For an enhanced digital experience, read this story in the ezine.
My name is Brooke Adams, CPRP. I am an administrative assistant and a Certified Park and Recreation Professional — CPRP. Those four letters mean the world to me.
Starting at the age of three, I worked for my dad’s business. He is an artist and our family traveled all over the country working every car show, air show, horse show, dog show and state fair you could imagine. Growing up in the family business, I had the unique experience of being involved with customer service and administrative work almost my entire life. Due to the traveling nature of the business, my siblings and I were homeschooled. As traveling homeschoolers, parks were a frequent outlet for us, and recreation programming provided much-needed socialization with our peers. I always loved participating in park programming and was thrilled to be able to spend my high school years working as a lifeguard for my hometown parks and recreation department. When the opportunity presented itself to pair my passion for customer service and administrative work with the park and recreation profession, I knew I had found my calling.
I had the opportunity to attend my first NRPA Annual Conference in 2018. My department was named a finalist for the Gold Medal Award, and as a part of my department’s Gold Medal Application Committee, I was able to attend. Engaging with other professionals from across the country and attending the high-caliber sessions further fueled my passion for my work. I knew at that point that I wanted to do something to increase my knowledge of the field, as well as make myself a more valuable asset to my department. I was aware of the CPRP certification and its importance, but I was unsure about my eligibility. I am a front-line staff member. As an administrative assistant, I am the person who ensures that my park and recreation department runs efficiently and effectively on a daily basis. Due to my position and lack of a field-related degree, I felt unqualified and was quite nervous to apply. However, after researching the process and receiving encouragement from my director, I was excited to learn that I met the minimum requirements for the certification based on my years of experience in the field and my job responsibilities. I then received the notification that I had been approved to move forward with the exam.
The process of studying for the exam was arduous yet exhilarating. In each section I was able to learn something new and recall a situation in which I could apply the knowledge. I also was able to build my confidence in my existing knowledge, as there were many things I already knew. Wanting to take the exam as soon as possible, I scheduled it for a date just six weeks after I received the study materials. I spent every free moment reading, studying and absorbing as much information as humanly possible. The day of the exam, I pictured the woman at the testing center letting me know as gently as possible that I had failed. Though I had spent countless hours preparing, the test itself seemed difficult in the moment and I felt wholly unprepared; but I passed! Reflecting on the experience, I believe that it would have been difficult to pass the test without my baseline knowledge of the industry.
CPRP — those four small letters mean the world to me. I didn’t hesitate to add them to my signature line, and I have to stop myself from pointing them out to anyone who passes by. The application, studying and even the test-taking portion of the whole CPRP experience gave me a confidence boost.
I would encourage anyone to look at the criteria and take the time to pursue the certification. It has elevated my position, and it elevates the standards for front-line staff in our department as a whole.
My name is Brooke Adams, CPRP. Please don’t forget those four letters after my name.
Brooke Adams, CPRP, is Administrative Assistant at Waukesha (Wisconsin) Parks, Recreation and Forestry (firstname.lastname@example.org).