Management & Mission Q&A

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.

Bill Potter

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.

The Academy

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.

Many threats

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

save lives.

Parks and recreation managers

should consider preparing for CBRNE

threats. Preparing includes increasing

awareness and knowledge levels among

staff members.

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

emergency situations.

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

recreational venues.

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

5. KI

6. Flashlight

7. Information guide/communication


8. Two-way radio

9. Whistle

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

CBRNE event.

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


Sean Kaufman

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.

In addition

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!

The staff

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.

The staff

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

respective reserves.

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

something solo.

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

the work.

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

other staff.

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.

Kevin Kepler

Q: What are some of the areas in which

volunteers serve?

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.

We have

law enforcement volunteers that assist

our ranger division both in actual

enforcement as well as crowd control and

parking assisting at large events.

We have

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

are volunteers.

Kevin Kepler

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


Kevin Kepler

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.

Kevin Kepler