December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 10

WE ARE PARKS AND RECREATION
Pandemic Empowered: Creative
Solutions in a COVID-19 World
By Sarah Krug and Michael A. Mulvaney
I
n March 2020, the
coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
and
subsequent stay-at-home orders brought the world to a surreal halt.
Businesses shut down, transportation was immobilized, and people
across the globe sheltered in place. More than a year later, the world
is still grappling with the effects of COVID-19, and the park and recreation
profession is no different. In fact, during the pandemic, participation in
many outdoor recreation-based pursuits has been at an all-time high for
many communities. This increased demand - coupled with ever-evolving
safety guidelines, protocols, staff and budgetary constraints - has created
additional challenges for many agencies.
Known for their resourcefulness
and creativity, several park and recreation
professionals discovered opportunities
within these challenging
conditions. These professionals have
employed creative problem-solving
to not only continue providing
quality services, but also develop
new and innovative approaches. In
many ways, the pandemic accelerated
industry innovation as agencies
put together creative service-delivery
models, including virtual programming,
video-based services, " programs
in a box, " etc. One could argue
that the pandemic empowered
recreation professionals to move even
further
beyond their
professional
comfort zones and explore new managerial
and operational strategies.
Finding commonalities across these
new approaches has the potential
to help the profession learn how to
better navigate future global events,
grow and move forward together.
To better understand how the recreation
industry has navigated these
unique times, 15 professionals were
interviewed to learn about their experiences
and responses to the glob10
Parks & Recreation | DECEMBER 2 0 2 1
al pandemic. The 15 public park
and recreation professionals ranged
from entry-level positions to CEOs,
and from rural to urban communities
across the United States. A set
of eight structured interview questions
were posed to each professional,
focusing on their immediate
responses to the pandemic, how the
global crisis has changed their agency's
operations, and visions for the
future. The results of these interviews
yielded four major findings:
1. Providing Leadership
in Community Risk
Management Efforts
Whether it
in their communities in responding
to the unexpected conditions
brought upon by the pandemic. For
instance, one professional noted
that having a thorough risk management
background and existing
framework helped them quickly develop
safety plans, reopening plans
and guidelines that were fluid and
rapidly evolving as new information
about the pandemic's effects
emerged.
Since
COVID-19 guidelines
often,
federal, state and local
change
many professionals
have
leaned heavily on local health
departments to help them make
decisions. Regular communication
and collaboration across the local
agencies
became increasingly
important, leading to communitywide
safety protocols, such as
masking,
physical
distancing
and cleaning of high-traffic/-use
areas. The need for staff to safely
monitor and maintain these new
precautions
is employees, participants,
communities or the public,
safety has been, and continues to
be, the most common focus and
concern. Assessing and minimizing
risk
always has been at the
forefront of every park and recreation
agency's mission and overall
operations - and the pandemic
only intensified this focus. Drawing
from this skill set, several professionals
shared how their agencies
were looked upon as leaders
| PARK S ANDRECRE AT ION . OR G
all while continuing to provide
essential recreation services to the
public - also was stressed by nearly
every professional interviewed.
2. Navigating Changes in
the Work Environment
When news of the pandemic broke,
a common initial concern expressed
by many of the interviewed
professionals was job security. This
became a prevalent concern because
of the cancellation of non-essential
events and the importance of safe
and protocols -

December 2021 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of December 2021 - Parks & Recreation

December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Intro
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover1
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover2
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 1
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 2
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 3
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 4
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 5
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 6
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 7
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 8
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 9
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 10
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 11
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 12
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 13
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 14
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 15
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 16
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 17
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 18
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 19
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 20
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 21
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 22
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December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 27
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 28
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December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 33
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December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 36
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 37
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 38
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December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 40
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December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 43
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December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 50
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December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 55
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 56
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover3
December 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover4
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2021
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