Goodbye to Summer

Special needs pictureIt may be a sad moment for some and a joyful one to others…the end of summer.  For my daughter and I, it’s our favorite time of year.  We can almost smell the leaves.  The acorns have begun to fall from the Oaks and the goldenrod is blooming.

In our profession, summer poses more of a challenge in your personal life to “relax.”  You have pools to manage, camps to organize, Community Day(s), concerts, races, and many other special events.  So, Fall may be just what the doctor ordered.

But as we wish away the madness, think of all the memories that you and your staff have created for the community.  You have created economic stimulus; taught someone to swim; showed a child the difference between a frog and a toad; provided exercise for a senior citizen; encouraged a special needs participant to get up and dance, allowed a grandfather to watch his granddaughter hit her first home run, created laughter between new friends and many, many other memories.

Parks and Recreation Professionals not only provide benefits for the humans on Mother Earth, but also for the many critters that rely on clean water, fresh air, green grass, safe corridors, and plentiful food.  All which allows them to continue to flourish in their natural habitats.

As you take that sigh of relief that another successful summer has come to an end, give yourself, your staff, and dedicated volunteers a pat on the back for making a difference for creatures big and small.

 

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You want me to volunteer for WHAT?

There are two components when it comes to volunteers:  the folks that volunteer and the folks that manage the volunteers.  Both are equally important.

Volunteers do play a vital role in many areas of the Parks and Recreation profession by providing essential work and know-how, which has Moraine Regatta with Smokey the Bearbecome a considerable monetary advantage. Most recreational professionals that have planned projects or events understand that they could not have been successful without the work, knowledge, and time donated by volunteers. Fischer and Schaffer (1993) define volunteering as, “the act of freely helping others without regard to financial and/or materialistic gain.”

There are many things to consider when working with volunteers in your organization: needs assessment, goals and objectives, risk management, training, orientation, placement, supervision, retainment, motivation, and recognition.  Just to name a few….

As some of you are aware, there are certainly times when you are not sure if managing the volunteers is all that it’s cracked up to be.  However, if you create reasonable expectations for an organization and the volunteers, there will be value to be had for you and the volunteer.

The benefits of volunteering as a family are enormous. Volunteering teaches even toddlers and preschoolers about compassion, empathy, tolerance, gratitude, and community responsibility. And children who volunteer are more likely to continue doing so as adults.  I have been volunteering at Moraine State Park for over 24 years, yikes……yes it has been that long. My children have been at my side since they can remember.  Volunteering is part of who they are, and hopefully, the memories and experiences they have gained will encourage them to continue the service as adults.

 

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

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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.

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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: https://keystonefund.org/25th-anniversary-toolkit/

#KeystoneFund25    #KeystoneFund

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Why sustainability is not just about the environment

5 key principles

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In essence, sustainable is about five key principles:

  1. Care for the Environment
  2. Respect of Ecological Constraints
  3. Fairness and Equality
  4. Quality of Life
  5. Participation and Partnership

Or in a nutshell, a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

As parks and recreation professionals each of the key principles affect our daily lives.  In order to ensure future sustainability practices, not only should the younger generations should be engaged in these philosophies, practices and key elements but the entire population.

Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods sparked a movement to encourage children to go out and reconnect with nature. This movement has since sparked innovation in amenities to keep them engaged such as Nature Play Playgrounds, Sensory Gardens, and Nature Programs and Curriculum.

Most of us are aware of the above aspect of Sustainability.

But what about… Fairness and Equality? Quality of Life? Participation and Partnership?

Fairness and Equality

When it comes to societal transformation for a sustainable future, there are three reasons why equality could be part of the equation.

First, inequality drives materialism.

Second, people living in more equal societies value collective responsibility more. This leads to a host of sustainable spin-offs.

The third reason also relates to business and economic growth. Transforming societies will require significant innovation.

Quality of Life

Our profession enhances the unique characteristics of all communities by providing healthy, safe and walkable opportunities for all ages. It creates memories, physical activity, and fun! We have the power to enhance the quality of life for those willing to participate.

Participation and Partnership (or in our case, FUNDING!)

We have recently witnessed the lack of participation and partnership regarding the support of funding for parks and recreation in Pennsylvania. Continued development of strategies that inspire our communities, residents and government officials will allow them to discover the importance of parks, recreation and open space in the Commonwealth. Partnerships have proven to be the backbone to financial sustainability. The Growing Greener Coalition, PRPS and others have worked to keep us informed of changes that are being made to potential funding cuts that can and will affect most of us.  Continue to be part of our uniform voice when there is a “Call For Action!”

Sustainability will continue to increase in Pennsylvania because of all YOU do.

Parks and Recreation is “Good For You, Good For All.