Two Words: Inner Drive

By Daniel J. Stencil | Posted on February 5, 2013

Those two words have defined me my entire life and driven my decisions in both my personal and work lives. I enjoy learning new things and pushing myself to see what I can accomplish.

A recent goal I had was to achieve status as a Certified Park and Recreation Executive. The four letters that now follow my job title, CPRE, are the outward proof that I’m trying to be the best recreation professional that I can be.


CPRE Blog by Dan Stencil

Dan Stencil, CPRE, Executive Officer, Oakland County Parks

Photo credit:Jonathan Schechter of the Oakland Press

One of my team members, Business Development Representative Phil Castonia and I worked through the certification process together. For an “under 40” employee like Phil, achieving certification is an excellent opportunity for greater career opportunities and advancement. 

As part of the first class of certified executive individuals, I was examined on knowledge in all aspects of general administration, programming and operations management for parks and recreation professionals. Basically, the test covered knowledge that I’ve collected over my 35 years in the profession. The various positions I’ve held over the years gave me a breadth and depth of knowledge and the certification tested that experience plus expanded my skill set and knowledge base.

In fact, I’ve been so impressed with the lessons I’ve learned from the certification process that I’m challenging my staff to become certified in their areas of expertise. I think it’s important to demonstrate your commitment to the profession, your fellow employees and peers in the field.

What I like most about the idea of being certified is that I can benchmark the accomplishments at the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission against national standard management practices. When you know what your peers are doing and have an understandable goal to aim for, it makes goal setting and decision making easier. You ask yourself, “What is the standard, where do I and my organization fall within the parks and recreation profession and what do we need to do to be on par with our peers”?

What personal mottos inspire or drive you in your personal and professional goals? In what ways have you recently challenged yourself? How do you feel after you have accomplished a tough goal? 

Written by: Daniel J. Stencil, CPRE, Executive Officer, Oakland County Parks, MI 


Editor's note: If you are interested in achieving your Certified Park and Recreation Executive certification, now is a great time. The 100th professional to pass the CPRE Examination will win 3.0 CEUs of NRPA Online Learning to use on their CPRE Renewal Requirement.  The 100th CPRE will be announced this spring, and the professional will receive the free CEU package including Congress Live (totaling 1.0 CEU) and NRPA Online Learning Courses (totaling 2.0 CEU).

For questions or further information on certification, please email