Civility in the workplace

Ever meet someone that you wish you could pull aside and have a little chat with them about their civility or lack thereof?

If they are on your staff, the good news is – you can. And you should…

Let me clarify… in our workplaces, we train on computer skills, how to balance the cash drawer, how to add proper pool chemicals, how to take a summer camp registration at the front desk – but we very rarely train on the proper etiquette and expected behaviors for how staff treat other staff.

This beautiful concept goes hand in hand with how we (our team) then treat the customers.

So, when I get a request for customer service training, I always first suggest we take a look at the civility expectations and training that staff receive.

If you work for a municipal entity, they sometimes have “Codes of Conduct.” This is often a  “gem” of a document (excuse the implied sarcasm) that includes a harsh list of “Do Not” statements, such as “Employees will refrain from using harsh language” or “Do not disturb, annoy, or interfere with any other person.”

Instead, what if employees come together to talk about the impact that lack of civility in the workplace has on them (step 1) and discuss the standards for behavior that are appropriate and reasonable for their workplace (step 2). Then, by sharing these, employees at all levels are aware and part of this culture. It also becomes easier to welcome new staff into the culture as well. Then, we extend these standards on to our users and patrons.

How does incivility impact the workplace? Big ways, like two employees squabbling or INPE0814name calling or worse. But small ways: tiny jabs at one another, gossip that undermines the moral of all or deeply hurts an employee, employees who quit unexpectedly and you do not learn until later why, staff who call in sick to avoid confrontational situations, loss of productivity related to workplace influences. And so many more…

Another key perk to this process is that bullies or aggressive staff or “hey, I was only kidding, can’t you take a joke” jokers start to feel uncomfortable in the new civil workplace and will begin to be managed by the influence and feedback (even non-verbal social cues) of their peers.

For those that are not, Managers now have a way to discipline and council troublemakers. Sometimes it’s a “hey, can we talk about the last staff meeting? Your comment to Donna putting down her work on the event is not the kind of tone we like to set around here.” on to a full counseling session about language, harassment, or bullying.

Here are some interesting statistics:

  • In 2011, 50% of employees surveyed said they are treated rudely at least once a week at work. (In 1998, it was 25%) I’m anxiously awaiting updated numbers because I bet it’s even higher in 2018.
  • Out of 800 managers and employees surveyed in 17 industries:
    • 48% of employees intentionally decreased their work efforts due to incivility
    • 47% intentionally decreased their time spent at work
    • 80% lost work time worrying about an incident
    • 66% said their work declined
    • 25% admitted taking their frustrations out on a customer
      • From C. Pearson and C. Porath research

It’s time to make training and conversations and workplace civility a priority, regardless of what sector you’re in. I strongly encourage you to hire a consultant or trainer to help you with this, because sometimes employees receive the message better from an outsider versus their management. Look for someone who can be frank and candid but includes humor – Civility training can be fun!

However you approach this, educating yourself and the management of your workplace about the impacts of incivility and the importance of creating a civil workplace is an important first step, then move to a process that allows staff to be heard and be part of creating their own culture. You’ll see wonderful results!




It’s been 25 years…

EPSON DSC picture

…since the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks underwent its last strategic planning effort, State Parks 2000.

Planning for Pennsylvania’s state parks of tomorrow has begun. Named Penn’s Parks for All, the strategic planning process places a priority on public input and participation – because after all, these 121 state parks, totally nearly 300,000 acres, belong to all of us.

Fast Facts:
• State parks receive nearly 40 million visits each year: 36.3 million day visits and 1.6 million overnight visits.
• State parks receive 0.16 of one percent of the state’s General Fund budget.
• A state park is located within 25 miles of nearly every Pennsylvanian.

The mission of PA’s State Parks is to provide opportunities for enjoying healthful outdoor recreation and to serve as outdoor classrooms for environmental education. First consideration is given to the conservation and protection of the environment by balancing the potential impacts of recreational activities and facilities with the natural, scenic, aesthetic and historic resources within the parks.

A public survey which closed last fall yielded 14,276 responses that are being analyzed by researchers at Penn State University. 488 state parks staff members completed an on-line survey. Two additional surveys are in the works:  a statistically-valid statewide telephone survey and an on-line panel survey targeted to reach young adults and ethnic minorities.

Later this year, a preliminary report will be presented at roundtable public meetings throughout the commonwealth to get feedback and reaction from stakeholder groups and residents.

As we look to the future of state parks, questions to answer (among many others) include:

  1. What actions should be taken if natural resources within a park are being harmed by over use?
  2. What changes should be made if the general fund allocation continues to be less than is needed to properly operate and maintain all 121 state parks?
  3. How important is internet access in parks?
  4. Should overnight accommodations be enhanced?
  5. What is the appropriate balance between recreation and conservation of resources?

You can help to craft our state parks strategic plan – Penn’s Parks for All – by attending the future public meetings, reading and commenting on the preliminary report when it’s ready, and promoting the public meeting dates and locations to residents and customers.

We have an amazing, award-winning state park system that we all share. As DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn states, “It’s important to ensure our state park system remains as relevant and valuable to future generations as it has been to current and past generations.”




Be Tick Aware this Spring and Summer

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. During this month and throughout the year, it’s critical that Pennsylvanians understand if you’re spending time outdoors, you should learn about the disease and ways to prevent it.

Pennsylvania has the highest number of reported Lyme disease cases in the United States. Deer ticks — the main carriers of the disease — are found in all 67 Pennsylvania counties.

How should we help program participants and visitors protect themselves while enjoying the outdoors?

Recently, the Get Outdoors PA program did a webinar that was packed full of great information about ticks, Lyme disease, and prevention. It’s worth a listen.

Here’s a condensed version:

Check Yourself Thoroughly

While you can contract Lyme disease any time of the year, spring through mid-summer is the most dangerous time because deer ticks are in their nymph stage and are about the size of a poppy seed, making them difficult to find on your body.

The best way to enjoy the outdoors and protect yourself from the disease is to check yourself thoroughly for ticks right after coming inside from the outdoors.

It takes about seven hours for deer ticks to find soft tissue on your body, such as your scalp, armpits, and groin, and burrow into your skin, so check yourself immediately after being outside.DeerTickOne


How to Reduce Your Chances of Contracting Lyme Disease

While outdoors, you can take steps to reduce your chances of contracting the disease:

  • Wear light colored clothing to more easily spot ticks on you
  • Wear long sleeved shirts and full length pants, if the weather allows, and tuck your pants into your socks to make it more difficult for ticks to find your skin
  • Walk in the center of trails, and avoid brushing up against plants and grasses

What are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease?

If you know you’ve had a tick bite, look for symptoms of Lyme disease, including fever, rash, paralysis, and arthritis.

It could take one to two weeks to show signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, and four to eight weeks to test positive for the disease.

Get Outdoors PA has a great rack card that can be printed and shared with park visitors or outdoor recreation program participants.

The key prevention tip: Always check yourself, children, and pets for ticks after being outside!

Think prevention, and enjoy the spring.

Why you should call your local elected officials before July 2, 2018

Blue Mountain

In 1993, the General Assembly, by a combined vote total of 244 to 3, established the Pennsylvania Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund (Key 93 or Keystone Fund) with a dedicated funding source of 15 percent of the state’s Realty Transfer Tax. The realty transfer tax is collected at a rate of 2 percent on the value of real estate when a property changes ownership (with some exceptions.) The buyer and seller each pay half of the tax with the state government ultimately receiving half of the total tax revenue. Following the General Assembly vote, 67 percent of Pennsylvania citizens voted to supplement the Keystone’s permanent funding stream with a one-time infusion of $50 million in bond revenues.

On July 2, 2018, the Keystone Fund will be celebrating 25 years of success.

Twenty-five years of funding has provided Penn’s Woods with more than 2,400 community park developmental projects, 117,000 acres of preserved open space and has leveraged $3.13 in direct local investments in our parks, trails and open space for each dollar of Keystone Funding.

The Trust for Public Land conducted an economic analysis of the return on Pennsylvania’s investment in land and water conservation through the Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund and found that every $1 invested in land conservation returned $7 in natural goods and services to the Pennsylvania economy.

Brush Creek Trail Ribbon Cutting

Keystone Funding provides to the residents of Pennsylvania:

1.  Recreation (including state parks, trails, scenic rivers, historic and museum facilities, libraries and PA State Universities)
Pennsylvania outdoor recreation generates $21.5 billion in spending, $1.6 billion in tax revenue, 219,000 jobs, and $7.2 billion in wages and salaries. Visitors to state parks spend $859 million annually at local businesses contributing to a total economic impact of $1.15 billion and 12,630 jobs in a variety of industries and businesses in the state.

2. Open Space
Protected open space in southeastern Pennsylvania provides a value of $10.9 million in water quality enhancement services and $318 million in air pollution removal services annually and adds $16.3 billion to the value of homes and generates $240 million in additional annual property and transfer tax revenues. Studies of 15 Pennsylvania communities found that open space and working farms and forest require only $0.18 in services for every $1 generated in tax revenue while residential land requires $1.26 for every $1 generated.

3. Quality of Life
Quality of life is one of the most important factors skilled workers consider when choosing where to live and work. Conserved lands contribute to a high quality of life by providing opportunities for outdoor recreation, improving air and water quality, and maintaining the character of communities.

The Keystone Fund has leveraged $205 million in matching funds from private sources and $116 from local sources for conservation. That is, every $1 of Keystone funding was matched by $2.16 in additional contributions!

Many of your future projects could rely on this funding! Educating legislators about the Keystone Fund is very important as most legislators have changed since 1993. We need to continue to enhance legislative support. Take a minute to communicate the importance of maintaining this dedicated funding source for the future of Pennsylvania Parks and Recreation. Pick up the phone, stop by their office, drop them an email or personal letter….YOU decide which avenue of communication with your local officials would be the most effective in your corner of the “Woods.” Take a minute to reach out to them before July 2nd.

For additional fact sheets, reports and surveys, talking points, sample letters to legislators and other resources visit:

#KeystoneFund25    #KeystoneFund





Dog Blog


Yes, this is my first “dog blog” and it can be said, “It’s a dog’s life.” The truth of the matter is for many dog owners, our dogs are much more than pets. We consider them part of our family!

With pet ownership on the rise in the United States, several communities are advertising themselves as “pet-friendly” to help attract new buyers and renters. And municipal park & recreation departments have been leading the pack for many years in dog park development.

Whether you currently have a dog park, looking to improve your dog park or are simply looking for some tips for planning and building a dog park, I hope you find a few dogs gone good tips here you can use.

Location, location, location…. after all, it is real estate we’re talking about. Ideally, you want your dog park to be situated to the side or at the back of a community if possible. Typically a developer will take all prime land for building, but keep in mind a dog park doesn’t necessarily need to be open and flat! A sloping or parcel that has well-established trees can be both interesting and make for good terrain for dogs to roam and play.

Fencing includes two basic structures…

  1. Perimeter fencing which should be a minimum of 5’ high so larger dogs won’t easily jump out. and
  2. a double gate entry to give owners and dog a chance to acclimate and leash or unleash before entering or exiting the main area. Gate placement in corners is not advised as it may create a bottleneck for traffic and possibly enable an onrushing dog to “corner” the new dog entering creating a situation that may lead to a dog becoming aggressive. A great majority of our dog park surfaces are grass, largely due to the low expense to install/establish.

However, contrary to popular belief, grass should be avoided if possible for surfaces for dogs. As many are already experiencing, the constant running, digging and romping of dogs chew up the turf quickly and what is left is a dirty and sometimes muddy mess.

Additionally dog urine has a high amount of nitrogen which can also kill the grass. Selecting an alternative material can often save maintenance costs in the long run. Materials such as crushed granite ranging from 1/4” too sandy consistency is an excellent resource and are very low maintenance. There are also specially designed artificial turfs for dog parks. The initial cost may be high but the long-term maintenance and ease of managing the surface may well be worth the cost.

Having two sections, one for large dogs and one for small dogs is a must. Any veterinarian or dog trainer will confirm this immediately and for good reasons, not the least of which is controlling behavior between competing sizes of dogs.

Clearly displaying and enforcing the rules of your dog park is the first line of defense and operation for the community. A word on water supply, avoid large buckets or baby pools for water as they can create a breeding ground for mosquitoes and or disease. A high/low water fountain is ideal, both for owners and their furry friends. Lots of dogs mean lots of poop. Something you can absolutely count on. A comprehensive pet waste management plan is essential and include several pet waste bag dispensers and keep them filled.

Finally, benches, shade, and places for the owners to congregate is also essential. After all, this is as much a social event for the dogs as it is for the community. What better way to meet a new neighbor than to share pet stories and experiences. Just be sure space is open for owners to keep an eye on their dogs and so they can easily access their pet and visa versa!

Uncle Sam says, “I want you to dance this summer!”


In my humble opinion, summer camp is the most quintessential parks and recreation program. Think about…field trips, sunscreen, silly games, and friendships all embody the memory-filled park and recreation experience. This summer, as a part of Park and Recreation Month, NRPA is offering an awesome summer camp initiative every PA municipality should take part in…the National Summer Camp Dance!

NRPA’s National Summer Camp Dance is a completely turn-key activity meant to gather up summer camp programs across the nation in a collective effort. Program goals are simple: give the kids something fun to do, prepare staff to deliver the dance, and, very sneakily, promote youth health and wellness as the campers get up and shake their tail feathers! The Dance reaches a raucous crescendo on Friday, July 27th, where all camps are encouraged to dance at 10am – as we “dance across the nation!”

So how do you go about signing up for NRPA’s National Summer Camp Dance?

1) Visit and sign up to get updates!

2) You’ll be sent the official song, “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves along with the sweet dance moves via Youtube by May 15th.

3) Practice the dance with your staff at training – then make it an element of your camp program! Have fun with it – let the kids be creative with their moves!

4) Videotape your final performance on July 27th and send to NRPA!

5) The end of summer National Summer Camp Dance video will feature campers from across the nation!

Now for the REAL reason, your camp should join NRPA’s National Summer Camp Dance…it started right here in Pennsylvania! In 2015, East Goshen and Upper Dublin Township’s piloted this dance alongside two other departments in Virginia and Maryland, just to see if something like this was possible. The result – it was a smash hit! The kids loved it, the staff loved it, and camp administrators used it as a way to encourage that mysterious beast known as “camp staff camaraderie” during training! We pitched the idea to NRPA last year and here we are!

The goal for 2018 is 200 camp programs and 20,000 campers all shaking their tail feathers together on July 27th. We already have programs from Texas, California and of course, Pennsylvania jumping on board! This summer, get up and get moving – join NRPA’s National Summer Camp Dance!

PRPS Conference & Expo: Final Journey



The 71st Annual Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society Conference & Expo was held March 27th – March 30th and featured a NEW location at Kalahari Resorts and Convention Center in Pocono Manor, PA.

The 2018 conference and expo hosted about 400 attendees as they embarked on a journey to find the “Spirit of Recreation.” Exciting new vendors, educational sessions, networking opportunities, and fun-filled socials provided a full itinerary as professionals set off on the four-day adventure!

Exhibitors of all shapes and sizes transformed the hall into a jungle of various new equipment, technologies, and professional opportunities. With over 80 vendors and two exciting interactive zones, there was so much for everyone to see! For those who remembered to bring their camera on the trek, the Snap Shot Game was a hit as participants captured images of wild and rare species throughout the expedition. To top it off, the Community Branch Prize Pool featured brand new prizes and helped to raise over $3,500.

As with any great journey, there is always much to learn. Forty-four educational sessions provided professionals with important information on recreation topics and growing trends. Specialized tours delivered an insight to the behind-the-scenes of our host, Kalahari Resorts, and a unique experience on the Pocono Raceway. Motivational Keynote Speakers Marc Mero and Barbara Heller sharing stories of personal triumph and overcoming stressful obstacles left professionals prepared to return to work ready to face any challenge!

Socials embraced the “spirit of friendly competition” this year with an adult Easter Egg Hunt that encouraged conference participants to search eagerly throughout the day and evening. And it did not stop there – the increasingly popular district challenge took the form of a Lip Sync Battle with District 1 claiming the “ALL District Belt!” Even vendors joined in on the challenges this year. And, of course, each night would not have been complete without the great prizes, dancing, and music provided by DJ Special D, Mr. Radio, and DJ Dave Boice.

The Annual Awards Banquet took place on the last evening of the Conference; sponsored by Recreation Resource, USA. A total of 10 Excellence in Recreation and Parks awards were presented and Lancaster Recreation Commission received the Agency of the Year Award. The Distinguished Member Award in Honor of Robert D. Griffith was presented to Karen M. Hegedus of Lower Providence Township, the Outstanding New Professional Award was presented to Robert Jackson of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, and the Outstanding Achievement Award in Honor of Fred M. Coombs was awarded to Helen M. Griffith who passed away in January. Congratulations to all the 2018 award winners!

The PRPS Conference hit a new record this year in sponsorship with amazing contributions from General Recreation, Recreation Resource USA, District III, Hershey Park, Grote, Morey’s Piers, and Rock N’Roll Racing. Thank you to all continuing and new sponsors that joined us this year! This adventure could not have been successful without you!

And no summary of the 2018 PRPS Conference expedition would be complete without a huge thank you to the amazing team that helped make it all happen! A committee of 29 professionals dedicated their time and energy throughout the year to guarantee a successful experience for members, vendors, speakers, and sponsors who attended. The PRPS Office Staff were another crucial part of the team, providing guidance, support, and resources throughout the process. Thank you to all the amazing individuals and groups that worked hard to bring the “Spirit of Recreation” to life and to all of you who chose to embark on the journey!