IPRF Professional Scholarship Recipients
"As a young professional in the parks and recreation industry, I greatly valued the experiences and insight I gained from attending the virtual 2021 IAPD/IPRA conference. Looking to further establish myself within the marketplace and understand what I can improve upon, I really thought the lessons presented in the Keeping Your Strategic Plans Fresh seminar were very informative and applicable to the work environment and projects I have been a part of. In particular, I think the recommendation of making strategic planning a fun and collaborative experience for all team members. Having a more engaged diverse team from an array of skill sets and backgrounds results in more and effective planning than a team consisting of disengaged and tunnel vision perspectives. As an individual and a person of color, I appreciated the efforts of the Dear Millennial Overcoming Stereotypes in the Workplace seminar to discredit common stereotypes that are assumed to be reflective of myself and others in my age group. I could see how that seminar would influence and change the assumptions of how certain individuals perceive young professionals entering today’s workforce. Another seminar that intrigued me was the Not in my Park! Regulating Controversial Park Activities seminar, which gave valuable tips and advice how to manage sensitive and complicated forums that may arise in park settings. Ultimately, attending this conference resulted in my desire to be more engaged in next year’s conference and other events planned for the remainder of the year."
"The opportunity to come together and learn with colleagues is always valuable. The addition of the ability to view those sessions you couldn’t see live has been an extraordinary benefit. I always leave the IPRA conference with new energy and ideas to grow our business and my career. Despite the obvious differences with this year’s event, the 2021 conference met all expectations. With our responsibilities becoming more diverse, this conference is unique in that it crosses so many lines. Personally, I learned new ideas to further develop our aquatics team, grow fitness engagement, expand services across generations, grow revenue, manage expense and risk exposure, incorporate sustainable practices, engage participants in training sessions, and more. Each of the sessions I attended during and following the live conference will benefit me and my agency."
"Attending the IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference is something I have witnessed my mother do for as long as I can remember, but this year was my first time attending as a professional working in the field. While I was excited to attend my first conference in Chicago, 2020 definitely had other plans. I am so grateful for the Illinois Park and Recreation Foundation for still allowing me to have this opportunity and attend my first conference virtually. As a young professional in parks and recreation, the Conference provides not only a wealth of knowledge, but also the opportunity to meet others in the field. This year, I was able to attend sessions held by leaders in our field, as well as up-and-coming professionals. Perhaps my most important takeaway from attending Conference this year was realizing that we as an industry are all struggling with the same things in the current situation, but we are all continuing to try our best to service our communities and persevere. As a recreation manager, I am well aware of how important the power of “play” is, but especially right now. At a time when we are being told to isolate for our health and safety, our mental health is on the decline. The sessions I attended sparked new ideas to try and engage our community, as well as manage staff and still take care of myself in the process. As a professional, I feel rejuvenated and excited about the new ideas I am able to bring back to not only my individual business unit, but my District as well."
"As a young professional in the world of recreation, I have seen firsthand the positivity and the love that goes into programming for an organization. Receiving this award to attend the IPRA Soaring to New Heights conference, has helped me be a better recreation specialist to help provide for my participants’ recreational needs It is at this conference, where professionals can meet other trailblazers in the field and see how they are having a positive influence in others’ lives. Through these interactions, I have learned how to make small changes to make big impacts.
Covid-19 has made this year different for all of us. We as recreation professionals have had to adapt even more so in this new climate, to ensure that we can still maintain the needs of our clientele while also still trying to improve the industry. During my time at this year’s virtual conference, I was able to benefit by seeing the different changes that other organizations were implementing virtually. It was interesting and inspiring to see how creative different park districts and special recreation associations have been during this time. Learning about different virtual programs and “social hangouts” has helped me visualize the next steps that I need to take as a recreation specialist to keep my participants interested and motivated.
The lessons and new criteria that I have learned at this year’s conference would not have been possible without this scholarship. I am forever grateful and hope to pay it forward by using the things that I learned to help evolve our field even more. Even in these trying times, we will continue to do our best to grow as organizations to provide more opportunities in recreation for those in need. As a member of IPRA, I have been provided with the necessary tools to become a leader within the industry. I thank IPRA for providing me with this unique opportunity."
"I was happy and honored to learn that I was a recipient of the Illinois Park and Recreation Foundation Scholarship. I am writing to thank you and the IPRF board for you generous, financial support that allowed me an opportunity to attend the 2021 IPRA/ IAPD Soaring to New Heights Conference. Because this was a virtual event, the format of this year’s conference allowed me the ability to participate in more sessions. As a result, I engaged in more discussion on trends, opportunities, and programs beneficial to recreational service and community involvement.
For example, in the Recreation of the New Way Session we discussed how to provide service in a safe environment and still allow for families to enjoy the activities. Agencies talked about creative and innovative ways to achieve their goals. I was able to take some of those ideas and share with my supervisor and team. One of the most beneficial discussions involved how the culture continues to evolve and we as providers must continue to innovate, adapt, enhance and implement programs to meet the needs of the clients. I was encouraged by the enthusiasm of ideas and suggestions of those who work in the field. This yearly event is beneficial to me as a Recreational Therapist as it allows me to network and partner with other agencies. I am truly grateful for the scholarship opportunity."