The Value of Continuing Education for Today’s Park and Recreation Professional

July 27, 2023, Department, by Michael A. Kanters, Ph.D., and Taylor Jeromos

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In today’s highly competitive job market, it’s more important than ever to stay up to date with the latest knowledge and skills. Most park and recreation professionals are familiar with learning opportunities offered by NRPA and state associations through conferences, online learning, and in-person workshops and seminars. However, some of the most impactful continuing education experiences occur at professional development schools. These intensive onsite multiday learning experiences — taught by park and recreation practitioners and professionals — give participants the opportunity to learn the latest methods for effective park and recreation management to address today’s challenges.

NRPA partners with the Oglebay National Training Center and North Carolina State University to offer Park and Recreation Maintenance Management School (PRMMS) (sponsored by The Toro Company), Supervisors’ Management School, and Revenue Development and Management School. NRPA also offers Event Management School (EMS), operated in partnership with the International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA), and Directors School (sponsored by The Toro Company), operated independently by NRPA. Each provides unique opportunities for professional development and continued learning.

Park and Recreation Maintenance Management School

City of Kettering (Ohio) Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Parks Service Worker III Antony Brown, CPRP, completed PRMMS and reaped myriad benefits. He shares:

“Attending PRMMS was a wonderful opportunity and has forever left a mark on me. I have worked in the parks industry for [more than] 20 years and have spent the entirety of that time working in the field. Recently, I developed a strong desire to seek a management role. Attending PRMMS allowed me to get one step closer to achieving this goal.

“Years 1 and 2 of the program focused on developing quality maintenance standards and techniques related to park planning, development and operations. Year 3 of the program allowed us to explore who we are as individual leaders and the positive impact we can make on colleagues and within our respective organizations.”

Supervisors’ Management School

City of Douglasville (Georgia) Director of Parks and Recreation Chris Bass, CPRP, values the positive impact Supervisors’ Management School had on his career:

“Supervisors’ Management School has been a tremendous value to my professional career. The instructors were knowledgeable and engaging, giving us the opportunity to learn more about what it truly means to serve in a supervisory capacity. The staff at Oglebay — where the school was hosted — were collaborative, helpful and enthusiastic.

“One of the biggest benefits of attending an in-person school is networking. Because you spend several days learning and gathering with your fellow attendees, you are given the chance to get to know people from a variety of places and life experiences. I attended Supervisors' Management School [more than] eight years ago, and I still reach out to colleagues [who] I met during my time there. Hands down, attending this professional development school was one of the best decisions I made for my career in parks and recreation.”

Event Management School

Indian Trail (North Carolina) Parks and Recreation Director Hayden P. Kramer explains how EMS enhanced his career:

“The IFEA/NRPA EMS is an amazing opportunity! Festivals and events are an essential part of the fabric of our communities. EMS provides both a solid events-focused foundation for new event professionals and allows seasoned professionals to examine how to take a festival or event to the next level.

“In addition to learning from some of the leading industry professionals, the networking connections are second to none. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to spend an entire week getting to know other festival and event professionals.

“Thanks to my attendance at EMS, our department was able to maximize revenue streams, develop effective event marketing, and gain valuable insight from evaluations.”

Revenue Development and Management School

Ryan Reis, CPRP, recreation director for the Don Pedro Recreation Agency in La Grange, California, shares how Revenue Development and Management School broadened his knowledge and helped him make connections:

“Revenue Development and Management School was a great overall experience. I learned from some of the leading professionals in the recreation industry. They shared their knowledge and experience in a variety of classes, including sessions on business plans, fundraising and sponsorship opportunities. In addition to learning from the instructors, your classroom will be full of talented recreation professionals [who] can support you and provide different perspectives on the challenges we face today.

“Following the completion of Year 1, I brought back innovative ideas and approaches, which I integrated into my work. In my second year, I drew upon those professional experiences while also strengthening my approach with practical and collaborative classroom exercises. I learned from the best, networked with professionals from all around the country, and had the opportunity to leave with some new friends.”

Directors School

Katie Groke, MPA, CPRP, director of community services at Apex Park and Recreation District in Arvada, Colorado, attended Directors School and encourages others to take advantage of the opportunity:

“I highly recommend Directors School to anyone with aspirations to connect to new ideas, grow their parks and recreation knowledge, and meet people who will become lifelong friends and professional connections. My experience at Directors School was life changing! Not only did I learn from the best in the industry, but I also implemented lessons from Directors School into my day-to-day work. The school opened my eyes to innovative practices used nationwide; for example, we studied how to implement sustainable practices into our everyday work. The faculty opened my eyes to new approaches to diversity and inclusion; we were given the space to have profound conversations and reflect on equity in our communities.”

To learn more about NRPA’s professional development offerings, visit

Michael A. Kanters, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management Department at North Carolina State University. Taylor Jeromos is Manager of Learning Production at NRPA.