Ways to stay informed with PRPS

PRPS strives to keep our members up to date with the latest parks and recreation news and trends through a variety of communication outlets.  Here are several ways we keep you informed:

  1. The SCOOP – This weekly email newsletter includes the latest news, new members, upcoming education & training announcements, member requests for peer collaboration, Dig It! blog posts, legislative alerts, member news and more. If you want to include something, the deadline is each Monday. You can view past SCOOPs on prps.org under Resources/Publications, and then select Archives. It is a members-only page, so you will need to login to gain access.
  2. Pennsylvania Recreation & Parks – Our semiannual magazine provides articles on playgrounds, aquatics, trails, leadership, unique program ideas, professional development, and current trends. Issues are sent each spring and fall. Our magazine archive can be found at prps.org under Resources/Publications.
  3. Membership Directory and Buyers Guide – This is our largest publication, and features individual and agency members contact information, the buyer’s guide vendor listing, and other professional references. It is printed each spring, and provides advertisers unique and on-going exposure.
  4. Districts and Branch News – The Resource Branch Newsletter is developed by the Park Resource Branch and includes articles from the Resource Operations Workshop and more.  The Aquatics News offers new resources and alerts of certification changes/requirements. Each District sends out news regarding their regional educational workshops and socials.
  5. Website – PRPS.org is updated frequently to reflect current news, resources, professional development opportunities, partnerships, and job center. Be sure to login when you visit, so you can access all of our members-only content, resources, and online directory.
  6. Social Media – Engage with PRPS on the following social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. Facebook is used the most to add events; share related articles, member news and other news. If you are interested in taking over one of our social media accounts for a week, let us know.
  7. Mobile App – Download our popular Conference & Expo app to view the conference schedule or search for exhibitors, speakers, socials, maps, sponsors, and attendees.
  8. Direct Mail – Workshop brochures, publications, postcards, Conference & Expo Guides.
  9. Annual Report – This report highlights the many accomplishments of PRPS, its volunteers and supporters.
  10. Dig It! Blog – Our blog covers a variety of topics including Advocacy, Funding, Leadership, Maintenance, Operations, Personnel, Wellness, Programming, Volunteer, Communication, Internship and Trails. If you would like to be a guest blogger, let me know at eschnellbaugh@prps.org.
  11. Digital Email – Professional development opportunities, legislative alerts, and other important notices are sent through our email distribution list.
  12. Media Kit – Produced at the beginning of the year, this guide includes all advertising and sponsorship opportunities available to vendors and supporters.

As you can see PRPS offers a variety of ways to keep in touch. You can manage your communication preferences when you login to your account at prps.org.  If you are interested in something listed that you are not receiving, or need help finding something on the website let us know.

Have an idea to share?  Please consider volunteering as a guest blogger, social media contributor, or to author a magazine article.  You can receive Professional Service Experience Points (CEU equivalent) toward your professional certification renewal by submitting articles for publication in Pennsylvania Recreation and Parks.

What information and resources would you like to see?  We are always looking for new topics for articles, blog entries, and resources to share with our members. If you have ideas to share and would like to be on the Communications & Marketing Committee, email me at eschnellbaugh@prps.org.


“It is what it is……..”

“It is what it is”………… One of my favorite sayings shared with my previous supervisor. It is that time of the year, when all of the sudden everything is crazy, phones are ringing, schedules need completed, clearances are due, the weather is not cooperating, and there is no water in the pool! Summer is right around the corner……..it is what it is and summer is here!

Are you overwhelmed, overloaded, and overworked? It is what it is, but you need to rejuvenate daily or you won’t make it to July 4th let alone the end of the summer. You can’t put it off until your vacation, or a weekend trip. Real rejuvenation takes place by adding beneficial practices to your life by improving your energy, productivity, and focus, so you can accomplish more in an efficient manner.

How can you rejuvenate daily?

Get outdoors. We all know it, we all read it, but do we all do it? Time outside leads to happiness, less stress and clears the mind. Take a quick walk around your office, a change of scenery and a breath of fresh air go a long way.

Check your soul. Take a few minutes during the day to just shut your eyes, meditate and connect with yourself. Refocus, and redirect your mind to a positive thought or direction.

Get Up. If you are sitting all day, the best way to rejuvenate is give yourself the gift of movement. Get moving, get into action. Sign up for an exercise class, go for a bike ride, or take a walk. Keep it simple, but keep at it and make it a daily routine.

Get to Sleep. This is usually one of the easiest ways to rejuvenate, as the percentage of individuals getting more than 7.5 hours per night decreases, causing many health concerns. You will notice increase energy, better focus, and a better diet if you increase those zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s.

Action steps to increasing the time for get outdoors, check your soul, get up and get to sleep: Time management/ organization and my personal favorite, turn off the TV. Time management is actually taking the time to analyze what you do with your time during the day. Try making a graph of every fifteen minutes and what you personally are working on, you will be amazed at the changes you will be able to make to allow for more time to accomplish the rejuvenation techniques. Lastly, decrease all screen time. It is what it is, so turn on your app that tracks your time on the screen, you will be again astounded at the potential everyday changes leading to a new you!

An Appreciation of Inspiration

Recently CBS News shared an infographic defining generation guidelines. Curiously, Gen X was missing from this graphic. This omission led to some online fun.


As often is the case with internet funnies, I went down a rabbit hole of Gen X jokes and ended up taking an online quiz to see which Gen X characteristics I inhabit.

  • Independent/ Self Sufficient– Check! That’s totally me.
  • Results oriented– Brushes shoulder off.
  • Embrace hands off management style– Nailed me!
  • Work/Life Balance very important– Yup!
  • Casual Disdain for Authority– Looks over recently brushed off shoulder. Uhh…
  • Cynical– Well….

That last characteristic is a double edged sword. I had fun taking this quiz, but because of that trait, I’m skeptical of its accuracy.

As silly as these tests are, it is beneficial to be self aware of your shortcomings. For me, I realize that if I’m not careful, cynicism can close me off to new experiences as well as inspiration. I’ve found that they often go hand in hand. A new experience can lead to a jolt of inspiration.

Inspiration comes from unexpected places. I was recently at a club to see Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, an English musician with an insanely entertaining live show. I enjoy a wide range of music, but especially appreciate the smaller acts, the more intimate clubs, and the comradery those venues foster.

I came into the show already expecting to be entertained based on past experience. Little did I know that the opening act would accelerate my enjoyment of the evening. I’m a sucker for blending classical instruments with more traditional rock, and punk elements, and the opening act had a cellist that knocked my socks off. It was a performance I had never experienced. I thoroughly enjoyed their set, and was inspired…to purchase some of their music.

*Paying for music, total Gen X thing to do.

One of the last times I was inspired, was at the Annual Conference. Now what traits do a professional conference share with going to a show? For me, I believe the inspiration comes from a place of passion, authenticity and talent. I’ve never walked away from a conference, not being inspired by a speaker, a peer, or a late night chat at a social. Often I find inspiration at the Awards Banquet. (Free plug for submitting awards nominations!) It is such a joy to see and hear what everyone is doing in their communities. New Professional and Agency of the Year acceptance speeches are often highlights for me, and almost always a source of motivation. I could list multiple individuals that have moved me with their words.

But I won’t.

It’s almost Summer and I’m trying to keep the word count reasonable! The talent to implement the programs and projects that propel our members to be recognized is evident. The passion to push through all the hurdles, the red tape, the bureaucracy, the long days, finding a kernel of positivity from a flop, are all part of this formula. Most importantly, I think the authenticity of those that put all of themselves into this profession go along way in penetrating this Gen Xer’s waning cynicism, and breed the inspiration that I’m so immensely appreciative of.

Your Alma Mater Wants YOU!

Attention college and university graduates!  Your alma mater needs you.

This isn’t a request for money although alumni donations and financial support are always greatly appreciated.  This is about you.  This is about your talent, your experience and your expertise helping to enrich the university offerings.   To quote Uncle Sam, we want you!

Participating in a university alumni association offers the graduate many benefits.  The alumni network can be an asset in your career development, in building your connections in the field and in expanding your social network.  Moving to a new town?  Taking on a new role in your career?  Your local alumni association can often provide resources, both formal and informal, to help you in that transition.  Alumni associations are increasingly offering other services such as career support, special events and other opportunities to remain connected to your alma mater.  Some alumni associations even offer alumni travel programs.   For example, in 2017, Penn State’s Recreation, Park and Tourism Management (RPTM) faculty led an Alumni Travel program through Yellowstone Park entitled “The Wolves of Yellowstone.”  The week-long trip included educational sessions, faculty led discussions and social time.  Faculty shared their expertise and research related to the National Parks while alumni expanded their knowledge and understanding as well as their social network.  Ironically, none of the alumni participants in that program were RPTM alums!

But, it isn’t just Penn State.  Whether you attended Lock Haven, Slippery Rock, Cheyney, York College, Cal State, East Stroudsburg or Temple – or other schools within or outside of Pennsylvania – universities want their alumni to stay connected.  Alumni can and do help faculty and staff with the university mission of teaching, research and service.

There are a variety of ways that a strong alumni network enriches an academic program.  First, alumni contribute through class participation.  Having “professionals in the classroom” can offer first person, real life experience, stories and examples of theory and practice that are covered in the curriculum.  Further, by providing sites for projects, events, or other collaborations, students begin to make the transition from course materials and book learning to practical experience in real world recreation, parks and tourism service delivery.

Second, alumni help with student development on an individual level.  Many universities, including Penn State, have Alumni-Student mentoring programs.   Students who build relationships one-on-one with alumni in their intended careers report that it deepens their understanding of the field.  The alumni mentors often offer suggestions on courses, help with resumes or as a sounding board for questions about the profession.

Finally, having an alumni advisory board or an affiliated alumni group can help the academic program with both academic and social programs.  In Penn State’s last RPTM curriculum review, the data we collected from alumni and from the agencies who have accepted our interns offered important information to help us adapt and modify the new curriculum.   As we plan social events like tailgates, socials at conferences and other places for students, faculty and alumni to “recreate” we look to our alumni for guidance.

A strong partnership between universities and their alumni can also lead to support at your agencies from faculty in research, program evaluation, and other collaborations.

Check out what your school and department is doing on social media.  Say “yes” when you are asked to speak in classes.  Sign up to be a mentor.  Attend a university function.  Maybe even make a donation!  A relationship between a university or college and their students and graduates that continues beyond commencement is of benefit to all.



Inmates Play More Than Our Children

girl playing baseball

In a recent Workshop I attended that was sponsored by a local Playground Manufacturer, I watched an impactful video showcasing inmates from U.S. prisons enjoying their recreation time.  I learned that inmates in the US are required to have 2-hours of recreation per day.  The inmates beamed as they discussed their recreation time and the guards supported this requirement and defined it as imperative for population control and management.  The inmates and guards were then asked how reducing recreation time to  ½-hour – 1-hour per day would impact life in prison.  The reaction was similar, as both inmates and guards stated that a reduction in recreation would create a state of anarchy in the prisons.

In America, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and many other organizations recommend our children should get 60 minutes (1-hour) of physical activity/play/recreation per day.  Yet, our children struggle to average 4 hours of physical play per week, which along with poor dietary habits, has resulted in a national obesity epidemic and for the first time in history, experts are predicting average life spans to actually start decreasing.   Although, our youth have the time to average over 5-hours per week utilizing some sort of electronic device.

As obesity becomes America’s primary healthcare concern, many communities are decreasing budgets for parks and play areas and schools are cutting or eliminating physical education  As your read this article,  your holding the key component to opportunities unrivalled by any community in our state or region with programs, special events, parks, trails and amenities to live healthy.

Closing the Loop

Your rail trail experience is about to get a little more interesting…

Currently, the Ghost Town Trail connects Blairsville to Ebensburg, showcasing some of the area’s most eye catching features, along with a little history of the once-booming mining towns it passes through. Each year, 80,000 bicyclists, hikers, runners, bird watchers, dog walkers, and down-right nature lovers visit this trail to enjoy the outdoors the way they see fit. This 32 mile trail is one of the area’s biggest attractions, and it’s about to get even bigger. For the first time in eastern United States rail trail history, the Ghost Town Trail is just 5.5 miles away from having a continuous loop. Think of it, an extension 16 miles of length, connected to one of the top 9 hiking trails in the United States. Can you say… refreshing?

The newest section of the C&I Trail shown on the right, which connects to the Ghost Town Trail on the left.

The idea of a loop of rail trail sounded surreal in 1994, but a group of individuals promoting the development of trails and greenways in Cambria and Indiana Counties, known as the C and I Trail Council, was determined to make it happen. This group played a pivotal role in railbanking the C and I railroad corridor. (Railbanking is a voluntary agreement between a railroad company and a trail agency to use an out-of-service rail corridor as a trail) In the process, Northern Cambria Community Development Corporation (Norcam) stepped up to serve as a placeholder for the transition of the corridor property since the Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority (CCCRA) was not yet created. A few years later, CCCRA came into existence and took ownership of the corridor in 1998.

The Ghost Town Trail and C and I trail corridor are owned and managed by CCCRA. New to the authority at the time, Executive Director Cliff Kitner took charge and soon opened the first 8 miles of this trail extension in 2017. Not long after, another 2 miles of the corridor was slated to be constructed. This current 2 mile project, what Ben ran on, is expected to be complete in the next coming months. Between the main 32 mile trail and soon to be complete 16 mile extension piece, trail users will be offered a 32 mile loop in total. That loop can be broken into smaller loops. And now, CCCRA is only 5.5 miles of funding and construction away from making this happen.

Find out how you can help support the efforts of this project by visiting the CCCRA website.

How to replace a legend…


In late 2013, I accepted the Director position here in East Goshen Township and met Mr. Frank Vattilano. He had been the Director here for twenty-five years and had what lovingly could be called a cult-like following. I shadowed him for two weeks and everywhere we went, it was nothing but bear hugs and tears. He had a verbose, story telling air about him, he would meander between topics with the community just as all our grandfathers do at holiday time. My first reaction…this is awesome. This community obviously loves parks and recreation and cares about the professional staff that administers it. That said, I cannot tell you how many people gave me a smile and said “you have big shoes to fill”…

Here are some of my recommendations for “filling their big shoes”…

1) Embrace their awesomeness – they were probably really good for the community! Don’t feel intimidated by your community’s affection for an outgoing Director…that same affection can come your way!

2) Be confident in your abilities – you were chosen to be the legend’s replacement for a reason…the selection committee chose YOU over plenty of other qualified people. Celebrate the legend for what he or she was, but know that you are going to kick butt over the next twenty-five years.

3) Know your park and rec talking points – whenever someone said the “shoes” thing to me…I acknowledged Frank was awesome, then immediately told them 2-3 things they could look forward to under the “Jason” regime. Control the conversation…

4) Tell people you aren’t blowing things up (even if you are). Over the prior 25 years, East Goshen Parks and Rec had motored along and the community loved it. When I started however, I had my “objective” glasses on and could see we needed some work. Individuals, groups and communities don’t like being overtly told they’ve been doing things the wrong way for years…be tactful and nuanced when discussing wholesale changes.

5) Take a deep breath – replacing a legend takes time. Find ways to engender confidence in your leadership through small easy victories, you will get there!