Park and Recreation Stories: Your Story Starts Here

June 27, 2024, Department, by Cara Myers

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For an enhanced digital experience, read this story in the ezine

Park and recreation professionals are storytellers at their core. Whether reflecting fondly on their childhoods as park and rec kids, sharing insights on how they entered the field or detailing how far they’ve come decades later, folks in this industry have countless tales to tell.

That’s why we started the video-storytelling project Park and Recreation Stories. This collective effort aims to capture the memories and insights of park and recreation professionals, as well as commemorate the significant events experienced by NRPA members, partners and advocates. The initiative promotes the voices of those who have dedicated their lives to the field of parks and recreation for the purpose of creating strong, healthy and vibrant communities across this country.

It didn’t take long for Michael Clark, executive director of Palatine (Illinois) Park District, to recognize this common goal that all park and recreation professionals are working toward together.

“I found that really enlightening in which not only are we making our communities better and making an impact, but [also] your colleagues are there with you to help you along the way,” Clark says.

These interviews are meant to elevate and honor the authentic expression of each individual story. Topics of discussion include career development, a passion for outdoor activities that promote both physical and mental health, the desire to give back, and a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

Miranda Maloy, program supervisor at Lewisville Thrive in Texas, admits that she simply fell into parks and recreation — as many professionals do. Starting out as a children’s art teacher in nonprofit leisure services, Maloy quickly found her place in the field.

“It was transformative in a way that I had not even comprehended,” Maloy says. “It started as just a passion for art, and then it became a passion for people.”

We’re excited to continue sharing these stories with you throughout 2024 and into 2025 as we begin celebrating our 60th anniversary. By advancing a deeper appreciation of the essential work accomplished by park and recreation professionals, celebrating those who have impacted the field, and uplifting agencies across the country that continue to move the work forward, we aim to inspire your own work with every video.

Follow along as we dig deep into the passion, enthusiasm and joy that keep individuals so dedicated to the world of parks and recreation. Because everyone deserves a great park.

Editor’s Note: Portions of this article were adapted from an article originally published on NRPA’s Open Space blog.

Cara Myers is Marketing and Engagement Manager at NRPA.