Two Ears & a Mouth


Learn to pronounce

1. 1. the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.

What happens when you show up at a conference, a career fair, or a roundtable event? Do you dive straight into the crowd and start mingling? Do you gently work your way in? Or, do you back into a corner and break out in a cold sweat?

For many people, networking is a terrifying, disabling prospect. This may be because they’re introspective, introverted, unconfident, shy, hindered by bad experiences, or simply new to it. Whatever the cause, a fear of networking can be hard to overcome once it’s established.

The good news is that none of us are born with a natural talent for networking, even the people who really enjoy it. Networking isn’t an “innate” ability, it’s a skill that anyone can learn. You don’t have to be a smooth operator or an extrovert go-getter to be successful; you just need to use the right strategies.

Networking takes many of us out of our comfort zones, but it is possible to overcome our fears when we use the right strategies.

To overcome a fear of networking:
1. Be selective about the events that you attend.
2. Research other attendees’ backgrounds to get useful information.
3. Set realistic, meaningful goals.
4. Think about what you’ll say, and listen to the responses.
5. Arrive early so that you can assess your surroundings.
6. Bring a colleague or friend for support.
7. Mind your body language and try to keep an open posture.
8. Go easy on yourself.
9. Take time out during the event to “recharge your batteries.”
10. Know when to move on from a conversation.

Remember, when networking, it is important to be a good listener, have a positive collaborative attitude, be sincere and authentic, follow up, be trustworthy, and be approachable.


Be More than a FAN

Members and Friends of PRPS:

I hope this finds you enjoying the end of the summer months.  As we look to great anticipation of the fall, and all the time it usually brings the soul in regards to relaxation, my hope for you is that you get to enjoy some “outside” time, with family and friends around the campfires across the state. May you enjoy the changing colors of the scenery, the chill in the air, your favorite sweatshirt, pumpkins and spices, as well as some good ole football.

 Regardless of what region you live in, (Yes, I know you PRPS members right away think of all the Districts) but the normal Pennsylvanian thinks from the Dutch Country, Laurel Highlands, Leigh Valley, Pennsylvania Wilds, Pennsylvania Great Lakes Region, Philadelphia and the countryside, Pittsburgh and its countryside, to the Pocono Mountain area, most of us celebrate fall with a team, we enjoy being a FAN.  Be it Pitt, PSU, Steelers, and/ or the Eagles. Yes, we are a divided state from East to West when it comes to our fan base.  

What does it mean to be a Fan? According to Google: an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) is usually a spectator. 2: an ardent admirer or enthusiast (as of a celebrity or a pursuit) of science-fiction fans.

Yes, we are usually a fan of some team, but a fan is an ardent admirer.  We need doers in PRPS.  We need partners, workers, and volunteers, we need you!  We need a few committed members that have the enthusiasm of a fan but a little more commitment than an admirer.

I am reaching out as the current President to encourage you to become engaged in the upcoming Fall Membership Meeting at State College on November 16th, and to start to plan for the March Annual Conference in Hershey from March 19-22nd. These opportunities for continuing education, as well as to assist the society meet the needs of its members are provided with the help of volunteers, board members, branch members, and committees. I would like to thank everyone who has served this organization since its existence, as if it weren’t for you and your efforts we would not have served others within PRPS.  

Enjoy my favorite time of the year, embrace the gorgeous scenery, and become a fan, but more importantly mark the dates to spend some time with your PRPS peeps!

My Favorite Team – I am their biggest FAN – 2022 Mechanicsburg Area Field Hockey Team

Moving Forward at the PRPS Conference & Expo

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

― Walt Disney Company

Looking back, while moving PA Forward is the 75th Conference Tag Line.  While looking back – I have many fond memories of friends, learning, all while having an absolute blast getting to know some of the most amazing people in Parks and Recreation in PA. I would be remiss to start naming names, and locations, as being one of the Baby Boomers of this organization, the days and years really do start to run together.  One aspect that does remain constant is the faces of those that have assisted me, and the community in which I live to keep moving forward, opening new doors, and attempting new things!

So with the 75th conference around the corner, I would like to really encourage you to take the time right now, to reach out to PRPS colleague(s) or friend(s) that you haven’t had the time to converse with over the past two years, and set up a time to meet at the conference to meet up and share ideas, learn from and simply network.

There are many benefits of attending a conference, but personally, over many years, the one that has assisted me the most would be the networking opportunities with other professionals. I could definitely write a paper on all the positive camps, programs, grants, procedures, policies, and processes that I have “borrowed” from many of you.  What more of an accolade than that assisting someone start something in their community?

My plan when attending any conference is to bring home and implement at least but no more than three ideas, or incremental steps to positive change. I try to keep a list of items separate from my notes taken during the educational sessions to refer back quickly and easily, and to continue to add to the list. Obviously, I want to learn anything, and everything there is to learn, but while doing so, it is important to incorporate realization into what you can bring home, and what might be later down the road for your community.

While developing your career at the conference, by educating yourself, and improving your performance as a Director, manager, leader within the field, it is also imperative to set time aside to meet with industry suppliers and individuals that can assist with you doing your job at a higher level, by utilizing their products.  Please take time to visit the Exhibit Hall, and introduce yourself to the Vendors that bring their knowledge and expertise to share with you. It is vital to our budget that continues to bring in these valuable exhibitors!

Re-energize yourself, and your staff by sharpening your knowledge, learning the new best practices, meeting industry leaders, making new contacts, and connecting with those friends and colleagues, all while having a wonderful time at Kalahari Resorts in March 2022.

Looking Back While Moving PA Forward

by Jason Lang, East Goshen Township

For anyone that has read my Dig It! blogs over the years, I typically pull on heart strings…but not today! As I sit here on 2/22/22 typing away, we are just 35 days away from the 75th Anniversary PRPS Conference & Expo and it’s starting to get exciting! In just one month, 400+ park and recreation professionals will converge on Kalahari Resorts and I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to party! Fellow Conference Co-Chair Kristy Owens and I have an amazing team that deserves a ton of credit! So here they are!

Education Committee: Kristin Zeigler, Derek Dureka, Cindy Dunlap, Dave Hutner, Chris Biswick, Marissa Sprowles

Expo Hall Committee: Andy Oles, Mike Richino, Katie Kollar, Doug Knauss, Joanna Sharapan

Socials: Becky Richards, Jason Cerkan

Local Arrangements: Dan Sharapan

Registration: Emily Croke

Publicity: Kelsey Najdek

Room Host: Paul Kopera

App Master: Trevor Pearson

And of course, the amazing PRPS staff is the driving force behind the experience, led by Director of Training and IT Niki Tourscher!

But, we still need help to pull this all off, and I’m talking to you! Yes, you reading this right now! We still need a few folks to volunteer at the Registration Desk (1-2 hours) and as Room Hosts, very simply introducing speakers and making sure the crowd doesn’t get too rowdy!

Now, many of you might be asking yourself if you really need to attend the conference or not…and the answer is yes! Double yes! And here’s why!

It’s been three years since we all got together way, way back in March 2019 at the conference in Penn State. I miss my friends from Pittsburgh! I miss the witty banter at the Awards Banquet between Barry Bessler and Dave Hutner about who’s better, the Eagles or Steelers (it’s a tie – they both stink!). March 2019 feels like forever ago, and you know what, you deserve this conference. We all do! The pandemic has hit PA communities hard, but park and recreation professionals have been true leaders in the face of crisis. Creative and driven folks that have thrust parks and programming forward as a panacea for moving us successfully through COVID. So you deserve to have these four days. Four days to applaud yourself for your hard work. Four days to commiserate with fellow folks who “get it.” Four days to steal genius programming ideas from someone else. Four days to meet with expo hall vendors about exciting post-pandemic projects. And four days, if you are like me, away from your own crazy kids!

So as you can see, I didn’t mention anything about CEU’s, our terrific lineup of speakers, or socials. All of that will be AMAZING. At the end of the day, its the PRPS membership, coming together from all corners of PA that makes the conference special. Be a part of it!

You can find all the Conference & Expo details and registration on the website at

Hope to see you there!


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