293 episodes

Park Leaders connects the wisdom of Park Managers, leaders in the park system, and thought leaders of the business world with up and coming park leaders. This is the show for Park Rangers, Park Managers, and leaders who want to have an impact. Join host Jody Maberry as he talks to park leaders from all over the world.

Park Leaders Show Jody Maberry

    • Education
    • 4.8 • 44 Ratings

Park Leaders connects the wisdom of Park Managers, leaders in the park system, and thought leaders of the business world with up and coming park leaders. This is the show for Park Rangers, Park Managers, and leaders who want to have an impact. Join host Jody Maberry as he talks to park leaders from all over the world.

    Talking About the National Recreation and Park Association

    Talking About the National Recreation and Park Association

    "Parks can be a great antidote to social isolation and mental health struggles.  Yet the only way to do that effectively is to invest in our parks and make sure that the experience that people have when they go is positive and supportive of those health outcomes."
    Key Moments
    05:31 The Impact of Local Parks on Personal Growth
    08:39 NRPA's origin and evolution, partnership with parks.
    11:39 Protecting Natural Spaces for Future Generations
    13:33 NRPA Resources and Geographical Connection
    16:44 The Importance of Parks and Recreation for Community Health
    21:49 Health and Tourism Being Vital for Community Welfare.
    26:17 Partnerships Supporting Parks and Recreation.
    Connect with Kristine
    Bio on NRPA Website
    LinkedIn Kristine Stratton
    Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/
    While on my way to the National Association of State Park Directors conference in Lake Tahoe, I happened to share a ride with Kristine Stratton, the president and CEO of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Her friendly nature sparked a conversation where we discovered our shared passion for the challenges and opportunities that parks present across various states. It only seemed right to have her join for a conversation.
    In this episode, Kristine shares her journey, from an outdoorsy upbringing in Maine and a career in public broadcasting to her influential role in environmental policy and now at NRPA. The NRPA is instrumental in supporting local parks and recreation nationwide, providing essential resources, advocacy, and professional development for over 164,000 full-time park professionals and millions of volunteers.
    During our conversation Kristine and I discuss the impact of parks on community health, economic growth, and the well-being of residents, as well as the pivotal role of the NRPA in fostering connections and driving progress in the field. She also shares insights into the NRPA's initiatives, such as their professional development programs, federal grants, and significant legislative advocacy work.
    Make sure to listen to this episode to learn more about the invaluable work of the NRPA and the profound difference well-supported parks can make in our communities. You do not want to miss Kristine's inspiring stories and her call to action for park leaders to utilize NRPA's vast resources to enhance their impact. 
    If you’re a park leader, make sure to tap into NRPA’s member platform for training and guidance. Grow with their resources and connect with peers.

    • 30 min
    Creating Experiences for Normal People

    Creating Experiences for Normal People

    "The general public is not impressed with how much you know. They're impressed with how much you've inspired them to know more about the places they visit."
    Key Moments
    02:04 Creating Park Experiences for New Visitors
    07:10 The Challenge of Information Overload in the Digital Era
    10:35 Historical Communication and Public Engagement
    16:02 Inspire Learning through Augmented Reality Historical Storytelling
    18:08 Instant Information Access on Learning
    21:19 Contact for creating park experiences or highlights.
    Resources www.parkleaders.com
    Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/
    Creating Experiences for Normal People
    The deep knowledge of park leaders is invaluable. However, when we want to create experiences for the everyday visitor it is important to recognize that simplicity resonates with the general public. We can add to their experience by offering narratives and relatable stories that build their interest in the history. Even better is when it encourages them to further explore the land. 
    Too many park guests feel lost in a sea of too much information at an exhibit. Park leaders have the unique role of balancing their wealth of knowledge with creating intrigue of the great outdoors. As Phil says, "park people are not normal people." and how we can embrace this difference to enrich the experiences of our everyday visitors. "Normal" may be subjective, but the joy of discovering the wonder of parks is universal. A park adventure shouldn't feel like a history exam. It's about creating a connection that turns mere data into memorable stories. This is how parks capture hearts and provoke minds.
    Ever heard of the Horn Works in Charleston? No? Phil Gaines shares about turning a 10x10 foot relic into a journey through time. Imagine seeing a revolution-era fort pop up among modern buildings using augmented reality. That's where technology marches alongside history in the parks, showing us that innovation and tradition can walk hand in hand. It's an opportunity to dive into the past without getting lost! 
    It is inevitable that people will spend time googling historical facts after a park visit. Visiting parks sparks curiosity in the minds of the next generation. For many younger visitors, a monument speaks louder than textbooks. Parks are more than terrain; they're a testament to human history. Next time you visit a park, look beyond the scenery. Search for the story, find the connection, and dive into the curiosity and wonder the experience brings. 
    While park staff may not be your everyday Joe, the experiences they curate should resonate with anyone stepping off the bus, ready for adventure. Make sure to listen to listen to this episode for more on ways park leaders are working on making the next 250 years of park history as engaging as the first. 

    • 23 min
    Volunteer Projects to Enhance Tourism

    Volunteer Projects to Enhance Tourism

    "We have to do more things with younger people to make sure they know what a cool industry we are and that there are so many different job opportunities that aren't just front line."  Key Moments 04:35 Tourism Synergy and Collaboration
    08:37 Empowering Youth to Make a Positive Impact 
    14:50 Revitalizing Urban Parks and Workforce Development.
    19:03 Building Partnerships for Environmental Conservation
    20:26 Historic Site Preservation
    23:50 Community Support in the Tourism Industry
    28:06 Promoting Career Diversity to Youth
    Resources www.parkleaders.com
    Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/
    Volunteer Projects to Enhance Tourism
    The dedication of park professionals is undeniable, espeically when they are all together in one place. At the annual in-service for Michigan State Park, I had the opportunity to meet a number of people doing amazing things, including Patty Janes, a professor and founder of Michigan Cares For Tourism. Her organization brings together tourism experts to revitalize Michigan's historic and cultural park attractions. The more we talk the more clear is becomes that impact of volunteer work on local tourism provides a blueprint for successful community involvement.
    Volunteerism is a tourism booster. Patty has championed this cause through Michigan Cares For Tourism by organizing volunteer events that tackle the maintenance backlog in state parks. These events, such as an adopt-a-forest program, are vital for park conservation. They also enhance the visitor experience by improving facilities and creating a cleaner environment. The impressive result of these efforts is an estimated $1.2 million in labor and supplies saved for the state. She knew the profound economic impact of volunteer-driven tourism projects, and it is most certainly paying off.
    Collaboration is the linchpin of success in these community projects. The synergy between Michigan Cares For Tourism and a diverse set of organizations such as Pure Michigan and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has been a key force. These partnerships facilitate initiatives such as the transportation of volunteers via donated motor coaches and the structuring of professional communication. This approach underlines the potential of joint efforts to get sustainable results. All while creating a more vibrant tourism industry.
    Educating and involving the younger generation in tourism is a must. Patty continuously works with high schoolers and early professionals to bring awareness to career opportunities within the tourism sector. This helps highlight the field's career potential while insprining future stewards of Michigan's natural gems. It also encourages the fresh flow of ideas and innovation, ensuring the longevity of the industry.
    Make sure to listen to this episode for more of Patty Janes’ insights and opportunities.  Whether you’re a business professional with an eye for community impact or simply a lover of parks, this episode is full of ideas on the intersection of volunteerism and tourism. 

    • 29 min
    The Role of a Park Director

    The Role of a Park Director

     "A good new part director has a vision. And and if you want to make a difference and leave your mark, you have to have vision of where you want to take your agency in the next year, in the next 3 years, and in the next 5 years." Key Moments
    06:53 Recognize the need to act as leader.
    11:39 Watch what you say, people are listening.
    13:38 Build on core values, ethics, and vision.
    18:28 New directors often overwhelmed, need readiness training.
    21:35 Stay close to service, vision, motivate.
    25:38 Seek smarter team members for success.
    Resources www.parkleaders.com
    Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/
    The Role of a Park Director
    Successful leaders have a clear vision and understand the impact of communication. in order to drive it forward. Phil Gaines returns for a great conversation on the role of a park director, though anyone in a leadership role can benefit from what we discussed. When someone has a vision, it will only come to fruition if they make decisions with confidence to empower their team while staying close to your point of service
    3 key takeaways from our conversation:
    Vision and Communication: Successful leaders have a vision and can effectively communicate it to their team. This sets the path for the team's success and establishes a sense of urgency. Empowerment: Effective leaders must empower their team members with the knowledge and tools needed for success and be ready to support them as they work toward achieving the shared vision. Accountability and Decision Making: Leaders need to be okay with being held accountable and must be willing to make tough decisions. They should be focused on moving the team forward strategically and not recklessly, with a strong sense of urgency. This episode gives a great perspective on the intricacies of leading a park, while also offering valuable wisdom for leadership roles in various organizational settings. This episode is a must listen, whether you aim to rise to the position of a Park Director, or aspire to grow in your current leadership position. 

    • 28 min
    Leadership is a Choice

    Leadership is a Choice

    “Go sit on a rock in your favorite spot somewhere and do a very serious self-assessment. What am I good at? What am I not good at? What do I like to do? What do I don't like to do? And if you don't want to be out there in the lead, if you don't want to be out there taking some risk, if you don't want to get up in front of audiences, don't put yourself in that position."
    Key Moments
    01:45 Starting a Career in Parks and Recreation
    06:37 Ranger Experience in Yosemite
    10:31 Toxic Work Environments
    13:57 Conservation Efforts in Protected Areas
    14:45 Environmental Protection by National Park Service Personnel
    19:01 Leadership Accountability and Self-Assessment
    25:35 Importance of Reputation in Career Success
    Walt's Presentations on YouTube
    A History of America's Public Lands | Texas Parks and Wildlife Education Channel
    History of US Public Lands Canyonlands Natural History Association
    Conversation on Public Lands with Walt Dabney | Coalition to Protect America's Nation
    Resources www.parkleaders.com
    Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/
     Leadership is a Choice
    As a park leader it is necessary to be willing to take risks and make difficult decisions. One person that is no stranger to that is Walt Dabney, retired director of Texas State Parks. Walt has left a mark on the parks and conservation landscape, making him quite a legend in the industry.
    During our conversation Walt shares stories from his extraordinary career. From his deep-rooted connection to the outdoors in Texas, to his unexpected journey through the National Park Service and his pivotal role in challenging decisions that would impact the future of our public lands. He even took on the military to stand up to mining interests. Walt's unwavering commitment to safeguarding our parks serves as a powerful lesson in resilience, determination, and the true meaning of leadership.
    This episode explores:
    - The bold moves and pivotal decisions that shaped Walt's career
    - The importance of taking a stand and putting yourself at risk for what you believe in
    - Key strategies for effective leadership, including decision-making, self-assessment, and fostering respect and trust
    Being a leader means balancing approachability with managerial authority. Leaders should be ready to embrace bold moves. Throughout Walt’s career, he had to make bold decisions, take on challenging assignments, and stands up for what he believes in. It is also important to recognize when the role you’re in isn’t what you thought you wanted or turns out to not allow you to do the things you are good at. Even if you don't enjoy your current role, be diligent, supportive, and efficient in your work, as this will impact your reputation and future career opportunities.
    This episode is full of valuable lessons from Walt's experiences and leadership philosophy. It is a must listen for park leaders and enthusiasts. There is no doubt you’ll want to hear more, so many sure you keep an eye out for the documentary, "History of America's Public Lands.” This documentary will further expand your knowledge of the history and relevance of public lands in the United States.

    • 28 min
    Finding the Return on Investment in Interpretation

    Finding the Return on Investment in Interpretation

    “People can't fall in love with your park if they're lost."
    Key Moments
    03:49 Law enforcement rangers use interpretation to influence.
    07:05 Expanding park interpretive products for diverse experiences.
    09:56 Framework for visitor experience in parks and its application across different contexts.
    13:53 Problem-solving strategies for adaptation.
    19:08 ROI of interpretive programs for park rangers.
    21:54 The challenges of parks to increase diversity amid visitor influx.
    23:14 Diversity and inclusion in State Parks for better representation.
    Connect with Ky The Visitor Experience website
    Ky Harkey on LinkedIn
    Resources www.parkleaders.com
    Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/
    Finding the Return on Investment in Interpretation
    Interpretation plays a vital role in attracting, entertaining, and educating diverse users. One person with a lot of experience in this area is Ky Harkey, former director of interpretation for Texas State Parks and now founder of The Visitor Experience. His expertise in interpretation and visitor experience helps park leaders improve the relevance and inclusivity of their programs and services. During our conversation Ky shares some of the ways we can enhance the visitor experience, increase diversity in visitorship, and create a more engaging and impactful park environment for everyone.
    Key Takeaways from this conversation:
    Interpretation & Business: The concept of "entrepreneurial park rangers" reflects the need for the park industry to approach management and services as a business. This will help them effectively solve the challenges and drive impact. Stewardship Staircase: The framework of the "staircase of the visitor experience" encompasses the 5 core services along the Staircase to Stewardship. It provides a strategic way to guide visitors towards stewardship and reflects the diversity of the communities the parks serve. Diversity in Visitorship: Interpretation plays a vital role in attracting and engaging diverse users by sharing under-told stories of natural and cultural history, providing relevance, and fostering connections leading to moments of impact. Make sure you listen to the full episode to gain insights into the visitor experience and the influence of interpretation in shaping the future of parks. To learn more about Ky’s work and get access to a self-assessment tool to evaluate your visitor services, visit thevisitorexperience.org. Consider ways you can embrace the transformative power of interpretation and entrepreneurial innovation to grow the experiences that have a positive impact of parks and conservation.

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
44 Ratings

44 Ratings

OAboy ,

My favorite podcast

As a parks and recreation major soon to be entering parks as a career, the Park Leaders Show gives perspectives and information from experienced industry leaders that my university coursework doesn’t touch on. I discovered this podcast earlier this year and had have just finished my last episode. I hope there’s more to come!

MattVillamaino ,

Love the show

As someone who works in parks, I love the show. It is extremely relevant as well as fun to listen to.

JenniferDavisSharp ,

Fantastic Podcast for Non-Rangers, Too

Absolutely love the show. So very inspiring. To hear it at it's peak, listen to the recent episode called Access to the Outdoors is a Civil Rights Issue.

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