Session Highlights

The 2018 NRPA Annual Conference will include hundreds of inspirational education sessions presented by top speakers both inside and outside of the industry. These sessions are categorized into 12 distinct education tracks to help you easily determine the sessions that will meet your needs. Below is a list detailing a few of the top sessions that will be featured from each track. Browse the complete education schedule.


  • Open or CloseAdvocacy

    Advocacy by Design: Innovations in Parks and Public Places for Building Diverse Constituencies
    Format: Panel Session | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Gia Biagi, Alexa Bush, Carol Coletta, Demetrius Lambert-Falconer, Kathryn Ott Lovell
    Description: This session explores ongoing efforts in Akron, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis and Philadelphia to reinvent how cities and local organizations engage people in improving, programming and maintaining civic assets.

    For Better or For Worse: The Pursuit of Equitable Recreation
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Debbie Woodbury, Tori Spaugh Darensburg
    Description: To meet the changing needs of the community, it is imperative to create diverse and attractive programs and resources. Socioeconomic barriers must be addressed and eliminated to reflect our personal and professional values. Let's be intentional in the pursuit of equitable and inclusive opportunities for all.

    State of the Art of Parkland Dedication Ordinances
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: John Crompton
    Description: Parkland dedication ordinances are arguably the most underused potential source of capital funding in the parks and recreation field. The session will report results of analyses of 50 parkland dedication ordinances in Texas and ordinances of the 40 cities among the U.S.'s 100 largest cities that have such ordinances.

    The Legacy of Fred
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Tim Fulton, Seve Ghose, Layla George
    Description: Frederick Law Olmsted was critical in the development of both municipal and national parks in America. Working with the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, much work has been done to restore, enhance, and revitalize Louisville parks. Learn about challenges to this process, and what the future holds for these parks.

  • Open or CloseAquatics

    Heroes on Deck: Dismantling the Lifeguard Bystander Effect
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Rachel Griffiths, Tom Griffiths
    Description: The Bystander Effect is the phenomenon that the more people present the less likely each is to help. Within the Bystander Effect, there are four significant barriers to action. This presentation will explore barriers to action and discuss strategies to more effectively address the Bystander Effect at aquatic facilities for swifter rescues.

    There Is No Place Like the Pool: Universally Appealing Watertainment & Wellness
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Craig Bouck, Douglass Whiteaker
    Description: From liquid gyms to water aerobics and casual lap swim to competitive meets, the pool can be the most dynamic and revenue-generating space within a recreation center. Learn about new and exciting aquatics design elements for more fun and increased revenue potential, plus understand ideas that will have an immediate impact on the aquatic programming in your facility.

    Keeping it Safe. Designing a Safe Spray Park
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Bill Hachmeister
    Description: The session will cover the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) ASTM, NSF and how they pertain to your area. The session will reveal spray park features and the lack of practice implementing Certified Playground Safety Standards, ASTM playground standards and IPEMA standards in the design process.

    Stress to Success-Training Lifeguards Using Military Science
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Becky Herz
    Description: Discover how to use stress to your advantage by exploring and learning military training philosophies. With the aquatics industry consistently hiring high school and college students, we have to constantly think of new ways to train our staff perform successfully in emergency situations. This session gives trainers a deeper understanding of aquatic in-service training techniques from a scientific perspective.

  • Open or CloseCareer Development

    Are you a Rockstar or a Cover Band? – The Choice is Yours
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Wade Walcutt, Tim Moloney
    Description: In this fast paced and highly participatory session, attendees will hear how they can avoid the pitfalls of not setting yourself apart. While "vision" and "risk taking" are commonly used terms, this session will provide real life strategies and techniques, along with humorous examples, to implement these skills.

    Intentional Mentoring: Learning and Connecting for Professional Evolution
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Teresa Penbrooke
    Description: Moving forward professionally requires evolving in your knowledge, skills, competencies, and connections. Having good mentors in your life helps support and target your growth. Learning how to best be a mentor later in life helps you give back and leave a strong legacy. This session covers what you need to know to do all of this.

    Young Professionals and The Dreaded Interview
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Edward Mathews, Lakita Watson
    Description: This session will provide students and young professionals with an introduction to successful interviewing skills, appropriate appearance, demeanor, actions, and networking accord. Participants will practice newly learned skills, while avoiding common pitfalls, to gain valuable feedback on their interviewing and networking abilities. Participants will develop their own “60-second pitch” to better market themselves.

  • Open or CloseConservation

    Listening to the Land: Using Natural Resources to Guide Park Development
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Chris Matthews
    Description: This session will outline a process that may assist agencies in making good decisions on park development based on natural plant communities, topography, hydrography and other natural features.

    Partnering with Land Trusts
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Kristina Ortez, Michele White, Rob Aldrich
    Description: Session participants will hear from the Land Trust Alliance's Director of Community Conservation on the valuable role that land trusts can play in helping to meet park equity goals. Taos Land Trust will share lessons learned from their effort to create a new community park that will provide opportunities for cultural education and recreation, restore a critical floodplain property, and bring together diverse populations.

    Utilizing Citizen Science to Reach Your Natural Resource Objectives
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Brittany Davis, Tom Swinford
    Description: This is a great session for park managers who want to increase their conservation efforts, but are limited by a tight budget. Brittany Davis-Swinford (Indy Parks) and Tom Swinford (IDNR), will fill you in on the many citizen science projects they have coordinated within their combined forty years of resource management.

  • Open or CloseEmployee & Volunteer Management

    From Orientation to Onboarding: Making the Most of the First 90 Days
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Kirsten Barnes
    Description: Getting new talent started in their job as quickly as possible is important for the health of your business. By creating a welcoming environment, building cultural buy-in, and sharing tribal knowledge, you not only improve the chances of new hire success but create loyalty and have a little fun!

    Motivate. Educate. Elevate. Your Employee Training Program is About to get Mobile Crowdsourced.
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Dori Tilko
    Description: Crowdsourcing is an interactive public participation and engagement process that turns to the public to solve problems with a call to action. Featured best practices using mobile crowdsourcing content in environmental protection training program development along with an interactive hands-on activity to apply this technique to your conservation efforts.

    Onboarding for Optimal Outcomes
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Jessica Livingston
    Description: Data shows that 25% of the US population experiences a career transition each year. Half of all hourly employees leave within the first four months, and half of upper-level external hires are gone within 18 months. This session will cover the benefits of onboarding, the difference between onboarding and orientation, best practice tips, and you’ll leave with an onboarding toolkit, and more!

    Organize and Develop your Staff Trainings to Maximize Retention and Performance
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Keith Fulthorp, Laurel Richmond
    Description: Seasonal, part-time, and entry level full time staff require large amounts of intentionally planned training in order to develop the skills necessary to complete their daily job responsibilities. In this session participants will review the challenges with effective training, identify employee performance gaps, and review tips to develop quality staff training in order to improve performance.

  • Open or CloseHealth & Wellness

    Aging Mastery Program: Engaging Older Adults in Your Community
    Format: Panel Session | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Michelle Alexander, Emily McDonald
    Description: This session will focus on an overview of the Aging Mastery Program® (AMP), how the program works, the evidence base for AMP, and how the program has been implemented. We will discuss opportunities for bringing AMP to your community.

    Green Schoolyards Meet Health and Shared Use: Opportunities for Partnerships
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: David Marquardt, Jaime Zaplatosch, Meg Kelly
    Description: Many cities are looking to add more park space through shared use agreements with school districts so that their residents have parks within a 10 minute walk. This lecture will define green schoolyards, their benefits and unlikely partners, and highlight the newly launched Green Schoolyards Resource Hub. Participants will learn how they might develop their own program.

    Empowering Youth Impacted by the Opioid Crisis: Providing a Safe, Supportive Environment at Your Rec Centers
    Format: Panel Session | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Karen Johnson, Kellie May, Tiffany Nelson, Nick Pirelli, Michele Strasser
    Description: The opioid epidemic has created new challenges for the parks and recreation field. In this session you will learn strategies to manage the opioid epidemic and prevent substance use in parks, including recreation programs that offer a safe space for youth to build relationships.

    Transition from Recreation Center to Centers of Health and Wellness: A Public Private Partnership
    Format: Panel Session | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Donald Wesson, Crystal Ross
    Description: This session will highlight what happens when a local health care system and a park and recreation department "collide" for the benefit of community health. Learn how this type of partnership can address chronic disease (high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes) in a metropolitan community.

  • Open or CloseLeadership & Management

    Assessing the Economic Impact of Special Events
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Terry Clower
    Description: This session will focus on assessing the impacts of special events. Instructors for this session will use case studies to improve understanding of how to measure these impacts so that local leaders will have the data they need to understand the importance of park system-hosted special events.

    Being Successful in a Politically Charged Environment
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Paul Romero
    Description: This session focuses on the "what" and "why" of the political process. But, truly the road to success is based on "who" is involved in the process and the power they bring to the "table". Knowing the political process is critical; making change is vital to leadership and success.

    Elevate Your Game
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Jamie Sabbach
    Description: We know our end game should be focused on providing exceptional experiences to communities of people and the effort we put in to get there must include thoughtful preparation and planning, smart management and decision making, and elevated performance standards.

    Leading vs. Managing: Teambuilding on a $25 Budget
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Tiffany Johnson, Dietrich Williams
    Description: This session will present low-cost training, portable team building activities, virtual team building and a humorous training game for use in your organization. Effective team building means more engaged employees.

  • Open or ClosePlanning, Design & Maintenance

    Going Off-Leash: Planning, Designing and Maintaining Outstanding Dog Parks
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Curtis LaPierre
    Description: This session will examine the advantages of a well-designed dog park including positive dog behavior, visitor satisfaction and community benefits. Participants will learn about maintenance considerations, working with volunteers, managing a dog park project and more.

    Keeping up with Capital Replacements: Crawl, Walk, Run
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Keith Hobson
    Description: Funding for replacing aging assets can be overwhelming, especially in an environment of resource scarcity. This session will provide guidance on how to create a replacement funding strategy. Participants will learn about measuring and projecting needs, prioritizing funding of current replacements, and building reserves.

    Parks in Changing Communities
    Format: Panel Session | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Adrian Benepe, Eric Tamulonis, Diane Allen, Janelle Johnson
    Description: Looking at park design projects at multiple scales, from the individual park to the connected park system, this session will consider the tough questions of whose change, what is changing, and what role do parks and designers play in this process.

    Turn Your Rec Center into a Tech Center
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Craig Bouck, Mick Massey
    Description: How do you keep your recreation center cutting-edge? This session focuses on the many ways technology impacts your center and how to successfully plan for its integration. Covering all programmed areas of a building, this session presents ideas on how to utilize technology to change the way people use a recreation center.

  • Open or ClosePublic Relations & Marketing

    Video Storytelling: Let's Make A Video Today!
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Becky Dunlap
    Description: Did you know that YouTube reaches more 18 – 49 year olds than any cable network in the United States? In this session, we will learn about the tools and apps to get you started with video storytelling. We will walk through the steps of planning your video, creating your storyboard, and getting footage.

    When Disaster Strikes: Making Your Agency Shine During the Storm
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Cheryl Michelet
    Description: When disaster strikes how can park and recreation agencies get their stories in the media? Learn how BREC's Communications team communicated the story to the Baton Rouge community during and after the Flood of 2016, using social media, daily news releases, web updates and internal messages.

  • Open or CloseRecreation & Sports Programming

    Follow the "TRACKS" to Dynamic Outdoor Programming!
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Jodie Adams, Hobie Hare
    Description: This session will offer examples and ideas of successful nature and outdoor programming for various segments of our society, from LGBTQ populations to students and educators. Explore programming possibilities ranging from day-long options to overnight stays in natural and other recreational settings.

    More Recreation Program Hacks: 60+ Ideas in 60 Minutes
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Elisabeth Weaver
    Description: The session will feature an introduction to military recreation and new and innovative programming ideas that are being done at military installations around the world. Participants will be invited to contribute their best program ideas to the rest of the group, providing an opportunity for networking and sharing of best practices.

    Pickleball Problem Solving
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Shane Wampler
    Description: Pickleball has become one of the fastest growing sports in the country. Participants will learn about strategies for identifying and correcting common problem behaviors with open Pickleball play, strategies for adding Pickleball courts, and hear about strategies for growing existing Pickleball programs.

    The Psychology of Working With Today's Sports Parents, Coaches, and Athletes
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Joel Fish
    Description: This session will identify myths and facts in working with today's youth sports parents, coaches, and athletes. Participants will learn about psychological strategies that can be used to work with a variety of personality types.

  • Open or CloseResearch

    Designing and Building Playgrounds for Children of All Abilities
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Eric Schmidt, Tina Stanton-Chapman
    Description: This session will discuss the most effective and reliable strategies for incorporating the Principles of Universal Design in inclusive playground development to maximize play value and meet the needs of all children. The presenters will discuss their research studies and present evidence-based playground examples.

    Making Space: Optimistic Strategies for Addressing Urban Homelessness in Parks and Recreation
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Brice Maryman, Cindy Mendoza
    Description: Session attendees will explore strategies to simultaneously improve the life of those experiencing homelessness while also improving public's perception of their open spaces. Participants will brainstorm ways that their departments can improve parks and recreation offerings to address this challenging problem.

    Show Me The Data: Using Data, Research, & Analytics to Support Your Parks and Recreation Work
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Aaron Perri, Alexandra Hiple
    Description: The Trust for Public Land's Center for City Park Excellence (CCPE)and the City of South Bend's Department of Venues, Parks, & Arts will talk about the role for research, data, and analytics in the parks world and how these tools can be used to successfully make the case to communities and local government in support of your parks and recreation system.

    The National Study of Neighborhood Parks: Infrastructure and Programming Impacts on Park Use and Perceptions
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Deborah Cohen
    Description: This session will describe the research findings of the National Study of Neighborhood Parks. Park quality was rated high by park users and there were few differences between the perceptions of park users in high and low income area parks. Facilities attracting more users include walking loops, splash pads, and playground equipment that spins.

  • Open or CloseRevenue & Customer Service

    Get Out of the (Rule) Box. Stop Thinking Like a Municipal Employee
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Kirsten Barnes, Rich DiGirolamo
    Rules. Policies. Procedures. These are things that get in the way of doing what you do best - creating great guest moments and experiences. Learn about those who have broken the rules, ignored policy and DIDN'T get into trouble. Discover when, if, and how you might need to get comfortable with being a rule breaker too!

    How to Build a Culture of Guest Service Excellence
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Neelay Bhatt, Lindsay Labas
    Description: In many agencies, customer service is often "good enough for government." Discover secrets to build your culture of customer service excellence. Learn how to create employee happiness and buy-in, invest in your customers, and train staff properly, and track improvement using technology and data..

    How to Raise Prices without Making Users Mad
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: John Crompton
    Description: The session will apply behavioral economic principles to the pricing of park and recreation services. The essential concepts of adaptation level theory, assimilation-contrast theory, reference price theory, and prospect theory which provide the framework for these principles will be explained.

    I Spy Excellent Service: A Customer Service Codebook
    Format: Interactive Lecture | CEU Credits: 0.1
    Speakers: Annie Olson, Iris Pahlberg Peterson
    Description: Is providing great service Mission Impossible? Crack the code to five common customer service mishaps through application of recovery strategies. Become a member of the inner circle of exceptional service, and identify your opportunities to improve service delivery. Leave with your own codebook that allows you to best meet the needs of a diverse customer base.