Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Visit a Park Day 2011: Citizens and Students Participate at Parks across the Country

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Visit a Park Day 2011: Citizens and Students Participate at Parks across the Country

Article excerpt

I WONDER IF MANY PEOPLE HAVE EVER LOOKED in their rearview mirror in complete awe of their recent memories. I cannot say enough about the successes from 2011. A little over a year ago, I thought I had made a mistake in taking on the Visit a Park Day project. Linda Oakleaf, a former student branch chair, had the fantastic idea of creating a day designed to spark curiosity and wonderment in the park setting.

The beginnings of Visit a Park Day were stellar; Linda succeeded in capturing a national audience and procuring various groups to participate in a wide range of activities. Was I really the person to nurture this idea into 2011? As I told a colleague, I might have bitten off more than I could chew. Only with the help of various members of NRPA's Young Professional Network was I able to further the mission of such a great idea and help the 2011 Visit a Park Day see success.

Visit a Park Day's purposes for students and community members are fourfold, including increasing park attendance, providing service and learning opportunities, fostering and creating lasting park relationships, and exposing the parks to various marginalized populations. This year, several programs across the United States recruited hundreds of individuals to facilitate and participate in Visit a Park Day. Groups in Champaign, Illinois; Raleigh, North Carolina; Rockford, Illinois; and so many more poured their efforts into a variety of programming and organized recreation to help make the event a success.

Various nonprofit organizations such as the North American Association for Environmental Education, The Boys and Girls Clubs, various state NRPA-affiliated agencies, a multitude of university and college groups, and many other groups aided in distributing information through an array of media sources. Agencies used online media sources like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google, newspaper sites, and other websites to spread the word about the event. Many organizations formed online groups to recruit volunteers and participants for their events.

For the second straight year, leaders of various groups exceeded expectations for the event. More groups facilitated more programs. More volunteers and workers created successful events. …

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