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Let's Talk Parks Podcast: Stories of Purpose-Driven Parks and Recreation Professionals

Let's Talk Parks Podcast: Stories of Purpose-Driven Parks and Recreation Professionals

By Let's Talk Parks

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1.29 Making The Switch To Remote Working with Dr. Teresa Penbrooke

Let's Talk Parks Podcast: Stories of Purpose-Driven Parks and Recreation ProfessionalsMay 21, 2020

Exciting News! [And Where to Find the Podcast!]

Exciting News! [And Where to Find the Podcast!]

Hello everyone! We have exciting news - we are bringing the Let's Talk Parks podcast BACK, this time with the support from BerryDunn! My hope is that you continue to feel inspired and motivated to make a difference in your communities by listening to these stories. 

I'm personally both excited and relieved for this support so I can focus on having amazing conversations with Parks & Recreation professionals like yourself. I think you'll hear in the first episode (releasing 9/15) that we now have capacity for greater creativity and storytelling.  

A couple of things to know: 

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my former podcast co-host, friend and colleague Marissa Moravec - she's the epitome of a passionate parks and recreation professional, and I can't wait until she makes an appearance on future episodes!

Thanks for your continued support through the evolution of the podcast.  

Until next time, Let's Talk Parks! - Becky

Sep 13, 202203:42
Can we LOWER the bar yet?

Can we LOWER the bar yet?

Link to donate to the CPRA fundraiser for Parks & Recreation Professionals who lost their home in the Marshall Fire:

Throughout the podcast, we've asked a consistent question: How can we raise the bar to make a positive difference in the communities in which we work?  But collectively as we've all reached the end of our ropes, we're all really, stinkin' tired.  And I'm starting to reject the idea of constantly needing MORE and BETTER.  What if we allowed ourselves to be okay, just this once, being RIGHT HERE.  And what if we allowed ourselves to lower the bar so that we could breathe, take up new hobbies, and be present with our families?  What if we rejected the notion that the next role, the next agency, the next version of myself would make me *THAT* much happier.  What if we STOPPED assigning so much worth as a human to our job title?  There is so much more to us than WHAT we do - so I'm going to spend more time figuring how WHO I AM. I'm letting go of the things that don't light me up, in hopes of making more space and allowing more goodness to enter my life.  I hope you do too. 

This episode I get a little passionate as you might be able to tell, but I hope it gives you the courage you need to stop doing the things that don't light you up.  You do amazing things, I love you, and until next time... Let's Talk Parks!

Jan 14, 202214:30
Challenging "Best Practices" in Parks & Recreation
Dec 09, 202134:34
[100th episode!] Inclusive Play by Design with Jill Moore
Dec 03, 202140:14
Programming for Hybrid Nature Experiences

Programming for Hybrid Nature Experiences

Did your agency pivot to virtual programs during the height of the pandemic?  Are you still using those programs today?  On this episode, Nate Bibat, Senior Naturalist at the Dunes Nature Center, comes on the Let's Talk Parks show to share how his organization was able to quickly pivot to online environmental education programs.  He shares the various tools and methods they used for the hundreds of students in their programs - including making videos on YouTube, launching a podcast, creating virtual tours on Google Earth, and so much more!  He also talks about how him and his team made those online programs more accessible for those with hearing or visual impairments.  Tune in to learn how these programs continue to evolve into hybrid learning experiences, where online pre-visits serve as a helpful way to introduce students and teachers to the content before they travel on-site.

Thank you to our sponsor, Landscape Structures for sponsoring this episode.  Learn more, find a playground consultant, and earn CEUs by visiting 

Join our weekly newsletter -->>

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Connect with Nate on LinkedIn -->

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Nov 18, 202153:32
Making Your Playgrounds More Inclusive and Inviting For All
Nov 11, 202152:07
Upcoming Series: Innovative & Inclusive Parks
Nov 04, 202104:26
Do you suffer from "imposter syndrome?"
Oct 28, 202135:48
Do You Really Need Public Speaking in Parks and Recreation?
Oct 21, 202113:57
Embracing the Seasons of Your Career
Oct 14, 202117:09
5 Alternatives to the Mailed Recreation Guide
Oct 07, 202115:13
Educating the Next Generation of Parks & Recreation Professionals
Sep 30, 202156:23
Turn Inspiration into Action
Sep 23, 202117:28
Make the Most of Conferences
Sep 16, 202133:25
Changing the Maintenance Game with Productive Parks
Sep 09, 202139:25
Why We Love Working with Active Adults

Why We Love Working with Active Adults

Marissa sits down with Kate Darcangelis from What the Rec to discuss all things active adults, or as many refer to them as: seniors. Marissa and Kate are both passionate about working with this age group and hope to encourage young and seasoned professionals to give this age group a try.  There are so many benefits to working with this age group, so take a listen!

Learn more about Kate from What the Rec -->> 

Join our weekly newsletter -->>

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Connect with Becky on LinkedIn -->

Connect with Marissa on LInkedIn-->

Sep 02, 202137:60
Play To Your Strengths

Play To Your Strengths

This week on the podcast, Becky jumps on the mic to talk about how to best utilize your strengths and interests to do more of what you love in your job. While many of our roles in Parks and Recreation allows you to be a "Jack of all Trades" - there can be benefit and opportunities to specialize.  If you've been thinking of narrowing your focus in your career, take a listen and reflect on where this new perspective might be able to take you! 

Join our weekly newsletter -->> 

Follow us on Instagram -->> 

Connect with Becky on LinkedIn --> 

Connect with Marissa on LInkedIn-->

Aug 26, 202124:22
Evolution of Podcasts in Parks & Recreation

Evolution of Podcasts in Parks & Recreation

In collaboration with Cort Jones from Open Space Radio and Paul Gilbert from Strategic Leadership, this episode is about podcasts in the field of Parks & Recreation.  We talk about why we are so passionate about podcasting, the different types of resources in the field, and how this information sharing is truly raising the bar.   Join our weekly newsletter -->> Follow us on Instagram -->> Connect with Becky on LinkedIn --> Connect with Marissa on LInkedIn-->
Aug 19, 202146:52
Raising the Bar 2021 Style

Raising the Bar 2021 Style

In this episode, Marissa and Becky share a preview of what's to come for the rest of 2021 - and how we see the field of Parks and Recreation adapting and raising the bar.  

Join our weekly newsletter -->>

Follow us on Instagram -->>

Connect on Becky on LinkedIn --> 

Connect with Marissa on LInkedIn-->

Aug 12, 202122:58
Have more fun at work

Have more fun at work

We're wrapping up season 3 with an episode about FUN. In this episode, Marissa and Becky discuss ten different ways to have more fun at work. Join our newsletter and follow us on Instagram for more content like this! Be back in August!
Jul 15, 202126:13
Advantages of Parent Involvement During the Hiring Process

Advantages of Parent Involvement During the Hiring Process

Marissa sat down with Corrine Daut, Recreation Coordinator at Raymore Parks and Recreation to discuss the challenges and advantages of hiring entry level staff...and sometimes their parents too.   

This episode came about when Marissa was reading through a thread on the Women in Parks and Recreation Facebook page. The discussion was about interviewing and hiring seasonal staff after their parents had involved themselves in the application process. Even as younger professionals ourselves, we can sometimes have biases against other generations and what comes with them when they apply as our support staff. Not all interactions with parents of our staff has to be negative. It can be to the benefit of the staff member as well as the district for parents to get involved in the hiring process. 

Jul 08, 202120:37
Gaining Influence In Your Agency with Chris Dropinski

Gaining Influence In Your Agency with Chris Dropinski

It's in our DNA to want more influence. Especially as Parks & Recreation professionals, we want our voice to be heard.  We want our share our ideas, relay insights from our patrons, and be respected as a leader in our agencies.  

Too often, we wait for a promotion or status to decide that we have *enough* power to influence.  But as Chris Dropinski points out in this week's episode, real power is something that is earned, not given. "Effective influencing is a skill and a very valuable one; power is not a skill, it is a result."  

This means that TODAY we each have an opportunity to influence others.  In fact, we influence all the time.  Everything we do can cause a chain reaction - just imagine the impact you've already made.

Knowing that you already have influence, the key now is to use it for good.  This week's episode is an in-depth conversation around how to influence without alienating others. Enjoy!  

Meet Chris Dropinski: Her current role as co-owner and Senior Principal at GreenPlay, spanning 20 years, builds on a strong foundation of 24 years of Parks and Recreation administration with nearly half of that as Director of the City of Boulder, Colorado, Parks and Recreation Department.  Armed with a teaching degree in addition to her P&R Administration degree, Chris has passionately helped move our profession forward, taking advantage of opportunities to serve in leadership and faculty positions ranging from non-profits and foundations, to the NRPA Rocky Mountain Revenue and Management School, and the National Association of Park Foundations.

As a Certified Parks and Recreation Executive, a fellow of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, and experienced consultant she continues to help organizations remain relevant in our ever-changing environment.  Living in Colorado with her husband Mike is extraordinary, and motherhood has been the joy of her life.

Jul 01, 202151:19
Managing Public Complaints (and your sanity)!

Managing Public Complaints (and your sanity)!

When you work in local government, you are bound to run into complaints and less-than-positive feedback. That's just part of the territory as a Parks and Recreation professional. But if you're someone who truly cares, It can be hard not to personalize their comments. In this episode, I go over 6 tips around how to overcome public complaints so that you can use them as motivation and learning experiences.

Jun 24, 202139:14
Take Action! Making Progress Through Red Tape

Take Action! Making Progress Through Red Tape

In this episode, Marissa and Becky discuss how we have found success in moving ideas forward in the field of Parks and Rec.  We talk about the barriers of red tape, the surprising pros and cons of it, and how to move past it.  We hope this episode is useful if you've been wanting to make progress on an idea or program, but haven't made traction.  Sometimes just changing your mindset can give you new energy and perspectives to keep going. 

Jun 17, 202130:20
What's it like to be a consultant in the field?

What's it like to be a consultant in the field?

It seems I've been getting more questions about being a consultant in the field, so in this episode I talk about why you might consider moving into a consultant role.  As a project consultant for GreenPlay LLC for the last five years, I feel very fortunate to work for a company that provides a great and supportive workplace culture. Although every role is different, I wanted to share my own personal experience so you can see if it might be a good fit for you. 

Jun 10, 202122:20
When it okay to disengage?

When it okay to disengage?

Today I want to talk about something that I think is really important, but I couldn't really find anyone talking about this at all. Its the idea that sometimes it's ok to be disengaged at work. As a supervisor, you never want your employees to disengage. But if you are a high achiever, intentionally disengaging can be a good thing. It can prevent you from burning out. It can prevent you from making irrational decisions.It can prevent you from resenting your job. 

Engagement has to do with how motivated you are at work. Apparently only 13% of employees are engaged.  When you are engaged, you are excited to come to work. You are full of ideas, of energy, of enthusiasm. You are moving your organization forward. You are making valuable contributions. You are aware of the big picture, and you are motivated every day to help get your organization to a better place.  

That means 87% of employees are disengaged. Many of our listeners are highly engaged employees. After all, they are listening to a podcast about the field. So knowing that you are usually really engaged, I want to recognize that we all have seasons of motivation, right? Some of us experience waves of energy and enthusiasm for our work on a weekly, monthly, or annual cycle. If you take time to notice your patterns, your moods, or your work output, you will find that it goes in cycles. You can't be ON all of the time. You are not a machine.  So knowing this, you can know that trying to be engaged ALL of the time is actually a recipe for burnout.

Jun 04, 202119:49
Fresh Ideas for Recruiting Quality Seasonal Employees
May 27, 202144:44
Prioritizing Important > Urgent
May 20, 202136:09
Mindfulness for Parks & Recreation Professionals

Mindfulness for Parks & Recreation Professionals

In this episode, Katie Garrett and Becky sit down to talk about the important of mindfulness in Parks & Recreation. If you've been struggling with burnout, overwhelm, or exhaustion then this episode is for you!  So often, professionals that are deemed "essential" become overworked when budgets, timelines, or resources get tight.  Parks and Recreation Professionals have been asked to step up in new ways - many of them more demanding than ever.  How do you keep your cool and stay calm when everything constantly seems urgent?  How do you practice mindfulness on a daily basis when everything around you seems demanding and too difficult to manage?  In this episode, I sit down with Katie Garrett, CPRP, from McHenry County Conservation District to talk about how we can practice mindfulness in our day-to-day work.  We could all use this reminder, so I hope you'll take a few minutes to listen to this episode when you get a chance! If you’re new here, welcome, and if you’re a long-time listener, welcome back!  Let’s talk Parks is a podcast where we share the stories of purpose-driven parks and recreation professionals who are committed to challenging organizational norms and raising the bar in the field.  We are an evolving resource to not only educate but also inspire up and coming Park and Recreation professionals to raise the bar in their agencies so that they can make a positive difference in their communities.  We also have a pretty cool newsletter that gets sent out every Thursday morning with this week’s podcast and a few other awesome stories- and you can sign up for that at if you haven’t already!
May 13, 202147:39
The Past, Present, and Future of Women in Leisure Services

The Past, Present, and Future of Women in Leisure Services

Women in Leisure Services (WILS) was started in 1935 as Chi Kappa Rho, a sorority for women in the field of parks and recreation by Helen I. Pontius.
She believed that women engaged professionally in the various fields of recreation could come together to promote unity of purpose, high standards of achievement, and a better understanding and appreciation of related endeavors for the attainment of professional goals. Such a group could also provide an opportunity to foster friendship and sociability, stimulate mutual helpfulness and loyalty, and provide professional services.
In this episode; Marissa sits down with three distinguished WILS members: Sonya Young-Jimenez from The City of Los Angeles Parks and Recreation, Ashley Wysocki from the City of Huntington Beach, and Dorothy Meyer who is a lifetime WILS member.
This episode is a reminder of how far women have come in the field of recreation over the last 86 years. These powerful female leaders give us the history of the organization and why it was so important for bringing up women in the field of parks and recreation. This organization has been developing a blueprint for the next 15 years, to continue pushing women in the field or parks and recreation forward.
May 06, 202139:47
A Must Listen Before Summer
Apr 29, 202150:31
Lesson Learned: Enjoy Where You Are Right Now 👇

Lesson Learned: Enjoy Where You Are Right Now 👇

What happens when you don't get the promotion you've been planning and hoping for? With anything that happens that doesn't go as planned, you may find it difficult to see the lessons learned. Sometimes in retrospect you may realize that you've been striving for the new role, new title, new responsibilities... but what you are ACTUALLY missing is enjoying where you are RIGHT now. RIGHT here. Today you have the power to choose to use your current situation, title, and role to help others and yourself in a positive way. You don't have to be at the top to lead, and you also don't have to be the leader *all* of the time to have a rewarding, meaningful career. It's a beautiful balance to learn when to push forward towards your goals and when to lean into having more fun and enjoyment in your day to day. Thanks for listening and enjoy this episode from Marissa Moravec as she talks about recent lessons learned in this week's episode.
Apr 22, 202106:00
The Art of Assertiveness
Apr 15, 202113:40
Bridging the Gap to Accessible Recreation
Apr 08, 202141:28
Maintain it Now, or Pay for it Later

Maintain it Now, or Pay for it Later

Raise your hand if you've ever completed a facility or park inspection, noticed a safety hazard, or budgeted for improvements in your facility. If you're in the field of parks and recreation; likely you've been involved in the maintenance of your parks or facilities in one way or another. Marissa sits down with Jeff Reinhard, retired Director of Parks and Planning from the Gurnee Park District to talk about the importance of maintaining our spaces. Learn about how far our maintenance departments have come over the last 40 years and the technology they use to maintain our spaces. Get to know about what our parks crews work on during different seasons. Explore how you can become more involved in parks and planning at your agency, despite your current role.

To join our newsletter, subscribe at

Apr 01, 202145:09
Adopting an Experimenter's Mindset
Mar 25, 202119:18
#OpenToWork - Strategies for Landing Your Dream Job
Mar 19, 202144:36
Lessons from the Road to LeadHERship with Dr. Tiffany Johnson
Mar 11, 202137:01
Where you work MATTERS
Mar 04, 202158:27
Feel Like You're "Underperforming" at Work?
Feb 25, 202118:58
Identity Crisis: When Work Becomes Your Entire Life
Feb 18, 202135:09
Keeping up with trends
Feb 11, 202127:19
2.32: Season 2 Wrap Up with Anthony Iracki

2.32: Season 2 Wrap Up with Anthony Iracki

Whew, we made it!   In this episode, Anthony and Becky sit down to reflect back on 2020 and think about the future of this next year.  As his last year of being a young professional, Anthony talks through some of his highlights as he moves on to the next stage in his career.  Becky talks about the transition between her passion project and making it into something bigger with Let's Talk Parks.   Enjoy this reflection of 2020!

Wishing you all the best in 2021!

Jan 01, 202145:15
2.31: How Did Working Moms Survive 2020? Marissa and Becky Look Back at the Year...

2.31: How Did Working Moms Survive 2020? Marissa and Becky Look Back at the Year...

Marissa and Becky sit down to discuss how we survived this year as working moms.  

We discuss what it was like to navigate a new normal of virtual learning, working from home, and transitioning back into the office.  

If you're a woman working in parks and recreation, how have you had to adapt?  

How did your views on goal setting, work/life balance, and mental health change this past year?

That's exactly what we discuss, plus more, on this episode of Let's Talk Parks.

Jan 01, 202140:51
2.30: Seeking A Balanced Approach to Success with Brittanie Propes
Dec 03, 202030:26
2:29 Making the Most of Year 1 as a Parks and Rec Professional
Nov 19, 202044:25
2.28 The New Normal with Tom O'Rourke

2.28 The New Normal with Tom O'Rourke

All agencies, public, private, and nonprofit have been negatively effected by the Coronavirus. There is not one agency or person who will not feel the effects. There is NO waiting to go back to the way it was. 

Tom O'Rourke is an experienced Park and Recreation Professional with over 40 years experience managing the people who manage great Parks and Rec agencies. Current Professor of Practice at Clemson University specializing in helping graduate students, (and some undergraduate,) understand the Innovative, Creative, and Entrepreneurial skills necessary to sustain the Park and Recreation profession into the future. Connect with him online -->

Nov 12, 202018:51
2.27 Empowerment Through Exposure with Atuya Cornwell

2.27 Empowerment Through Exposure with Atuya Cornwell

In this episode, Atuya and Anthony sit down to talk about how as park and recreation professionals, we have impact the lives in the communities we serve on a daily basis and create lifelong memories.  It is often said that we work so that others can play!  With that said, it is extremely important that park and recreation professionals prioritize their professional development and utilize various tools that helps to keep one connect to their why.

Mr. Atuya O. Cornwell is a certified park and recreation professional with over 15 years of experience. Atuya is an active member of NRPA and is passionate about connecting young professionals with professional development tools and opportunities. He is also the 2015 recipient of NRPA’s Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award.   Atuya has served on NRPA’s Program Committee, Young Professional Network Leadership Team and the Public Policy Committee.  Atuya has presented at the NRPA Annual Conference the last three years, where his ‘What’s Your Awesome Sauce?!?’ session received great reviews.Atuya is the proud son of a former Paralympic athlete and credits his father as the reason for his passion for sports and recreation. 

Nov 05, 202034:57
2.26 Five Tips for Protecting Your Mental Health This Week [Field Report]

2.26 Five Tips for Protecting Your Mental Health This Week [Field Report]

Hello everyone! This week is election week, and today specifically is November 3, election day. I want to come onto the podcast and remind you all to protect your mental health this week. We just don’t know what the future holds, so let’s focus on what you can control - which is your perspective, your actions, your mental health.
Nov 03, 202007:48
2.25: Preparing for your Best Mentorship with Meredith Lawrence

2.25: Preparing for your Best Mentorship with Meredith Lawrence

Have you ever had someone that truly believed in you?  Who truly saw your potential and walked alongside you to watch you succeed?  Who pushed you to the next level in your career?   That is the definition of a great mentor, and That's what a mentorship can do for you.

COVID-19 is going to deeply impact students and young professionals futures. Having the support you need is critically important right now.

Having a mentor can be a career (or even life changing) opportunity. But knowing how to find a mentor, or how to structure a mentorship, how to nurture that relationship can be a daunting task. You want it to be meaningful to both parties which requires some thought and intention.    As a young professional, sometimes it can be scary to reach out and talk with others that you look up to.  You know you could learn so much from them, but you really don't where to begin.

One thing that I think is important is to always be curious. Always assume you don't know it all. I try to have that attitude when I'm interviewing others for this podcast. For example,  I've heard a lot of mentorships, but when you get to talk with up and coming leaders, be a listener.  

I'm never afraid to ask the dumb question. I'm never afraid. Because I bet someone out there has the same question. And I actually think that type of attitude you need to have to have a successful mentorship.  

Or relationship for that matter.  The more I learn about mentorships, or even working relationships in general, is how important it is to come with an open mind, come willing to learn, but also to realize you can learn from both sides. A mentee can learn from their mentor, and a mentor can learn from their mentee. An employee can learn from their supervisor, and a supervisor can learn from their employees.  When you value each other regardless of your "level" or your "superiority" you are choosing to honor each other as people with valid experiences, expertise, and knowledge.  As a relationship grows, you begin to trust in one another. When you find a supervisor or mentor who trusts your opinion and counts on you as guidance, I believe that's when you have a really rich relationship that can be really meaningful.

In this episode, you will learn:
1. how to find a mentor
2. 2. what to ask mentors/how to form a relationship
3. 3. the power of asking for help

Let me introduce you to a future game changer in the parks and recreation field:

Meredith Lawrence, CPRP (  is the Recreation Program Coordinator at the City of Mendota Heights, Minnesota.  As chair of the MRPA Programming Section and chair-elect of the MRPA Young Professional Student Network, she is piloting a mentorship program in Minnesota. She is an active  member of the Minnesota Golf Course Superintendent Association, all while pursuing a Masters of Public Administration at Hamline University. She was awarded the 2019 Service for Merit Award for the Young Professional and Student Network of the MRPA, and was the recipient of the 2017 United States Tennis Association Northern Section Junior Development Award.

Oct 29, 202041:40