the conference comes to an end and we hear such positive feedback about the sessions that people attended. This pride then leads to a desire to carry it over for the next year. 

Volunteering for CAPRA

One of the greatest achievements an agency can acquire is CAPRA Accreditation. The CAPRA Commission is built around several volunteers and aims to serve as the governing body over the accreditation process and instill standards needed for agencies across the country. It was an absolute honor to serve this committee for six years, amongst some of the brightest professionals in our profession. During this time, I was able to review other agencies around the country and ensure that they followed best practices. Another component of volunteering within the commission is providing various training to current and future reviewers.

When I think about some of my favorite and most impactful memories in our profession over the last two decades, I realize that so many of them are tied to volunteering in some capacity. Because of these opportunities and the willingness that so many of us have made to volunteer, I truly believe that parks and recreation is the greatest profession out there.

To learn about more volunteer opportunities with NRPA, click here.

Jay Tryon, CPRP, is the deputy director for City of Concord Parks & Recreation.