One characteristic of successful park and recreation agencies is a commitment to continuous improvement through constant feedback and evaluation. Park and recreation leaders who engage with their communities can ensure the amenities and services their agencies offer meet the ever-evolving needs and desires of the public.
Over the past year, the NRPA research team has rolled out a suite of resources that help park and recreation leaders develop these feedback loops between their agencies and the communities they serve. Each of these resources provides your agency a roadmap to assess the success of its offerings with a focus on acting on the results.
The Green Infrastructure Evaluation Framework is one example. This online resource offers a collection of tools, research-informed analysis and worksheets that help park and recreation agency staff, local government officials and others evaluate and communicate the benefits of these projects to the public. The framework defines four different types of benefits from green infrastructure (GI) projects:
- Environmental benefits for water, air, land and wildlife located in and around your GI project area
- Health benefits for the physical and mental health of community members
- Social benefits focused on community cohesion and public safety, and the neighborhood’s increase in GI knowledge and use
- Economic benefits for the local workforce and neighborhood business development
The most direct way to measure the effectiveness and impact of your agency’s offerings is from immediate feedback from park and recreation users. While online tools make it easier than ever to conduct a survey, there is so much more to an actionable evaluation survey. For example, it is imperative to ask the “right” questions, to know how best to conduct the survey, to accurately analyze the data and to take meaningful action based on the response. The NRPA customer feedback surveys resource center helps park and recreation professionals meet this challenge with a series of fundamental principles and tips for conducting useful customer satisfaction surveys.
What We Do at NRPA
Event and Conference Surveys. NRPA embraces the notion of continual improvement of its offerings and services and relies on customer feedback to make this happen. As a result, we survey attendees at our in-person and online events to ensure they met or exceeded expectations and to identify opportunities for improvement. We also are developing new methodologies that will define the changing needs and desires of the field of parks and recreation.
Issue Tracking Survey. If you stopped by the NRPA membership center at the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference, we might have asked you to rate a set of park and recreation-related issues on the level of importance to you and your agency. This was the launch of a new research initiative, the Issues Tracking Survey, that will be a tool to ensure we are following the key challenges and opportunities facing park and recreation professionals and their agencies. Throughout the year, we will be sending out tracking surveys to a select number of NRPA members, asking them to rate a set of issues. Your response will help us prioritize our efforts in education, publications, public policy and research as we advocate for high-quality parks and recreation throughout our nation.
2020 Membership Survey. We ask that you keep an eye out for an NRPA email during February, inviting you to participate in a broad membership survey. This survey will gather your thoughts on your agency’s mission, the most significant challenges affecting your career and ways NRPA serves as a professional resource. The questionnaire also will focus on your awareness and satisfaction with various NRPA offerings and services. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey, since your feedback will play a pivotal role not only for the future of NRPA, but also for parks and recreation as a whole.
Kevin Roth is NRPA's Vice President of Professional Development, Research and Technology.