Magazine article Parks & Recreation

One Vision, One Voice

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

One Vision, One Voice

Article excerpt

NRPA aligns its branches, sections, and regions.

AS NRPA CELEBRATES 45 YEARS as the nation's voice for parks and recreation, it is now in the unique position to see with one vision and to speak with one voice. From NRPA's inception in 1965, bringing together the nation's leading advocates for parks, recreation, and environmental conservation, the intent has been to focus on bringing professionals and citizens together to promote, advocate, and enhance the lives of Americans through leisure activities. On July 15, NRPA's board of directors authorized a restructuring of its system of branches, sections, and regions to achieve this common approach to its mission.

"Members of the Branch, Section (and Region) Task Force were excellent to work with throughout this process," says its chair, Dianne Hoover. Getting to this stage required extensive participation by NRPA members, staff, and board. Hoover, who succeeded Steve Neu in year two of the restructuring, tells how the Task Force coalesced into creating its final set of recommendations.

"Through some initial conference calls, it became clear that a face-to-face meeting had to occur in order for recommendations to be created and agreed upon. Each task force member came to the retreat having read NRPA's history written by H. Douglas Sessoms and Karla Henderson, The Noble Experiment describes how several citizen and professional groups came together to form one organization to enhance parks and recreation throughout the United States. Through the years, NRPA evolved into an organization of several sub-groups and the organization got lost in the weeds of governance of these groups."

Sessoms and Henderson quote Dwight Rettie, NRPA's executive director from 1971-1974 and his efforts to pursue the association's mission. Rettie had found it difficult to explain to foundation officers the association's complex structure which, at the time, consisted of 204 [members] and growing, seven branches with 150-plus board members, 160 committees, 63 national board members, eight districts, [and] 63 affiliates. Having a strong sense of the association's history made it much easier for Task Force members to create a more efficient structure.

NRPA listened to taskforce members and has followed their recommendations that will make NRPA the single most important voice for public recreation, parks, and conservation in the nation. The Task Force, made up of representatives from each of the 18 branches, sections and regions, focused its efforts on creating a more relevant and effective structure to meet the increased needs of the NRPA membership. The key result of the taskforce will be NRPA Networks, which will provide enhanced opportunities for collaborative exchanges among members and the chance to participate in multiple groups with diverse interests.

To date, NRPA's specialized groups have been known as branches, regions, and sections with varying approaches to sharing the vision of NRPA. The focus has always been to provide education to further the NRPA vision, advocacy to strengthen the vision, and networking opportunities to share the vision. Because the association now identifies all its working groups as Networks of NRPA, it can better engage current and future members in a more meaningful manner, while continuing to have an effective and more consistent leadership structure.

This new structure includes a unified Network Awards Program and a Network Scholarship Program. The new online communication tool will allow Network members to easily communicate with each other and their leaders, as well as ask questions, discuss urgent issues, and share best practices - all in real time. …

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