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The NC Recre8'er - is the Blog for NC Recreation and Parks Professionals. We will feature posts from NCRPA members and staff about all the latest news, insights and tips in our field and around the state. Topics will include but are not limited to: Health and Wellness, Outdoor Recreation, Athletics, Advocacy, Aquatics, Therapeutic Recreation, Special Events, Marketing, Parks and Greenways, Cultural Resources and more! If you are interested in being a guest blogger please contact Matt at NCRPA or 919-832-5868. The opinions of The NC Recre8'er (NCRPA) blog contributors don't necessarily reflect the editorial position of North Carolina Recreation and Park Association as a whole.


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50 at 50 | January 12

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, January 12, 2018

On the break between Christmas and New Year, I ventured out on a few of those chilly days to visit parks and found South Park in Fuquay-Varina. Having looked at the website, I was expecting to find just the park and what I found was so much more. South Park is 25-acres and is the location for many of the Town’s special events. I found fields for playing baseball, softball, and soccer along with a batting cage. There are 2 playgrounds, near the splash pad along with a picnic shelter. A quarter-mile track for walking/running is along the perimeter of the park and provides access to the Jeff Wells Trail.

In addition to the park and all of its amenities, on the adjoining property was the Fuquay-Varina Community Center. While exploring the facility, I found open play happening in one-half of the side-by-side gyms. In addition to several meeting/classrooms, there was a fitness facility and a demonstration kitchen. I loved the cooking tips on the wall as I could use them for cooking at home as well to avoid burned hands, missing an ingredient and the last tip was about experimenting with different herbs and spices - something I need to do more.

Back outside in the park, I saw several adults braving the cold weather to get in their steps on the track and a father was teaching his young kids how to drive the remote controlled car that I assume was a recent gift. Without many visitors nearby, it was a great open space to learn. I’m always amazed to see the many non-traditional reasons citizens visit parks.

For more information on South Park visit

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Tags:  50at50  fuquay-varina  parks  recreation 

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50 at 50 | January 5

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Thursday, January 4, 2018

This week’s visit is to the park I call “my state park” - William B. Umstead right here in Raleigh.  And if I think of it as ‘my state park’, yes, I have been there many times before.  But on January 1st as a First Day Hike participant, I got to experience many "new to me" parts of the park and I want to share my adventure with you.

In 1774, land grants opened the area for settlement and forests were cleared for agriculture.  While early farming efforts were successful, poor cultivation practices and one-crop production led to depletion and erosion of the soil.  In 1934, under the Resettlement Administration, federal and state agencies united to buy 5,000 acres of this submarginal land to develop a recreation area. The Civilian Conservation Corps, as well as the Works Progress Administration, helped construct the site.Four camps along with day-use and picnic facilities were built and the park opened to the public in 1937.  Originally two parks, in 1966, the Crabtree Creek and Reedy Creek areas were united under the same name; William B. Umstead State and encompasses just over 5500 acres.  

At 9 am on Monday 1/1/18 at a temperature of 17 degrees,  I honestly thought there would only be a few people crazy enough to bundle up and head outside for a 2-hour hike.  Well, I was wrong and that made me smile.  I was one of about 40 people ready to explore Umstead.  In the parking lot, we got our instructions and headed off on the Company Mill trail. I have hiked this trail many times before, but not with Ranger Billy Drakeford.  Although he has only been at the Umstead for about 1 ½ years, I found him to be very knowledgeable about the park and it was evident he had done his research..  

He took us to see several millstones that were works in progress and probably never made it to the mill.  We were introduced to an old Boy Scout camp council circle and learned how it is currently used for educational programs. While in the camp circle, we even sang a camp song.  Then our hike took us to the largest rock outcropping in the park.  Having hiked back to the point where we would return to the parking lot we were given the opportunity to extend the hike and visit a few more ‘hidden treasures’.  Next, we visited a stone building previously used for dynamite storage, the rusted out frame of an old Model A or T, the remnants of a building once used for smoking tobacco and wilderness survival shelters recently built by homeschool students.  I was impressed by the research current and former Umstead staff have done to collecting stories and information from descendants who once lived on the property.   

When the hike finished around 12:30 pm, I had forgotten how cold it was at the beginning.  Maybe because it was now 28 degrees or because I had such a fun time hiking and learning.  Either way, it was a great way to start my New Year and I’ll be looking to participate in future programs led by Ranger Billy.  

If you are looking to prepare for your #FirstDayHike 2019, consider taking part in some of the great hikes that will be offered through Hike NC a program of which NCRPA is a partner.  Hikes are scheduled to begin on March 20 - the first day of Spring.  If you are interested in hosting a hike this Spring, look for information coming out from NCRPA later this month.  

For more information on William B. Umstead State Park visit 

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Tags:  50at50  first day hike  hike  parks  recreation 

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YPN Blog: January 2018

Posted By Malik Diggs, UNC-Greensboro & Greensboro Parks and Recreation, Thursday, January 4, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Finding value in experiences you have with people and within programs is a tool that takes you a long way. Growing up, I always wanted to be a physical therapist, but when I got to college and began studying Kinesiology, that quickly changed. My first semester was over, and I was stuck not knowing what I wanted to major in - let alone my career choice. Young-minded and confused, I remembered my first real job with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation at Bette Rae Thomas Recreation Center under the award-winning, Recreation Employment Corp, or R.E.C., program. R.E.C. is a work-based learning program employing youth between the ages of 14-17 as employees/mentors at neighborhood recreation centers, nature centers and aquatic facilities. During my time there, I learned lessons about making a change, the impact the smallest interactions can make and overall how recreation can guide youth to better lives and adults to a more self-fulfilling one. That experience served as a precursor to what eventually would become my career, which explains why I am here today.

As fortunate as I was to have that past experience, the learning didn’t stop there. This year was my first time attending the Carolinas Joint Conference, and it was one of the most eye-opening and richest experiences I’ve ever had. The amount of knowledge gained, the people I met and conference as whole provided an immeasurable amount of joy and value. I met people who I now look to as motivation to keep pushing myself in the field of Park and Recreation because they shared stories and knowledge with me that I hope to one day attain. Along with knowledge gained, connections were renewed. I reunited with Terri Stowers, who recognized me from my time in the R.E.C. program; overwhelmed with joy, we discussed how impactful the program was for me and how she, along with the Bette Rae staff, impacted my decision to pursue a career in Park and Recreation. The joint conference is a highlight in my young career and an event I would highly recommend young professionals like myself to attend.

Now, I’m currently a Recreation Assistant for the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department and student at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I’m taking the knowledge gained at school and bringing it into my career. You really start to see the impact of experiences gained whether it be via school or another professional. A great personal example came after taking CTR-314, or Recreation Services with Underrepresented Groups, with Dr. Schleien, a marvelous professor. I feel I gained the ability to view facilities and situations through a lens of inclusion, so now anywhere I go, I’m always looking for a way to adapt activities and facilities to make them more accessible to everyone. Along with that experience, my curriculum and professors will offer many more lessons that will help me attain more skills that will prove worthy in my career.

Discovering my love for recreation was truly a blessing and helped me figure out what’s been right in front of my face the whole time - that Park and Recreation was my calling. Finding value in the experiences I’ve had since the age of 14 has made it easier for me to turn my knowledge into actions. It’s easy to talk the talk, but through enriching experiences, plus knowledge and lessons and with the help of the Greensboro Parks and Recreation department along with my facility director, Gina Carmon, I will become equipped with tools that will help me walk the walk. Therefore, professionals, whether you are 3 months or 20 years into your career, I challenge you to take the interactions you hold dear and turn them into outeractions in order to make a needed change in your community.  Make the change you know is needed, and be the difference you want to see.

Meet the Author

Malik Diggs is currently a student at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Recreation Assistant with Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Parks Management with a concentration in Community Recreation and Event Planning. He hopes to one day become a Director of Park and Recreation, but is taking it day-by-day while taking advantage of opportunities presented to him. He’s a proud dog dad of a Morkie by the name of Milo. His favorite quote is by Michelangelo: “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” He challenges you to push the envelope and make a change. Malik can be reached at



 If you are interested in being a guest author for the YPN Blog, please contact Nicole at or 919-832-5868.

Tags:  professional development  Programs  young professionals  ypn 

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50 at 50 | December 29

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Thursday, December 28, 2017
With the end of the year quickly approaching and the high temps in the 20’s, I ventured out to Holly Springs located in Southern Wake County for a visit to Bass Lake Park. I had heard about the park, but this was my first visit. Even though the temps were chilly, I was glad to see that I wasn’t the only one enjoying the park.

The focal point of the park is the 54-acre lake. In the last 1800s, a grist mill stood on the property until it collapsed during a storm in 1949. The dam burst in 1996 during Hurricane Fran and the lake was drained dry. In 1999, the Town acquired the property and began a lake restoration project. Bass Lake Park was completed in 2004 and offers a variety of opportunities to visitors.

In addition to the trails, the park has a conference center with a unique beach-house feel. This facility is available for rent parties, conferences, and weddings. There is also a North Carolina Environmental Education Center offering native animal exhibits, a reference library, and friendly and knowledgeable staff. I looked around but didn’t linger too long when I realized there were several snakes on display. The staff was testing games for an upcoming Nerf fight they will be hosting and it was interesting to chat with them about their plans.

The park is home to many species of native plants and animals and through a partnership the NC Community Fishing Lake Program stocks the lake with catfish, but fisherman will also find bass, bream, and crappie. If you don’t have a pole, there is also a free tackle loaner program. I walked along the 2-mile natural surface trail that borders the lake and connects with other Holly Springs Parks & Recreation greenways. Early in the walk, I came upon 2 ducks. They were sitting so still at first I thought they were decoys. In the woods along the lake, I noticed 2 very large boxes with big openings. When I circled back to the environmental education center, I found out they are owl boxes. It was in that same area that I scared up a hawk who flew off to a nearby branch.

With lots of wildlife, educational exhibits, enjoyable trails and the opportunity to rent a canoe when warmer weather returns, I’ll be making plans for another visit to explore the park from the water as well. For more information on Bass Lake Park, visit

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Tags:  50at50  environmental education  holly springs  parks  Recreation 

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50 at 50 | December 22

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, December 22, 2017
On one of those warm November weekends, I was able to make an impromptu trip to the Crystal Coast for the weekend.  We camped at the Cedar Point campground in the Croatan National Forest.  Being able to watch the sunset set over the White Oak River and hike the Tidelands National Trail, a 1.9-mile path divided into two loops that lend themselves to wildlife viewing was great.  

Cedar Point, at the mouth of the White Oak River, is bordered by a salt marsh and a coastal forest. The salt marsh, where fresh water meets salt water, stretches out like a sea of grass. This nutrient-rich wetland is a valuable habitat for commercial seafood, including fish, shrimp, crabs, and oysters.  The recreation area is part of the Croatan National Forest, a 160,000-acre tract on North Carolina's coast, bordered on three sides by tidal rivers and Bogue Sound.

We ventured out of the campground to explore Emerald Isle and found Emerald Isle Woods Park.  With 41 acres, it is located off of Coast Guard Road and accessible just as you cross the Intracoastal Waterway on the Emerald Isle bridge.  Complete with disc golf, a floating dock to enable kayak launching, a picnic pavilion and hiking/walking trails this park offers a variety of activities for visitors.  As a coastal community, the town has just under 4000 year-round residents and grows to as much as 50,000 during the tourist season.

From the parking lot, we walked past the pavilion along the boardwalk down to the dock.  It was great to see gentlemen coming up the dock with his kayak in tow. He told me comes there several days a week to paddle and get his exercise.  After enjoying some time along the water's edge watching boats and birds, we checked out the hiking/walking trails.  I was surprised when there were inclines on the trail as we traditionally think of the beach as being flat.  It was a very nice walk with lots of birds and trees to be enjoyed.  

If you find yourself being one of those 50,000 tourists, I recommend a visit to Emerald Isle Woods Park.  More information is available at

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Tags:  50at50  beach  Emerald Isle  parks  recreation 

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2017: Year in Review

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, December 18, 2017
Updated: Thursday, December 14, 2017

It was a great pleasure seeing so many of our at the 2017 Carolina’s Joint Conference last week! Now that conference is over and 2017 is almost completed, this blog will look back at some of my favorite NCRPA wellness initiative content from 2017.


  •  In November, the NCRPA wellness blog covered the results from a recent NRPA Park Pulse survey. The survey found that three in five Americans would take up walking or jogging through local parks and trails if they were advised to be more physically active by a doctor! Personally, I think that it is great that parks and recreation is being looked at as a potential solution to fight against the health afflictions that are affecting America. Click this link to read the blog post!
  • The 10-minute Walk campaign is the start of a multi-year partnership between cities and mayors across America to increase access to parks. According to NRPA, “Beginning in 2018, the campaign partners will be working with cities across the country on measurable policies and strategies to advance the 10-minute walk vision.” Check out this link to read more!
  •  In May,  the wellness initiative interviewed Greg Walker, Director of Fletcher Parks and Recreation about their numerous community partners in wellness. Click this link to read the interview. If your department has any cool wellness partnerships, I’d love to know about it. Email me at to share!
  •  Also in 2017, the NCRPA Team was fortunate enough to receive grant funding for stand up desks! Sitting for long periods of time is commonly known to be bad for overall health. According to the Washington Post, risks of sitting for prolonged periods include heart disease, sore shoulders and back, and poor circulation in legs. This can cause problems for those of us with jobs that require us to sit down. Click this link to learn more about stand up desks!
  •  Healthy Out-of-School Time, or HOST standards, were created by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation , and give out of school time providers a great resource to offer healthy snacks and physical activity to children. Click this link to learn more about HOST Standards and how your department can adopt some of them.

I hope that you have enjoyed all of the exciting health and wellness content that the NCRPA Wellness Initiative has offered this year! With the holiday season approaching, the weekly wellness bulletin is taking a brief hiatus and will return in January along with new content and some big news! Have a restful and enjoyable new year!

Until next time,


Tags:  health  healthy living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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Conference Wellness Tips

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, December 11, 2017
Updated: Monday, December 4, 2017

In honor of our conference, this week’s wellness blog focuses on how to stay healthy when you are away from home.  These five conference wellness tips will allow you make the most out of your time in Greensboro!


1. Utilize your hotel’s fitness room for a quick workout! You would be surprised at how many health benefits just 30 minutes on a treadmill can burn. Both of our conference hotel locations offer fitness rooms for you to conquer this. Waking up a little earlier to walk on the treadmill in the morning will help you get your day started off the right way.


2. Make sure to get a full night's sleep! This will give you more energy throughout the day. Determine what time you need to wake up to make the most out of conference, and plan accordingly the night before. It is recommended by doctors that the average adult needs 7.5-8 hours of sleep every night.


3. Make healthy food choices! Try to eat fresh fruits and vegetables everyday while at conference. If you have any fruits and vegetables at home, bring them along! They will serve as easy snacks to save money and incorporate some freshness into your hotel diet. Also, most restaurants offer menu guides on the healthy food options they offer. Use these to make healthy choices when eating out.


4. Take a stretch break in between conference sessions. Use this time to stretch those muscles and walk around. Stretching is important to do throughout the day, and it gets the blood flowing throughout your body. For some more information on the health benefits of stretching, and some tips to maximize your stretching, please check out this article.

Get out and explore some of the great parks and facilities that Greensboro has to offer! If you have some extra time in between your busy conference schedule, check out some of the great facilities and parks in Greensboro. For a full list of Greensboro Parks and Recreation facilities and parks, check out this link.

At this year’s conference, we have a ton of awesome wellness-related sessions! Attend the sessions marked with Bitmoji Diquan to learn how to incorporate health and wellness programs, policies, and infrastructure in your department.

I hope these tips help you make healthy choices while at conference. Looking forward to spending time with all of our conference attendees over the next few days!

Until next time,



Tags:  carolinas joint conference  healthy living  NCRPA Wellness  wellness 

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50 at 50 | December 8

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, December 8, 2017
Updated: Thursday, December 7, 2017
This past weekend was the last camping trip of the year for me. I have had some great adventures camping and this last one was no exception. We headed out to Morrow Mountain State Park for a weekend of camping, hiking, campfires, time in the hammock, good food and good friends. And completely out of our control, we had wonderful weather for December.

Located in Stanly County, development of the park began in the 1930s through the efforts of a local committee interested in establishing a state park in the area. By 1937, more than 3,000 acres of land had been acquired, much of it donated by the citizens of Stanly County. The park was opened to the public in the summer of 1939. Early development of park property was a cooperative effort between state and federal governments. Work crews of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Work Projects Administration constructed many of the facilities. Additional facilities were added with state funds in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, the park covers 4,742 acres.

While exploring the park, I found a great swimming pool and community building that is connected to the park office. The day I was there, a group was prepping for an event later that day. The park also has a great museum that highlights the history of the area and the park. After the 3 mile hike from the museum to the top of Morrow Mountain, I had the opportunity to read several of the educational exhibits about the volcanic rock Rhyolite. This rock was very popular with prehistoric peoples. The rock exhibits a property called conchoidal fracture. When the rock is broken, it forms shell-like fractures that create a very sharp edge that can be shaped into sharp points, knives, scrapers, and axes.

While at the top we enjoyed our lunch at a picnic shelter that overlooked the area and even had a fireplace. After the 3 mile trek to the bottom, it was time to relax, shower and prep dinner. In my opinion, it was a great way to spend the day.

If you are looking for a quiet place to camp and maybe even enjoy the nearby rivers and lakes, consider a visit to Morrow Mountain. With one campground loop open year-round, you could always visit the next time we have an unseasonably warm weekend. Visit the State Parks website at to learn more about Morrow Mountain State Park.

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Tags:  50at50  Morrow Mountain  parks  recreation 

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YPN Blog: December 2017

Posted By Monique Floyd, Greensboro Parks and Recreation, Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Parks and Recreation…more than you think

Many times while pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Parks and Recreation Management, my family and friends would often ask the age-old question, “so you want to be a Park Ranger?”, as if that is the only position one would have in this profession. Unknowingly to them, the field provides a breadth of career choices that have long been a staple in the local communities in which parks and recreation organizations serve. Some may have believed that the little league baseball teams they grew up playing on were run by the local grocery store owner or that coaches would randomly show up on Saturday mornings and impromptu games would just happen. Perhaps, the mythic ideas that dance and music programs held at local recreation centers were solely made possible by a private sector musician, or that halftime entertainment at collegiate and professional games were just a byproduct of the experience. Whatever the thought may be, many Parks and Recreation professionals are the brains behind many programs in the community such as various sport leagues, dance classes, special events, community gardens and the operation of the park system amongst other year round activities. Simply enough, Parks and Recreation is more than you think.

Like the field itself, one may venture to assume that all you will do at a professional conference is sit through long lectures aimed to give you data and information to help you become a better professional. I, on the contrary, believe the 2017 Carolinas Joint Conference will surpass those preconceived notions about what a conference entails. The 2017 Carolinas Joint Conference will offer a plethora of professional advancement ideas and opportunities to help you gain more knowledge, network and socialize with other like-minded professionals. The conference will offer educational sessions, tours of facilities, and have a host of socials for students and young professionals to attend.  With so many sessions to choose from, you may feel overwhelmed and question “what if I choose the wrong one? How can I be sure that what they are discussing is beneficial to someone like me?” As a guide to assist you in choosing the right sessions, the conference program will have session identified for students and young professionals marked with a lightning bolt symbol.

While students and young professionals are free to attend any sessions they would like, here are three of the several sessions identified with students and young professionals in mind. If you are attending conference for the first time, consider attending “Navigating 101- How to Make the Most of Your Conference Experience.” This session will give you great insight and tips on what to expect, what to do, and techniques on maneuvering in social networking environments with other Parks and Recreation professionals while at the conference. Additionally, upon entering the field as a recent graduate or young professional we often secure entry level positions such as Recreation Center Directors, Sports Coordinators, or Program Specialists to name a few. These positions and others like them help us embark on our professional journey and often place us in the middle of the organization’s and community’s political scene. The panel session “Community Recreation and Politics: How to Navigate the Muddy Waters” will provide attendees methods for how to interpret policy and procedures and better understand the chain of command when it comes to addressing political concerns from patrons. If you have the desire for growth and to be or do more in the profession, it is important to understand that the art of growth in the field takes preparation and action. The panel session “Upward Mobility: Cultivating the Skills to Excel in the Profession” will outline strategies used by professionals that may help you in your journey of moving up in the profession.

There will be other educational opportunities that include Resume and Mock Interview Drop-In Sessions, as well as off-site innovation institutes, including a student-only tour. At the resume review and mock interview sessions, you will be able to receive immediate feedback on your resume and interview presentation skills from current Parks and Recreation hiring managers. If you are Interested in exploring what the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department has to offer, in terms of careers and facilities, sign up for the free tour options at registration on the first day of the conference. This is a great way to get a glimpse into how the City of Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department CARE's (creates economic impact, advances conservation, rejuvenates health and wellness, and enhances quality of life) by providing a variety of opportunities at facilities and spaces that help build better lives and better community.

Last but not least, if you are looking for the chance to network and be social there are several opportunities for you. If you are looking for a mentor, sign-up to participate in the mentor-mentee lunch, where you will be matched with an experienced professional based on your professional interests. If you are looking to explore the city after a long day of attending sessions, come to Boxcar Bar + Arcade for a student and young professional social on Monday evening. Take along your conference badge for the chance to redeem a few free tokens.

Since social media is such a major part of our lives and a great way to share your experiences with friends and peers, be on the lookout for selfie stations and social media challenges throughout the conference, and be sure to tag any social media posts from conference with #NCSCParksCon. Stay up-to-date by downloading the 2017 Carolinas Joint Recreation Conference App on your smartphone and checking the conference website. As you can see, at this year’s conference there will be more than you think. We look forward to seeing you all there partaking in all that is in store for you. More information on all student and young professional conference happenings can be found here.

Meet the Author

Monique Floyd is a two time graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She obtained both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Parks and Recreation Management, with a concentration in Leisure Studies. She is currently serving as one of the Assistant Athletic Directors with the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department.  Her role consists of programming the Adult Softball and Basketball leagues as well as managing the field allocation and daily rentals of the department’s baseball and softball facilities. She enjoys being active and playing basketball - she was a four-year starter for UNCG’s Women’s Basketball team. She also enjoys hanging with family, exploring photography and listening to music in her spare time.

Monique can be reached at or 336-373-2946

 If you are interested in being a guest author for the YPN Blog, please contact Nicole at or 919-832-5868.

Tags:  carolinas joint conference  conference  student  young professionals  ypn 

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Winter is (almost) here!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, December 4, 2017
Updated: Thursday, November 30, 2017

Happy December! With the holidays, cooler temperatures, and shorter days, December can be a tough time for health and wellness. This wellness blog will give you and your department a few tips on how to promote winter wellness in your community.

While many people in your community exercise outdoors during most of the year, Winter arriving may cause changes to their routine. This could leave many people in your community without regular exercise. If your department has a fitness facility, one way to combat this would be to offer a reduced price seasonal pass to appeal to these individuals. If your community does not have a fitness center, you can still encourage people to use your facilities to stay active! Open gym sessions and group fitness courses can be great ways to get people active.

There are also a number of creative, fun winter themed ideas that your department can consider holding this winter. Artificial snow is a great option for providing the required snow when the weather’s not cooperating. At these events, snow is usually set up on a hill for sledding, or in a field for other snow activities. Even some of our departments from the coast have success with artificial snow! If your department is located near a ski resort, establish a contact with them. You could potentially hold partner events where more people can have fun in the snow. One company I have heard of that a number of our departments who hold snowy events use is Snow My Yard.

These fun events are great ways to promote physical activity! According to Orthopedic surgeon Angela Smith from, ice skating builds muscles, boosts balance, flexibility, quickness, and agility. Additionally,  Both sledding and other traditional snow activities burn calories and are fun ways to get people active in the colder weather.

Last year, the Wellness Blog discussed an annual snow event hosted by Swansboro Parks and Recreation. Click this link to review the old blog post.

Hopefully, this wellness blog has given you some tips on how to make the most out of the colder weather that winter brings. Encourage your communities to stay safe and get outside this winter!

Until next time,


Tags:  fitness  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness  winter 

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50 at 50 | December 1

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, December 1, 2017
Updated: Thursday, November 30, 2017
In 1998 as an NCSU student doing my internship, I spent my summer in Cabarrus County working with what is now Cabarrus Active Living and Parks. Through the years, I have maintained friendships with many of those who helped me get real-world experiences that summer and have had to opportunity to also work with them professionally. In the 29 years since I’ve been gone, they have added new parks and expanded on the school park program. On a recent visit in the area, I was able to visit Rob Wallace Park.

Rob Wallace Park is a 143-acre park with natural habitat and plans that will phase the land into a modern and green space. The park has a boardwalk, fishing pond, mountain and bike trails, playground and picnic areas, and the park office. Future plans include nature classrooms, additional play areas, piers and trails that use the natural resources in the area. And from the website, I found out an aerial adventure park is under consideration for this space.

My Saturday morning visit included time to walk some of the trails, especially the path around the fishing pond, and enjoy the porch swing out by the pond and garden. While out in the park, I noticed what I thought was trash in the woods and later realized it was part of the Woodland Wonders trail, complete with a sign indicating I should explore at my own risk. At the picnic shelter, I saw a very nice sign that was hinged to indicate how the shelter can be reserved and that it has already been reserved (check out the photos to see this). I love how our park & recreation agencies are informing captive audiences. This is the second time, I’ve been informed about upcoming park events while in the bathroom. Very clever to have a sign that can be updated over the hand dryer.

Before leaving the park, I went inside the park office to find a number of exhibits. While talking to a staff member, he told me about a trail camera in the park and how they have ‘captured’ deer, wild turkeys, and bobcat. But his final greeting to me as I left the building was the most impactful. He said, “Enjoy your Park”. It was fantastic to encounter someone who has this kind of enthusiasm for their park and wanted to share it with me.

For more information on Rob Wallace Park located at 12900 Bethel School Road in Midland, visit

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Tags:  50at50  Cabarrus County  parks  recreation 

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Holiday Family Health and Wellness

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, November 27, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, November 21, 2017

With the holiday season upon us, now is the perfect time for you and your department to promote family friendly health and wellness in your community. Children are out of school for winter break and their parents/guardians likely having a few days off. This creates a great opportunity for family health and wellness! This wellness blog will give you a few easy ideas to promote family health and wellness in your lives as well as your community.

According to a PBS article, “Children are watching their parents’ every move, mirroring their every action; if parents are sedentary, there is a good chance their children will be too.” The article goes on to state “However, parents who eat healthily and exercise with their children on a regular basis are teaching them many valuable lessons.” Participating in health activities as a family is a great way to promote health and wellness to children, and may help create long-lasting habits in a child’s life.

Have you heard of the #OptOutside movement? Each year, REI (and a few other retail stores) close for Black Friday, and encourage the public to get outside  and active. This movement uses the social media hashtag #OptOutside and encourages people to post pictures of their outdoor experience. Although your department will likely not start a national campaign, encouraging families to get outside during their vacation time can be an easy and effective way to promote health and wellness.

First, select a park, trail, or activity that is family friendly in your community. Make sure that your location is appropriate for people of all ages. Once your ideal family-friendly location is selected, start spreading the word to your community by using social media, flyers, and other ways of communication. Be sure to emphasize that this is a great way to spend quality family time together during the holidays. Sometimes, it just takes a little push to get people outside and active! Create a local hashtag for family’s to use to share their experience on social media!

Additionally, your department may be holding seasonal events to celebrate this time of year. Whether you are holding a holiday themed 5k, winter wonderland, New Years celebration, parade, or other special event, there are some easy ways to encourage family health and wellness. Set up a table at the event that includes family friendly and healthy holiday recipes.

Below, are a few additional ways to promote family health and wellness in your community this holiday season:

  • Family Scavenger Hunt: One way to get families active and engaged in your parks is to create a family scavenger hunt! Write holiday related clues for 10 to 15 objects in your park or facility and print out a few copies of the objects. Families can then complete the scavenger hunt by taking photos of the objects. Once the hunt is completed, a small prize can be given out.

  • Family Fun Night: Family fun nights are a great way to get the whole family engaged. When planning a family fun night, choose games that are appropriate for the whole family. Simple games like capture the flag and obstacle courses come to my mind. Most importantly, provide a safe space and opportunity for active family fun.  A past wellness blog post discussed family fun nights in depth.

  • Family Cooking Courses: Family cooking courses can be used to introduce fun, easy and healthy recipes that are appropriate for the whole family. There are a lot of good resources online for finding family-friendly healthy recipes. Try Food Network or All Recipes for help.

  • Family Walking Group: Walking groups are a different way to get families active. Start a walking group geared towards families! Children, teenagers, and parents can connect with each other while walking in safe and fun locations. The NCRPA Wellness Webinars have covered running and walking groups in the past. Check out recordings of these webinars for extra help!

I hope that this blog post has given you some ways to promote family health and wellness in your community! If your department has a great family wellness program, I’d love to hear about it. Email me at to share!

Until next time,


Tags:  Family  Family Time  Health  NCRPA Wellness 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, November 20, 2017
Updated: Monday, November 13, 2017

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is almost here! With the holiday season upon us, it can be hard to keep up with normal healthy routines. This wellness blog will give you some tips to have a healthy holiday.


It would not be Thanksgiving without the delicious food! The big event of the day for many American families is gathering around the table and sharing an indulgent meal. While this one day of delicious food will likely be a part of your traditions forever, there are a few simple ways to make the day a bit healthier that will leave you feeling better at the end of the day.


1. Eat your vegetables:  Roasted vegetables can be a tasty and healthy Thanksgiving side dish! Instead of filling up on less healthy options, eat extra roasted vegetables instead. Not only will eating extra vegetables help you avoid less healthy options, but they can be a great source of nutrients.

2. Portion control is key: On Thanksgiving Day when all of the food looks so delicious, I sometimes find myself eating way more than I probably should. This results in me feeling terrible after the meal. To avoid this feeling, make sure you use appropriate portion control! This article has some easy guidelines to follow to make sure your feast is appropriately sized.  

3. Don’t skip meals: I must admit that in the past, Thanksgiving dinner was my only meal of the day. Although you may think that skipping breakfast will “leave more space” for dinner, it is an unhealthy game to play. Instead eat a light, healthy breakfast to start your day. Skipping breakfast (and meals in general) can lead to overeating later in the day.

4. Incorporate exercise into your day: If the weather is nice, Thanksgiving can be a great day to go for a relaxing walk outside. Gather your friends and family and make it a new tradition! Additionally on Black Friday, “#OptOutside”, get active and find time to explore one of your local parks.

5. Help clean-up after the meal: Although this tip is not the most fun, doing normal household chores can actually be a great way to burn calories! So between the food, family, and football, help clean up!


If your department is having a Thanksgiving celebration, try adopting some of these practices. You can still promote wellness in the workplace, while enjoying all that Thanksgiving has to offer. I hope you all have a healthy and happy Thanksgiving!


Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  thanksgiving  Wellness 

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50 at 50 | November 17

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, November 17, 2017
Updated: Thursday, November 16, 2017
When I turned off Rocky River Road in Charlotte into Reedy Creek Park, I didn’t realize all the great things I was going to find on the inside.  The park and preserve are a combined 927 acres.  In the 125 acre park, I found athletic fields, shelters, a disc golf course, community garden, ponds, fishing piers, and a dog park.  One observation I had at the dog park was a gentleman with braces on both of his knees.  As he was watching his dog run and frolic with other dogs, I realized this might be the only opportunity for exercise for the dog.   

Reedy Creek Nature Preserve preserves habitat for 109 species of birds, 15 species of mammals, 20 species of reptiles, and 12 species of amphibians and has 10 miles of hiking trails. 

At the end of the main road, I found myself at a T intersection, I went left and found the Carolina Panthers themed Play 60 challenge course which opened on October 11.  Represented by Cunningham Recreation, this is the10th GameTime Challenge Course in NC.  First created five years ago, this course is “NFL combine meets Ninja Warrior”.  The Challenge Course is an obstacle course that incorporates elements of an NFL Combine workout and the popular Ninja Warrior activities.  It also features a 40-yard dash with precision timing.  At the start, I found a ‘pep talk’ with recorded words of encouragement from various Carolina Panthers players.  In addition to having a timed 40-yard dash, there is a time-tracking element for completing the course.  Through the app available to participants, you can track and compare your times with others on this course or other GameTime Challenge Courses.  It was great to watch kids, both young and old, try multiple times to improve upon their times.

Upon returning to the T intersection, I headed towards the Nature Center.  Built in 1982, the center features live, native animals, an exhibit hall, a classroom, and a gift shop. Outside, there is a National Wildlife Federation certified Backyard Habitat Garden which includes bird feeding stations, butterfly gardens, and a demonstration compost area and nature play area.  While in the restroom, I discovered a unique publication - "The Reedy Creek Toilet Paper".  Taped to the mirror, it was a 1-page flyer about events and features all happening at the Nature Center. Talk about reaching a captive audience while washing your hands!

Reedy Creek Park & Nature Preserve have so many features to appeal to the many varied interests of citizens.  I was impressed with how well the active and passive components of the park were intertwined to provide enjoyable opportunities to everyone. For more information on Reedy Creek Park and the Nature Preserve and Center, visit

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Tags:  50at50  Carolina Panthers  GameTime  Lowes  Meckleburg County  nature  parks  recreation 

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Parks for Health

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, November 13, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A recent NRPA “Park Pulse” survey found that three in five Americans would take up walking or jogging through local parks and trails if they were advised to be more physically active by a doctor! This wellness blog will detail some of the findings, and share some ways for your department to get involved.

In the past few years, the idea of Park Prescriptions has been increasingly growing. Doctors are essentially prescribing their patients to go outside and get active, something that often involves using local park systems.  (to find out more about the Park Prescription model, please check out this website!) The findings of the survey indicate that the general public agrees with and is willing to accept this model.

Below, I’ve included some of the key findings from the Park Pulse survey, courtesy of NRPA:

  • Over 3 in 5 Americans (63 percent) would take up walking or jogging through local parks, trails or around the neighborhood if they were advised to be more physically active by a doctor

  • One in three Americans say they would work out at a local gym or rec center

  • Baby boomers are more likely than Gen Xers or millennials to take up walking or jogging through local parks, trails or around the neighborhood if they were advised to be more physically active by a doctor

  • One in three parents would ride a bicycle at a local park, trail or around the neighborhood versus one in four adults without a child in the home saying they would do the same

So how can your department tap into this movement? Try approaching your local physicians with some of the results of the survey! It does not have to be a full-blown park prescription program, but rather letting the medical professional that your facilities would be a great resource for their patients to use to exercise.

If your department is interested in establishing a partnership with medical professionals, here are a few tips to help:

  • Compile materials to distribute to medical professionals.

  • Get creative when looking for potential medical provider partners

    • Use the internet, phonebook, and word-of-mouth when finding medical providers to partner with.

    • University medical programs, local hospitals, and private practices can be potential partner

It is great to know that parks and recreation is being looked at as a potential solution to fight against the health afflictions that are affecting America. Through your programs and facilities, our field can make a big difference, and it’s great to know that others are realizing it too.

Until next time,


Tags:  Health and Wellness  Healthy Living  ncrpa wellness  Wellness 

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