It is Never Too Late to Challenge Yourself

By Rod Tarullo | Posted on June 6, 2013

Are you ever amazed at how quickly time passes by? Before you know it, you’ve been in your career for 10, 15, 20, 30 years! And sometimes when we start hitting the upper echelon of years, we may default to the old adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks when thinking about our professional or even personal life.  To that we say “Phooey!”

This guest blog post written by Rod Tarullo, CPRE, Director of Parks, Recreation, and Golf in the City of Golden, Colorado blows the roof off that old thought and demonstrates how someone well into their career can take on new challenges such as a new certification opportunity (CPRE). 

Seems like not long ago, rumors were flying about possible changes in our certification program.  I was delighted to hear that a new level of professional certification was in the works.  I have been in the parks and recreation field for more than 30 years.  Early in my career, I sought after and received Certified Leisure Professional (CLP) status.  This was eventually replaced by the current Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP).  When the Certified Park and Recreation Executive (CPRE) became available I considered it a personal challenge to be one of the first to attain this newly created level of certification.  

I quickly realized that if I wanted to achieve this goal, I would need to step up and re-engage to do some things that I haven’t done in a very long time.  


Rod Tarullo, CPRE, clearly is not afraid of a challenge. He went for his CPRE despite being several years removed from taking tests and studying.


This included requesting and receiving college transcripts.  The university had not changed locations so it was relatively easy to track down the records office.  I was glad that I was actually able to make my request over the internet.  I don’t think the internet existed when I first tested.  I could not believe that they keep those records so long!  Interesting how my GPA has not gotten any better even with the passage of time.  

Another re-engagement for me was preparing for the exam.  I had not taken a test of this depth and magnitude in a very, very long time. What if I failed the exam, putting my ego on line? Could I pass this test?  I would never know unless I tried.  I knew in the back of my mind that NRPA doesn’t announce or advertise the names of those who do not pass the exam, thank goodness!  

When I initially got my certification, I found that the study material was very broad and vague.  I think that the exam preparation materials now are much better and continue to evolve.  I found the actual testing process stimulating and fun (what!?).  Watching the clock to be sure I could finish in time added to the suspense. I found the questions covered pertinent areas for my job responsibilities.  Some were a challenge because in my opinion there were good, better and best answers in the multiple choice process. As I left the testing area I could not believe that I had actually sat down and taken a test lasting almost two hours. Where did the time go?  

Why would I do all this?  For me I wanted to see if I had the experience and aptitude to accomplish this goal.  I also had been encouraging our department staff to consider professional certification.  This was a way that I could further walk the walk and not just talk the talk.  I was willing to once again face the challenges of certification at a mature time in my life and career.

Was it worth it?  You bet! I achieved my goal, gained a sense of accomplishment, impressed my staff, added some new letters behind my signature, and initiated interesting conversations with my peers about the process.  Will there be another new certification level in the future?  I hope so.  Time will tell. 

What new challenges do you give yourself to keep you fresh in your career?  How do you keep current on the latest advancements in parks and recreation? 

Editor’s Note: We are just NINE away from the 100th Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRE). Remember, the 100th CPRE to complete the CPRE Examination will receive 3.0 CEUs of FREE NRPA online learning opportunities. 


If you have any questions about becoming certified as a CPRP or CPRE, please email our certification team.