Q: We have a mission and a vision statement
for our department. They are both
very lengthy. No one really pays any
attention to them. Truthfully, most
employees don’t know what they are
good for. What good are they?
A: A mission statement should describe
very simply and directly what your organization
does every day.
A vision statement
should tell staff and customers what
you are striving to achieve in the future.
Again, in very simple and understandable
If employees don’t understand
these foundational elements of their work
then how will they know why they do
what they do?
If they don’t know the why
and the what of their work they really
can’t be very effective and efficient in
their efforts as an organization.
everyone in your organization (department,
division, center, etc.) clearly
understands why and what they do as it
relates to your mission and vision you’ll
be amazed at the results.
Q: How do you recruit citizens to be volunteer
leaders in local government?
A: A method that has been successful
for us is our version of a Citizens Academy.
The Community Associations Academy
selects (through application) 25 residents
who are current or aspiring community
Together, this cohort participates
in an eight-week educational program,
designed to instruct citizens on how we
work with and as local government.
program has shown that once our residents
have obtained a better understanding
as to how we operate, these ambassadors
are excited and motivated to participate
throughout our community.
Academy meets one night a week for
eight weeks for two and a half hours,
with each session covering a specific
organizational department or service
provider in our community.
concludes with a tour of the community
and a graduation ceremony where our
elected officials pronounce our graduating
—Audra Thomas, Management Analyst,
Community Associations of The
Woodlands (Texas), Parks and Recreation
Q: Should parks and recreation management
participate in emergency preparedness
A: Absolutely. Even more so today, those
who assume responsibility for others coming
into a particular venue better be ready
to assist should an emergency situation
occur. Not because of liability purposes
(though that is a great reason), but because
it is the right thing to do.
have been identified. Unfortunately, if you
ask majority of Americans what they can
do to protect themselves from chemical,
biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive
(CBRNE) threats, most don’t have
For example, most can’t distinguish
between how a chemical attack would
look versus a biological attack. The signs
are easy to see and even more important
can provide facts for responding that can
Parks and recreation managers
should consider preparing for CBRNE
threats. Preparing includes increasing
awareness and knowledge levels among
This does not only to make
them better at their jobs, but to prepare
them to protect their loved ones at home.
The Center for Public Health Preparedness
and Research at Emory University has
developed a simple, easy-to-use three-step
approach to help organizations prepare for
The Plan, Train, and
Exercise approach is just that. Experts
work to assess your facilities, plan the
response, train the staff, and exercise to
ensure a quick and appropriate response
to today’s threats.
Let your work environment
be the channel for individuals to
educate themselves about CBRNE and
other threats. Be a leader in protecting
your staff and users coming to parks and
—Sean Kaufman is the Director of
Programs at the Center for Public Health
Preparedness and Research in the Rollins
School of Public Health at Emory University,
Partner and Chief Public Health Officer for
Go2Gear Inc., and the Area Chair for the
Health and Sciences Department at the
University of Phoenix, Atlanta Campus.
Sean has several years of experience in the
fields of health education, crisis and risk
communication and emergency preparedness
and will give emergency preparation
presentations at Parks & Rec Business LIVE!
at Deer Creek State Park, near Columbus,
Ohio, Sept. 19-20.
Q: What new items are needed for an
emergency response kit?
A: Several. Unfortunately, there are several
threats we face today that may require
different types of equipment. A flashlight,
first-aid kits and radios have always been
included in emergency response kits.
However, today’s emergency kits should
include all of the above and:
1. Burn cream (extra)
2. Water and food
3. Emergency leader vests
4. NOAA radio
7. Information guide/communication
8. Two-way radio
10. Personal Prescriptions
Leaders do extraordinary things.
They prepare for the unexpected and
look around the corner to identify future
Including the items from above in emergency response kits doesn’t cost
much but can have a profound effect if
your location happens to experience a
For example, if there is an
explosion, having access to extra burn
cream will help prevent serious infection.
If there is a chemical event, supplies to
shelter-in place will save lives and provide
an alternative to getting in a car and
being caught in a stand-still traffic jam.
The items that need to be included to
address today’s threats don’t require
much money, just a new perspective.
know there are people out there who
want to make a statement. Recreational
venues can serve as that location. Picking
up a few extra items could save lives and
will make a profound difference when
the cameras are on and leadership is
asked, “What did you do to prepare for
Q: How are your volunteers organized?
A: The volunteer arm of Five Rivers Metro
Parks (Ohio) is a tightly managed division
of the agency. Facilities that have
large groups of volunteers such as the
public gardens of Cox Arboretum and
Wegerzen Horticulture center, have their
own full-time volunteer coordinators.
Our Historic Farm, Carriage Hill, also has
a large volume of volunteers and they too
have a full-time volunteer coordinator.
Facilities such as Possum Creek,
Adventure Central and Leland Center
employ part-time coordinators.
to facilities with dedicated volunteer
coordinating staff the entire agency is
supported by an overall central volunteer
manager who recruits, trains and supports
the smaller facilities that don’t have
enough need for dedicated staff.
volunteer, no matter where they are located,
belongs to an identified volunteer
group. Each of these groups has an
assigned Metro Parks staff person who is ultimately responsible for each of the
members of their group.
Below that staff
person is usually a senior volunteer or
leader, which we call volunteer chairs.
The staff person and the volunteer chair
work very closely together and then the
volunteer chair acts as the leader of the
rest of the volunteers. This method is
extremely efficient and effective!
person has only one (sometimes two or
three) people with whom they need to
communicate directly. It then becomes
the responsibility of the volunteer leaders
to disseminate the information.
person (of course), must do follow ups,
but it’s a very efficient system. The entire
team of personnel (volunteer coordinators)
report to the volunteer manager as
well as to the park managers of their
Each site volunteer
coordinator is responsible for two-way
communications to both the park manager
(for specific guidance and support of a
particular discipline or facility) as well as
to the volunteer manager (to assure that
equal management exists between all volunteers
—Kevin Kepler, Park Manager, Cox
Arboretum Metro Park, Dayton, Ohio.
Kevin is scheduled to provide more insight on
volunteers and master planning at Parks &
Rec Business LIVE! at Deer Creek State
Park, near Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 19-20.
Q: Are there any positives to all this
management structure? Or is it all just
risk management and legal protection?
A: There are absolute advantages to a
structured volunteer management program.
In managing volunteers it is essential
to know why people volunteer.
we have learned, especially with those
serving in a volunteer role within the
public sector environment, is that people
want to feel that they are contributing to
a better cause or to a bigger cause than
what they could do if they were doing
By having a management
network you can provide accurate, timely
and specific data to those giving to
prove the net worth of their service. You
can track very specific duties and key
successes so that recognition and thanks
can be directed to those who actually did
Highly organized volunteer
programs also provide the data for grant
writing, especially when matching funds
are involved. Most foundations and government
granting groups require documentation
of hours given by volunteers.
Risk management can be used positively
by demonstrating to volunteers that each
person is screened and fully checked out
before they are integrated, just like any
This fact alone has proven a
very positive thing among our older volunteer
groups. They like the idea that we
have background information on the
people that they are working around.
Q: What are some of the areas in which
A: We are proud to say that Metro Parks
volunteers serve in literally dozens of
We have physical worker volunteers
that help maintain our parks by
doing grounds work, snow removal, litter
control, garden maintenance, wood
working and so forth.
We have administrative-
type volunteers that help with
promotions, mailings, secretarial services,
and as gift shop workers.
We have interpretative
volunteers that assist with tours,
speaking engagements, fund raising,
writer and media presentations.
law enforcement volunteers that assist
our ranger division both in actual
enforcement as well as crowd control and
parking assisting at large events.
environmental volunteers that concentrate
in the stewardship department in
helping with deer management, water
quality management, exotic plant management
prairie management and bird
We have volunteers serving outside
of our facilities and on governing
boards that support the private industries’
participation with Five Rivers Metro
Parks. Our park commissioners themselves
Q: Do you allow volunteers to use Metro
Parks’ equipment and vehicles?
A: Yes, we do allow (with proper testing
and documentation) volunteers to drive
our vehicles and use our equipment.
Again, with proper training and verification,
even the strictest risk management
people can be secure with volunteers
doing basically anything regular staff
Q: Do you use youth volunteers?
A: Yes we do. They are our next wave of
future volunteers. We use youth volunteers
in all areas possible where law and
age restrictions are not a factor.