From WRPA President Brad Hatch
First of all, thank you for being my colleagues. I truly enjoy seeing everyone at conference, and this year was no exception. We may be the smallest parks and recreation association in the country, but it also makes us the closest. The opportunity to renew friendships, share ideas, and just hang out always renews and motivates me for continued service in parks and recreation. Thank you again to the City of Cody for their excellent conference last year.
Now, on behalf of the board, I would like to review with you some of our progress from the past year, and some new programs for the upcoming year.
This past year we implemented the WPRA Incentive Program (WIP) in an effort to promote participation in our state association. 19 people turned in forms, with all 19 receiving WRPA glasses, and 16 receiving WRPA duffel bags. We plan to continue the program this year, with more incentives to be handed out at our next state conference. We encourage everyone to be involved with this program, as your service not only benefits others, it also benefits you.
As President, I have also set a personal goal to have “Every member belong to a Section.” To do this, we have streamlined the sections to focus on more general purposes. For example, the former Director’s section was changed to the Administration section to include all administrative personnel. The four current sections now include Administration, Aquatics, Parks, and Sports/Programming. Section lunches were held at the last conference in Cody, with great attendance at each section. We plan on continuing these section lunches at our spring workshops and annual conferences.
In addition, I would like to make everyone aware of those who have led and are leading the sections. After getting the Administration section started, JJ Huntley from Pinedale has passed the reins onto Marilee Jackson from Evanston. After serving a very successful two-year term as the Aquatics Section Chair, Chase Judd from Pinedale was replaced by Desiree Vapenik from Cheyenne. Sara Felix from Lander, our former certification committee chair, is our new Parks Section chair, replacing Alison Faure from Rock Springs. Mary Axthelm from Riverton expanded her role as the Pitch, Hit, and Run committee chair to become the Sports/Programming Section chair, with Scott Redman as our Vice-Chair.
I also wanted to thank those who concluded their terms of service as WRPA board members this year, and welcome our new board members. Rick Manchester & Jenni Phillips from Cody and Adam Gibson from Gillette finished their terms at the last conference. Marilee Jackson from Evanston and Katie Blood from Green River were elected to replace them. We also welcomed two new board members at the December board meeting, Mike Fink from Cody and Kason Walton from Laramie. They are replacing JJ Huntley from Pinedale and Jim Wollenburg from Cheyenne, who both resigned their positions after conference.
The committees have also been streamlined with the following members serving as chairs: Blaise Grant from Casper is the new Certification chair; Monty Galbraith from Douglas is the new Legislative chair, Alison Faure from Rock Springs is continuing as the Membership chair, Katie Duncombe from Green River is continuing as the Scholarships, Awards, and Nominations chair, and Emileigh Hillstead from Evanston is the new Website Chair.
For the upcoming year, we are looking forward to our next spring workshop. To expand the hosting opportunities for our smaller communities, we will begin rotating the spring workshop, with this year’s workshop being hosted by Pine Bluffs. They are very excited to have this opportunity, and are planning a great program. Mark your calendars now for April 19. We would also like to announce that Kemmerer has volunteered to host the spring workshop in 2019.
At the last board meeting, the board also approved a new scholarship specifically for assisting members to attend annual conference. This scholarship would focus on those whose agencies may not have the funding to send an employee or part-time employees who may not otherwise be able to attend.
The incentive for this program comes from the Pinedale Aquatic Center, who has already pledged money to provide one scholarship for a member to attend conference. The board is now asking all agencies to consider donating something towards this scholarship fund. Besides general funds, donations could also come from local fund-raisers or local charitable organizations. Please send all donations to the WRPA Treasurer, Kari Kivisto, in Cheyenne by April 1st. We plan to send out applications for these conference scholarships by June 1st.
When planning your next year’s budget, don’t forget about the annual state conference in Sheridan September 24-27, and the Midwest Conference in Laramie in spring of 2019.
We also encourage everyone to continue to contribute articles, pictures, and events to our WRPA website. Let us know about new or renovated facilities, new or retiring staff, or your great programs. And don’t forget, you earn WIP points for submitting articles. Send all information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, continue the amazing service you are providing. No matter how big your agency or budget, never forget that you are always making a difference in your community and in individual lives.