My Parks and Recreation Career Started When…

By Terri Stowers | Posted on September 24, 2013

The path to a career can be a varied one – from knowing exactly what you want to be when you grow up and pursuing that dream to stumbling into a career after an experience later in life.  Everyone has their story and Terri Stowers, park and recreation manager for Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation in North Carolina, shares her story and why it is influencing her to attend the NRPA’s Supervisors Management School this year.  Read on and see if you can relate to Terri’s story.

The truth be told, I stumbled into a career in recreation. Having grown up in a small town in West Virginia, I was not even aware of recreation as a field.  In fact, my career path began in business as a financial aid consultant and continued to teaching sixth grade.  It was the need to supplement my income as a teacher that led me to working as a summer camp counselor and then a temporary Recreation Center Attendant for Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation.  It was when a full-time position became available that my parks and recreation career began.  I am currently a Park and Recreation Manager, supervising six inner city recreation centers. 

In my 15 years with Mecklenburg County I have taken advantage of many training opportunities, but most of my education has come from trial and error.

I choose to attend NRPA’s Supervisors Management School because of my goals.             

My short-term goal is to be an effective leader who has a positive impact not only on staff but the organization as a whole. 

My management philosophy is to give my staff all the tools they need to be effective in their positions. The budget defines the tools I can purchase, but the knowledge I can share with them has only the constraints of my mind and leadership skills. Having a degree in elementary education, I often feel at a disadvantage when it comes to knowledge about the field of recreation. Supervisors Management School will allow me to not only learn from the presenters but also from my peers. 



As a manager, Terri Stowers wants to give her staff everything they need to be effective, including expanding her own knowledge and skills which is why she's attending Supervisors Management School.  

My long-term goal is to continue my career progression within Mecklenburg County. 

Our department went through a 50 percent budget reduction three years ago, yet we have continued to offer quality recreation programs and facilities to the citizens of our county. It is easy to be a leader during the good times, but it takes a true leader to lead you through the hard times. We are fortunate to have a great leader who has kept us focused on our goals while we dealt with losing half of our co-workers.  My hope is that through Supervisor Management School, I will gain the tools needed to become the type of leader who can lead my team through any situation and be able to continue the excellence of Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation.

I choose Supervisors Management School to help me meet my goals and I can’t wait to go. I’ll let you know how it all turned out. 

Stay tuned, we’ll have more from Terri as she attends Supervisors Management School in November.  In the meantime, share in the comments below about the goals you have in your career as a park and recreation professional.  How could attending Supervisors Management School help you attain the goals you have set? 


Editor’s Note: Supervisors Management School is a program designed to develop your management and supervisory skills and will help you gain a strong understanding of the principles of managing people. Registration is now open for the school which will be held November 3 – 7 at Ogelbay Resort and Conference Center in Wheeling, West Virginia.