Park Leaders Show

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, guest co-host, Phil Gaines, returns to discuss ways leaders can focus on professional growth during this pandemic era.

While personal growth centers on passion, experience, and knowledge base, as Phil explains, the key to professional growth boils down to legacy. Despite competition being a commercial necessity, to mature professionally, one must consider what making a difference looks like. For some, upward mobility is essential to this reality; for others, simply maximizing an opportunity is enough to advance their goals.

Regardless of setting and surroundings, dare to question how you can leave things better than you found them. By doing this, you will ultimately progress down the road of professional development.

Resources:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_246_-_Focus_on_Professional_Growth.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, guest Scott Durham, former superintendent of West Virginia State Parks, joins the show to discuss the origin of the “Ranger First” mantra.

As Durham explains, with park ranger set as a universal term, the “Ranger First” philosophy was established to clarify authoritative influence and promote voluntary compliance. Since its inception, benefits have emerged specifically through community-oriented policing and accountability among rangers and superintendents.

Essentially, the term “Ranger First” is more than a banner but also an umbrella attitude centered on developing healthy park operations and visitor behavior. Durham hopes this approach will continue to integrate ranger visibility into higher education, ingenuity, and compliance at large.

Resources:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_245_-_The_Story_Behind_the_Ranger_First_Philosophy_Scott_Durham.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Phil Gaines returns to discuss ways park leaders can focus on personal growth during this pandemic era.

While COVID-19 has altered many park programs, on a personal level, the effects have varied among rangers. Even as visitation rates have increased in recent months, so tends to complacency, especially for leaders accustomed to former rhythms.

Yet, as Phil explains, if you’re an influencer hoping to mature in this season, you must refuse to be easily satisfied. Rather than stick to the predictable routines, dare to see where your passions can take you and explore avenues for learning.

For instance, you may want to seek a mentor who can impart part of their knowledge base and experience. You may want to carve out weekly reading time to discover new content and resources. Whatever plans you set, integrate new pursuits into the places you have become most idle. From there, if you find any to be successful, flex them into daily or weekly practice.   

Resources

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

 

Direct download: Ep_244_-_Focus_on_Personal_Growth.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Parks Leaders Show, the Ingles family joins in to discuss their passion for state parks.

As road warriors, the Ingles have a fresh perspective on park trends and patterns. With the recent increase in park visitation, De and John note emerging issues in national parks such as overcrowding and conservation communication and provide solutions on what rangers can do in the short term.

Additionally, to help parks in their preservation efforts, the Ingles hope their passion project, Wild Routed, can inspire visitors to appreciate the maintaining of historic landscapes through their unique merchandising.

For more information, please visit their website.

Resources

Website: https://wildrouted.com/

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Linkedin for De: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmykgirl    

Linkedin for John:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/johningles

Direct download: Ep_243_-_A_Passion_for_Parks_The_Ingles_Family.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, guest co-host, Phil Gaines, returns to discuss ways park leaders can recalibrate their careers amidst the pandemic.

In this Covid-19 era, customer service has suffered across multiple industries such as national and state parks. Despite new efforts to attract tourists, limited staff, restricted hours, and dwindling attendance have combined to hinder performance across multiple locations.

Yet, as Phil explains in this episode, while disruptions increase during desperate times, so should the adaptive innovations. If organizations want to expand their reach, they must consider new approaches to providing value and service.

Accordingly, in the weeks ahead, Phil and I will break down how we can professionally mature in today's hostile working environment. While the roadmaps may vary, forward progress will come as long we know our goals, celebrate victories, and learn from our mistakes. It's just a matter of time.

 

Resources

 

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

 
Direct download: Ep_240_-_Refocus_on_Your_Park_and_Your_Career.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, guest co-host, Phil Gaines, returns to discuss ways park leaders can recalibrate their careers amidst the pandemic.

In this Covid-19 era, customer service has suffered across multiple industries such as national and state parks. Despite new efforts to attract tourists, limited staff, restricted hours, and dwindling attendance have combined to hinder performance across multiple locations.

Yet, as Phil explains in this episode, while disruptions increase during desperate times, so should the adaptive innovations. If organizations want to expand their reach, they must consider new approaches to providing value and service.

Accordingly, in the weeks ahead, Phil and I will break down how we can professionally mature in today's hostile working environment. While the roadmaps may vary, forward progress will come as long we know our goals, celebrate victories, and learn from our mistakes. It's just a matter of time.

 

Resources

 

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

 
Direct download: Ep_240_-_Refocus_on_Your_Park_and_Your_Career.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Matthew Luhn joins the show to discuss using Pixar-style storytelling for interpretation.

As discussed in previous interviews, interpreters are some of the best storytellers on the planet. Especially when integrating science, the opportunity to engage park visitors through interactive engagement has never been greater.

According to Matthew, the value of stories, in part, is their ability to tie a critical message to the story itself. For instance, if you want to encourage an audience to be prepared in a certain way, integrating modern-day technology and animation can be a powerful tool to promote questions and inquiry.

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/


On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, guest co-host, Phil Gaines, returns to discuss the relationship between interpretation and cultural challenges.

In present times, more and more park rangers are having to adapt their language to political correctness. Especially after a year like 2020, to preserve retention, state and national park leaders are reanalyzing how they communicate history to the next generation of visitors.

However, as Phil and I discuss in this episode, interpretation is also affecting the oral history of issues like climate change. The question is: How do park rangers provoke people into deeper thinking without overstepping with a right or left-wing agenda?

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

 

Direct download: Ep_238_-_Adapting_Interpretation_for_Modern_Challenges.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, guest co-host, Phil Gaines, returns to discuss the relationship between interpretation and cultural challenges.

In present times, more and more park rangers are having to adapt their language to political correctness. Especially after a year like 2020, to preserve retention, state and national park leaders are reanalyzing how they communicate history to the next generation of visitors.

However, as Phil and I discuss in this episode, interpretation is also affecting the oral history of issues like climate change. The question is: How do park rangers provoke people into deeper thinking without overstepping with a right or left-wing agenda?

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

 

Direct download: Ep_238_-_Adapting_Interpretation_for_Modern_Challenges.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Kyle Wagner, former Travel Editor for the Denver Post, joins the show to discuss her state and national park endeavors.

A current freelance editor and writer, Kyle explains her heart for exploration and goal to visit every Colorado State Park. With a mission to visit every national park, Kyle hopes her followers can draw inspiration from her favorite landmarks and historic sites.

Kyle also shares her top five Colorado state parks and some of the most embarrassing questions raised by her readers.

Resources:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kylewagnerworld

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

 

Direct download: Ep_237_-_Visiting_Every_Colorado_State_Park_Kyle_Wagner.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, guests, James Ledgerwood, superintendent of Chimney Rock State Park, Mary Yeager Gale, Chairman of the Board for Chimney Rock Management, and Emily Blackwell, Project Manager at Stewart, join the show to discuss access at Chimney Rock State Park.

Known for its renowned elevator access and outcroppings trails, Chimney Rock State Park has seen an evolution of improvement since 2011. While many last decades would struggle to summit its peak, changes to trail quality and access have encouraged new interest and retention alike. Now, whether you are a thrill-seeker, a student, a senior, or disabled, there's a way for you to enjoy some of the best scenic views in North Carolina.

Despite the cost and effort, James, Mary, and Emily are hopeful positive momentum will continue as a new generation of parkgoers discover the spectacles Chimney Rock State Park has to offer. 

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

 

Direct download: Ep_236_-_Creating_Greater_Access_in_Park.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, guest Brad Krey returns to discuss interpretative services and digital access to parks.

As education evolves into a social distance science, the same reality is impacting today’s parks. According to Brad, there’s not only a concern to teach a new generation about natural resources but build influential relationships through technology. In an ideal world, more teachers consider state parks as a platform for natural resource education.

From there, by utilizing blended digital access, a learning technique that builds environmental awareness through distance education, teachers and park rangers alike can engage in meaningful conversation in and outside the classroom.

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

 

Direct download: Ep_235_-_Creating_Digital_Access_to_Parks_Brad_Krey.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, guest co-host, Phil Gaines, returns to discuss park retention with COVID-19 impacts beginning to fade.

After 15 months of social distancing, parks, like most enterprises, are slowly returning to normality. Accordingly, Phil asks two critical questions:

1) How do we get back to normal?

2) How do we educate and engage in what we want them to learn?

As Phil and Jody discuss, state parks should embrace the opportunity to provide more resources, from kiosks to online, where new visitors can engage new information. More initiatives can emerge with less focus on health preservation by focusing on customer service, new activities, and client feedback.

Overall, the time has never been better for state park service models to step up. For state parks, why not accept the call to lead the way?

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_234__-_Welcoming_New_Park_Visitors.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, Alan Spears, Senior Director of Cultural Resources for the National Parks Conservation Association, joins the show to discuss civil discourse in state parks.

In a politically charged era, the struggle to promote diversity is real. Tensions are high, feelings are fragile, and confrontations are ignitable if not handled appropriately. Yet, as Alan explains, state parks can play a part in healing cultural and racial divisions. Not only can parks commemorate national pride through select monuments and landmarks but also serve as refuges for civil discourse where people can engage in culturally sensitive conversations.

As he suggests, if park rangers and interpreters work together to encourage inclusivity, then the strain of social stress will lessen.

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_233_-_Civil_Discourse_in_Parks_Alan_Spears.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, Jackson Lake State Senior Park Director Amy Brandenburg joins the show to discuss becoming dark-sky certified.

Having helped her Morgan County state park achieve dark-sky certified status in September 2020, Amy explains the requirements of obtaining the designation. As she points out, the accreditation process can be exhausting for parks pursuing similar endeavors. For starters, park rangers must not only file an extended application but revise their park’s resources to meet light pollution regulations.

Despite the hard work, Amy is hopeful new tourism trends will continue in 2021 and beyond. As a charge for other state parks, Amy advises rangers to think outside the box to maximize their resources, protect the environment and inspire attendance.

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_232_-_Making_Your_Park_Dark_Sky_Friendly_Amy_Brandenburg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this special episode of the Park Leaders Show, the Logsdon family joins the show to discuss iguanas and working with families as camp hosts.

As a family on the go, the Logsdon live an abnormal life; however, while their mobile, small-home lifestyle has been perceived unorthodox by some, the learning, volunteer, and mentoring opportunities have well made up for it. According to Nathan, more young families should consider camp hosting as a realistic venture. Even in shoulder seasons, camp hosts can reap resume building leads and reach a broader group of people as they learn more about nature and culture in state parks.

Resources:

Website: mamasaysnamaste.com

E-mail: ashley@mamasaysnamaste.com

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_231_-_Working_With_Familes_as_Camp_Hosts_Logsdon_Family.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, biologist, Gina Zwicky, joins the show to discuss her passion for frogs.

Charming, charismatic, and ecologically intriguing, Gina explains how frogs inspired her career as well as her side hustles. Currently serving as a park service volunteer, Gina also discusses why she enjoys taking people on interpretative nature hikes and what people can do to improve their interactions.

For instance, while frogs are suffering due to human activity, by connecting with nature through interpretation and community science programs, people can enhance the quality of frogs as they participate in ecological monitoring.

Resources:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GinaGoesOutside

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ginagoesoutside/

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_230_-_For_the_Love_of_Frogs_Gina_Zwicky.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, guest co-host Phil Gaines, and Milward Simpson, Executor Director for the National Association of Interpretation, returns to discuss interpreters at parks.

While most interpretative services foster outdoor natural hobbies and interests, as Milward and Phil explain, the success of visitation must also reflect in data and revenue. As many parker ranges aspire, forming life-long connections with guests is an intellectual and financial end-goal; however, this shouldn’t deter park leaders from capturing data and viewing revenue generation outside program figures.

Furthermore, to improve interpretative services at the park, rangers should consider virtual programming, training, even podcasts in the implementation of audience expansion. Although technology can never replace experiential learning, the use of interpretation improvisation can help reach the next generation.

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_229_-_Interpreters_are_the_Conscience_of_Parks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Andrea Ketchmark, executive director of the North Country Trail Association, joins the show to discuss chapter-based organizations and the working relationship between agencies and associations.

As the pioneer of a nonprofit organization that coordinates volunteer trail builders and chapters in eight states, Andrea’s role entails project implantation, navigation and safety communications, and grant writing. However, of all her responsibilities, perhaps the greatest challenge involves working with agencies.

Per her experience, while the working relationship between association and agency can be complex, Andrea encourages emerging leaders to start with a shared vision. Before you set off to achieve anything, establish a unifier and take time to have conversations and build trust. By staying consistent with these virtues, an organization can maintain a positive impact in its community.

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

 

Direct download: Ep_228_-_Working_With_Associations_Andrea_Ketchmark.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Phil Gaines, returns to discuss ways park rangers can help outside conservationists.

While rules and procedures are necessary for national park success, as Phil explains, integrating external voices into collaboration and activation is critical. Often, those in uniform want help from those not in uniform but within their terms and parameters. The question is: How can park rangers help non-rangers advocate national resources and wildlife without overyielding?

As Jody and Phil conclude, though the challenge of defining roles can be difficult, it’s well worth the effort in making parks a better place.

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

 

Direct download: Ep_227_-_Conservationists_Who_Dont_Wear_the_Uniform.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, new director of Indiana State Parks, Terry Coleman, joins the show to discuss his story and the importance of long-term resource decisions.

Having served as deputy director of state parks since 2014, Terry has been operating as interim state parks director since August. With skills in long-term resource decision-making, Terry explains how he achieved the position and why strategic planning is critical during short administrations. Per his experiences, stewarding relationships and teamwork not only fuels quality effort but strategic planning.

As a charge to the next generation of park leaders, Terry advises knowing the prize and maintaining focus. If you can do this for yourself and help others do the same, no question, you’ll be effective in what leadership role you pursue.

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_226_-_Making_Long-Term_Resource_Decisions_Terry_Coleman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, guest cohost, Phil Gaines, returns to discuss his philosophy on multi-tasking.

While most assume multi-tasking is a strength, as Jody and Phil explain, there are better ways to be productive. For instance, with park management, the focus for a ranger should not be to execute multiple responsibilities simultaneously but strategically prioritize through empowerment, compartmentalization, and planning.

In this way, rangers can be the best managers they can be, tending smaller circles as the big ones take care of themselves.  

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

 

Direct download: Ep_225_-_The_Truth_About_Multi_Tasking_in_Park_Management.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Milward Simpson, Executor Director for the National Association of Interpretation and former park ranger, joins the show to discuss the power of interpretation.

With a diverse career portfolio, Milward shares how his park ranger experience helped prepare him for his current job at NAI. As he explains, while each role, from the artistic director of a theme park to the administrator of a state historic preservation agency, improved his skills as an administrator in conservation arenas, the key to his success has always been his work ethic and appreciation for cultural heritage.

Fittingly, as a final charge, Milward encourages the emerging generation to take their education seriously and to consider the interpretation field if you have a knack for communications, technology, maintenance, and personnel management.

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_224_-_The_Power_of_Interpretation_Milward_Simpson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, Doug Peacock joins the show to discuss his latest project, Save The Yellowstone Grizzly.

A long-time naturalist, Doug founded STYG in 2016 to advocate safety and recovery of grizzlies south of Canada. As he explains, the removal of grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park should be a national priority following the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s March 2016 delisting announcement. With the agency’s dismissal of climate change and relocation urgency, Doug hopes the nonprofit will score legal victories as they seek to preserve the welfare of grizzly bears in Yellowstone and similar national parks.

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_223_-_Save_the_Yellowstone_Grizzly_Doug_Peacock.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, David Van Cleve, joins the show to discuss locational stability in a park ranger career.

As David shares in his book, ‘A Greatness of Spirit: Tales of Extraordinary Rangers at the Heart of California's State Park System’, few rangers stay the course within one state park; however, for those who do, they carry unique perspectives worth exploring.

For instance, as regional managers and supervisors, rangers who stay in one park throughout their tenure have the opportunity to impact thousands of students within the same community. Through educational influence, these rangers can model high standards of excellence and promote cultural heritage for their park systems.

Resources:

A Greatness of Spirit: https://www.amazon.com/Greatness-Spirit-Extraordinary-Rangers-Californias-ebook/dp/B07HJHP2PQ

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_222_-_Devoting_a_Career_to_One_Park_David_Van_Cleve.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, Phil Francis joins Jody and Phil Gaines to discuss working with support groups.

A retired superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Francis explains how friends groups can help maintain accountability among park rangers and leaders. For instance, through networking, advocacy, and project development, friends groups can call on experienced members to speak for resources and park mission whether it involves testifying before Congress or writing letters to editors.

As Francis elaborates, the goal of friends groups is to resolve local and political issues, manage state and federal projects, and cultivate relationships. If a national park wants to prioritize this endeavor, park managers must not only understand nonprofit requirements but understand the budgets and social value behind their projects.

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

 

Direct download: Ep_221_-_Working_With_Friends_Groups_Phil_Francis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Ben Novak, the lead scientist of the biotechnology nonprofit Revive & Restore, joins the show to discuss his historic breakthrough.

A conservation activist, Ben shares the story of Elizabeth Ann, a black-footed ferret, recently cloned as part of a project with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Revive & Restore, and the San Diego Zoo. With a passion for saving endangered species, Ben plans to reintroduce similar species to their habitats through artificial insemination as a genetic rescue model.

Having spearheading this scientific milestone, Ben hopes the pandemic can be a wake-up call for the next generation to take risks with their goals. Like him in his early career, emerging leaders may encounter negative feedback in their quest for positive change; however, this doesn’t mean they should give up. Instead, Ben charges young people to stay the course as fresh ideas, like the bioethics of cloning and preservation, become more culturally accepted.

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

 

Direct download: Ep_220_-_Saving_the_Blackfooted_Ferret_Ben_Novak.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this episode of the Park Leaders Show, Matt Holloway, a former ranger at Glacier National park, and his 11-year-old daughter, Harper, joins the show to discuss their epic hiking adventure.

After hiking 160 miles of the Pacific Northwest Trail Reroute in 19 days, Matt and Harper share their motivations and takeaways from the experience. While part of their inspiration was to deter hunter activism, the primary objective was to raise conservation awareness for grizzly bears. By hiking the trail, Matt and Harper hope their ground truth observations can help park rangers consider rerouting the trail in a way that will preserve grizzly bear habitation.

 Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

 


Phil Gaines, retired Director of South Carolina State Parks, returns to discuss how COVID-19 is impacting park visitation and user groups.

While the pandemic has reduced the number of new visitors in national parks, there are still some encouraging trends for park rangers. For instance, while bottom-line attendance may be down, certain demographics like women, youth, and seniors are making more frequent trips to parks.

As Phil explains, though more time is needed to monitor these trends, such patterns are worth statistical analysis as new markets often lead to new activities. Additionally, when you consider disruptive innovations and social media, the stage is set for new crazes to emerge. Like mountain biking, geocaching, and Instagram hotspots the past decade, there will be new rages at some point; hence, why rangers should not be discouraged about temporary retention and focus more on the voice of their audience.

Resources:

One of Us: https://www.amazon.com/One-Us-Biologists-Among-Bears/dp/1525548514

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

 

Direct download: Ep_218_-_Discussing_Park_Visitation_and_User_Groups.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Phil Gaines, the semi-regular guest host, returns to discuss annual performance reviews.

While some employers view annual reviews as obligations, the truth is these evaluations are critical to an organization's success. As Phil explains, the best annual performance reviews involve checkmarks throughout the year to maintain consistency. To evaluate performance correctly, supervisors should gauge progress on monthly to quarterly intervals using surveys or 1:1 meetings. Furthermore, annual performance reviews should not only distinguish performance issues versus disciplinary issues but promote open dialogue dedicated to vocational growth.  

However you approach performance evaluation, remember to distribute feedback and encourage learning opportunities regularly. In this way, you will motivate your team members to accomplish their goals with maximum efficiency.

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

 

Direct download: Ep_217_-_Reviewing_Annual_Performance_Reviews.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Barrie Gilbert, a bear biologist and author of ‘One of Us: A Biologist’s Walk Among Bears’, joins the show to discuss his research and resources.   

Having survived a near-fatal attack by a bear in 1977 In Yellowstone Park, Gilbert has devoted his career to wildlife discovery. For over four decades, Gilbert’s scientific inquiries have inspired a new generation to study bear behavior and habitation preservation. Ultimately, his work has changed the narrative concerning the perception of grizzlies in national parks.

As for his book, “One of Us” examines the integrity of hunting as well as the years Gilbert spent in Yosemite studying black bears. To him, if the public concept of bears is to improve, we must replace the Louis and Clark mindset for one seeking to enhance their environment. Only then can we promote safe practices regarding the man and bear relationship.

Resources:

One of Us: https://www.amazon.com/One-Us-Biologists-Among-Bears/dp/1525548514

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_216_-_Grizzly_Bear_Conservation_Barrie_Gilbert.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this episode of the Park Leaders Show, Phil Gaines, retired Director of South Carolina State Parks, returns to discuss how parks can maximize their winter seasons.  

For most parks, tourism is high in the summer, low in the winter. As visitation decreases during the cold months, the opportunities for special projects increase. The question is: How do parks best utilize their downtime to avoid lost time? 

As Phil explains, while winter work projects vary upon location and climate, the bottom lines are the same. If a park ranger wants to prepare for the spring, they must promote rest for staff, document processes, focus on planning, and fix infrastructures critical to volume. 

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_215_-_Use_Winter_to_Prepare_Your_Park_for_Summer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Phil Gaines, retired Director of South Carolina State Parks, returns to discuss strong park culture. 

While some say culture is how you do things, the truth is discovering culture goes much deeper. For instance, when a new park ranger obtains a new role, they instantly inherit a culture. In some cases, the culture may be unhealthy; in others, it may be rich in tradition. 

Whatever the situation, knowing the formal structure and informal influencers is critical to quality management. As Phil explains, though rangers may serve as the primary authority, all staff members can leave an impact on a park and its programs. Accordingly, if rangers commit themselves to know their personnel and the people they influence, the more they’ll discover the ‘why’ of their culture.  

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_214_-_How_to_Discover_the_Culture_at_Your_Park.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Rick Bass, an acclaimed author, and native of Yak Valley discuss challenges affecting national parks and the importance of sharing experiences.

From climate change to conservation conflicts, Rick explains why we should pass stories of environmental struggles to future generations. In his mind, the obligation to preserve history and raise awareness are community values and expressions of courage. If one seeks to inspire influence, one must be willing not only to lend a voice but share the whole story.

As Rick continues, one of the ways he has done this is through his book, Traveling Feast. In the book, Rick focuses his premise on connecting generations through benevolence – the idea of sharing what you love at the core of generosity. The more life seems to converge, the more opportunities we have to expound upon the hope that we know.

Resources:

The Traveling Feast by Rick Bass 

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_213_-_Passing_Stories_to_the_Next_Generation_Rick_Bass.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Phil Gaines, retired Director of South Carolina State Parks, returns to discuss what it means to be a well-rounded ranger. 

As Phil explains, the expectations for rangers have evolved considerably in recent decades. During the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, the idea was a ranger should know how to build homes and service plumbing and electrical units; however, nowadays, rangers carry more generalist roles.

For instance, while rangers can act as technicians, it would be better for them to hire contractors and specialists to ensure every facet of park management operates effectively. In this way, rangers can focus on their strengths while focusing more on their strengths and delegating opportunities. 

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_212_-_Should_You_Be_a_Well_Rounded_Ranger.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this episode of the Park Leaders Show, Phil Gaines, retired Director of South Carolina State Parks, returns to discuss the funnier side of visitor reviews.

While some low-star reviews are unwarranted, as Jody and Phil explain, they can also provide a unique perspective. Sometimes, a new visitor question or a trite online review can reflect ignorance, even humor; however, the key is considering the context. 

For instance, when a tourist says an outrageous comment, rather than write it off, appraise their viewpoint, take it for what it is, and focus on offering a quality experience. In this way, you can accurately process the feedback regardless of presentation. 

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_211_-_Discussing_Funny_Park_Visitor_Reviews.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Today on the ‘Park Leaders Show’, Phil Gaines, retired Director of South Carolina State Parks, returns to discuss the value of interpretive services.

As Phil notes, many parks are applying budget cuts to interpretive services and discontinuing in-person programming due to COVID-19; however, while the physical returns have dwindled, the online returns have been surprisingly high.

While interactive platforming is a helpful tool, as Phil explains, if a park wants to maintain its interpretive services, it must justify them through analytics validating their impact and champion them through product development and resource management. In any situation, for interpretive services to have legislative support, a park must be able to demonstrate communal impact and how that impact can yield financial returns to sustain future programs.

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_210_-_Do_Interpretive_Services_Provide_a_Return.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On today’s episode of the ‘Park Leaders Show’, Cam Sholly, Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, joins the show to discuss prioritizing park responsibilities.

Of these umbrella priorities, Cam explains five in particular: workforce development, strengthening ecosystems and cultural resources, resource accessibility and park experience, investing in infrastructures, and building coalitions and partnerships.

In all endeavors, Cam emphasizes the importance of adaptability, positivity, and teamwork not only in managing priorities but people along the way.

Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

 

Direct download: Ep_209_-_Understanding_Park_Priorities_Cam_Sholly.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Today Reggie Williams, ex-NFL linebacker, former Disney executive, and social reformer, returns to discuss how inclusion should look in state parks.

When we talk about popular tourist attractions, we often think inclusion is exclusive to participants after they’ve engaged. Popular among park leaders is the idea once the gates open, their staff should be ready to serve those who enter.

While this notion is partially true, as Reggie and I explain, inclusive is a two-way exchange that starts with pre-entry outreach and equality. In order to include, parks must not only integrate tourist suggestions into their marketing but express a commitment to serve ahead of confirmed interest.

As Reggie concludes, a park best serves its customers by prioritizing their voice. If a park team actively seeks to hear what potential customers are saying, no question they will leave a greater impact in their community.

Resources:

Resilient by Nature: Reflections from a Life of Winning On and Off the Football Field by Reggie Williams

 Connect:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_208_-_Making_Parks_More_Inclusive_Reggie_Williams.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Today, on the ‘Park Leaders Show’, Phil Gaines returns to discuss new takes on the park visitor experience.

 

Per recent travels, Phil unpacks some lessons learned having toured local parks as a visitor. One principle he stresses is good leaders view the park experience through the eyes of the visitor. To facilitate a positive environment, a park ranger would best serve tourists working through their lens as opposed to a checklist. Likewise, the ranger would allow staff to contribute feedback on how systems can improve.

 

Additionally, Phil suggests a litmus test in the sense every park ranger should invite their families and friends to visit their parks. The goal, he says, is to mature perspective before revising processes and programs. If park rangers can learn through their loved ones, the takeaways are more likely to be applied to the customer’s advantage.

 

Connect with Jody:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Direct download: Ep_207_-_Experience_Your_Park_as_a_Visitor.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Phil Gains is back with me and today’s episode is the first in a series on interviewing to be a park ranger. This topic was suggested five years ago by Cassidy, a new ranger, and it is a loaded topic. We are unpacking Cassidy’s experience, as well as sharing our own experience as leaders in the Parks system.

We explore seven topics today; information that will be valuable no matter where you are on your journey as a park’s employee. We dig into the importance of being adaptable, having a degree or a military background, and how every day is an interview, to name a few.

Every day is an opportunity to be preparing yourself for the future. How you dress, conduct yourself and invest in learning and understanding a potential position will make a difference and set you apart from others who think a 45-minute interview is the lynchpin of their future.

Connect with Jody:

www.parkleaders.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/theparkleaders/

Questions for future episodes? Email: jody@parkleaders.com

Twitter

Direct download: Ep_206_-_Interviewing_to_be_a_Park_Ranger_Part_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Today guest favorite, Phil Gaines, returns to discuss the park ranger’s role in customer service.

When a tourist visits a national park, seeing a park ranger can be the equivalent of finding Mickey Mouse at Disney World. Especially for newcomers, there’s often a sense of awe built into the experience whenever a park ranger shows up.

As such, Phil encourages park leaders not only to be mindful of their daily priorities but to see themselves as part of the story visitors share. After all, for the customer, their stay is their time to soak in the best sights and sounds nature has to offer. Why not ensure they receive the best service as part of the attraction they came to see?

Direct download: Ep_205_-_A_Park_Rangers_Role_in_Customer_Service.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Direct download: Ep_204_-_Great_America_Outdoors_Act.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Dan Bortner, the recently promoted Director of Indiana Department of Natural Resources, joins me today.

 

With 15 years as a State Parks Director, Dan has transitioned into overseeing not only all of Indiana’s State Parks but the regulatory aspects beyond land holdings as well. At every level of leadership within parks, being surrounded by the best talent you can afford can make or break the culture. Forming the right team, regardless of “qualifications,” will build a sustainable infrastructure.

 

In the current environment, as the rest of the world closed down, people rediscovered the joy of outdoor spaces, and all they have to offer. The impact that state parks have on mental health and the economy has come to the forefront. As Park Leaders, understanding the role that State Parks play in the big picture is paramount. Having a desire and intentionally working toward leaving a legacy is what long-term conservation is all about. Leaving our parks better than we found them is essential to us as leaders. Walking the line of preservation and innovation is a fine line to walk.

 

Episode Resources

The Business Side of Parks - https://parkleaders.com/the-business-side-of-parks/

Submit questions and topics to jody@parkleaders.com

Direct download: Ep_203_-_Rediscovering_Parks_During_Tough_Times.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Phil Gains, my semi-regular co-host, is with me once again; and today, we are tackling a listener’s question.

 

Special thanks to Sean Bonage for submitting this episode’s question. Sean asks, “What do you think are some of the most critical topics that you think need addressing that could help inspire a graduate student in their effort to better public land experiences for park visitors?”

 

As we answer Sean’s question, we consider the importance of not relying on the traditional use of public lands. How do we stay relevant when everything around us is changing? Taking the current climate into consideration, more than ever, we need to be listening to our stakeholders, our citizens, and expanding our understanding of our visitors. We also explore advocacy and access to parks and the necessity of educating many first-time visitors in the arena of conservation and personal responsibility.

 

Diversity of recreation and overall inclusion is challenging us as park leaders to redefine how parks are used and how we approach all groups. Intentionally expanding our pool of viewpoints is imperative; and this trickles into how we care for our workers and their overall health. Lastly, we are unpacking the pros and cons of pulling back the veil on decision making during tough times and how to grow customers into advocates.

Episode Resources

Submit questions and topics to jody@parkleaders.com

Direct download: Ep_202_-_Creating_Better_Visitor_Experiences.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Today, Mark Caughlin, district manager for Horsetooth Reservoir and park ranger for the Larimer Country Resources department, joins us to discuss his career pathway.

Working within the Colorado county system, Mark explains how his jobs have been impacted by the Fort Collins population boom as well as the coronavirus.  He also talks about his responsibilities with Park Law Enforcement Association and how he hopes to inspire more park ranger training programs around the country.

Mark also talks about resource protection and mentorship as cornerstones to excellence in the park ranger industry.

Direct download: Ep_201_-_A_Look_at_the_Park_Law_Enforcement_Association_Mark_Caughlan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this special episode of the Park Leaders Show, Phil Gaines returns to discuss how the podcast has evolved the past six years.

After debuting in April 2014, the Park Leaders Show continues to pursue its niche in educating park rangers on the value of leadership. As Jody explains, there have been many lessons learned during the podcast’s run, but the reward has been well worth the investment. 

To conclude the show, Jody and Phil revisit their most frequently asked question, “What advice do you have for an up and coming park ranger who wants to leave an impact?”

Direct download: Ep_200_-_How_to_Have_an_Impact.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this episode of the Park Leaders Show, Phil Gaines joins me again as my semi-regular guest host. Today, we are diving deep on employee motivation and how we, as leaders, can help to sustain it, even in trying times.

The current landscape of our nation can feel like it is one thing after another. In these times, it is necessary to keep a pulse on our team and provide motivation. In seasons as we find ourselves in, even the most motivated employees can be struggling.

Often we view money as the key motivator, but on its own, it can fall short. Motivation, by definition, is temporary; culture is what carries through. As leaders, we must encourage our team with the resources we have available to us. This is how we build a sustainable culture.

By fostering a culture of engagement and empowerment, we help our employees understand they are part of something bigger than themselves. Communicating where we are and where we are going fosters self-motivation within our team.

You don’t have to have all the answers. By providing vision will help you sustain and keep motivated employees.

Direct download: Ep_199_-_Motivation_is_Temporary.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On today’s episode of the Park Leaders Show, we have an old friend joining us. John Griffith has guested on six episodes over the past six years and has been integral in the growth of the show. John is a huge voice in the conservation movement and has worked to educate the masses for many years with a 19-year stint in the California Conservation Core and as the host of Wild Jobs on Animal Planet.

John has now transitioned to a place of passion as a Nature Guide or Interpreter for the North Coast District of California State Parks. While tenure may have him as the “new guy”, his background in social media and creating relevant education have helped him build a thriving educational program even during the current pandemic we are experiencing.

Today we discuss the importance of empowering guests and visitors to recreate the awe they experience in a natural setting and translate it to the nature around them in their daily lives. The importance of sowing seeds of inspiration in the short touchpoints nature guides have is key to taking their visit from terminal to transformative. By associating learning about nature with fun and utilizing entertaining methods, a passion for conservation can be cultivated one visitor at a time.

 

Episode resources:

Book Recommendation: Bringing Nature Home – by Douglas W. Tallamy

https://www.amazon.com/Bringing-Nature-Home-Wildlife-Expanded-ebook/dp/B003UV8ZTE/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Bringing+Nature+Home&qid=1589334645&sr=8-1&tag=stephprodu-20

Humbolt Redwood State Park Page –https://www.facebook.com/HumboldtRedwoodsStatePark/

Facebook Page: @Griffwilds - https://www.facebook.com/GriffWild/

Facebook Group: @Griffswildtips  https://www.facebook.com/groups/GriffsWildTips/

Instagram: @thenaturenut  https://www.instagram.com/thenaturenut/

YouTube: John Griffith https://www.youtube.com/user/TotemMagicGoingMAD

Direct download: Ep_198_-_Developing_an_Interpretive_Talk.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Marnin Robbins, Interpretive Program Manager for the North Coast Redwoods District and California State Parks, discusses his story and the value of interpretation.

As Marnin describes, interpretation is a mixture of information exchange and inspiration exchange - a role that helps provide context and meaning for people who visit natural landmarks. While the job covers much ground, exploring interpretation in parks is rooted in interactive conversation and bringing nature to life virtually. Understandably, this aspect was limited in decades past; however, today, using modern technology, park rangers can now protect national parks and help people understand their significance through online interpretive programs.

Direct download: Ep_197_-_Exploring_Online_Interpretation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:36pm PST

Our semi-regular guest host, Phil Gains, is back with us to discuss a somewhat controversial topic in park leadership: park rangers & law enforcement.

 

There are many differing opinions and policies about the role of law enforcement in parks. Expectations and execution vary from state to state. People feel strongly about how and why law enforcement should be in place. When you boil it down, law enforcement plays an important part in the parks landscape: to protect our visitors and the resources we have been entrusted to steward.

 

Regardless of your stance, as leaders, it is our responsibility to provide the necessary training and equipment to our team, whatever that may look like at your park. While philosophies range from 'Ranger First' to 'Law Enforcement First (or someone will get hurt)', the goal remains the same; being prepared and utilizing the tools available to us to serve our visitors and provide a safe environment for enjoying our parks.

Direct download: Ep_196_-_The_Role_of_Law_Enforcement_in_Parks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In today’s episode of the Park Leader’s Show, Phil Gains is with us again and is introducing us to Donald Forgione, a longtime friend and former Director of Florida State Parks.

As a leader, we must encounter a crisis with confidence and humility. Leaders do not need to have all the answers, but they must be prepared to be a calming and reassuring presence. Especially in today’s unprecedented situation, being proactive and working on a plan for the next season is key to supporting our teams.

While some tasks and operations need to take place, there is still one other critical piece that needs constant attention – our people. The tasks will get done because we have a strong team, and as leaders, we must prioritize caring for our people.

Direct download: Ep_195_-_Leading_During_a_Crisis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm PST

Phil Gaines returns to discuss how COVID-19 is affecting state parks and what to expect when they reopen.

As Gaines explains, it’s possible to stay relevant in global crises like the coronavirus. Despite the social limitations, park leaders can still make decisions that are timeless and timely. The key is knowing what direction to go, when to go there, and how to incorporate outside input into the mix.

Direct download: Ep_194_-_How_Will_the_Corona_Virus_Change_Parks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:03am PST

Our semi-regular guest host, Phil Gains, retired Director of South Carolina State Parks joins us.

We are in a historical and unprecedented time. With most state parks closed for an extended period, we will begin to see leaders emerge or be exposed. As leaders, you don’t need to have all of the answers. You need to know how to deal and communicate in a way that communicates the values found in park culture. Consistency, integrity, empathy, and the prioritization of health and safety are key when you find yourself in a crisis without precedent.

 

Parks is a people business and now, more than ever, leaders must position themselves to care for people. Reach out, document the experience and find time to care for yourself so are able to care of others.

Direct download: Ep_193_-_You_Dont_Need_all_the_Answers_to_be_a_Leader.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Phil Gaines returns on-site at Lake Tahoe to discuss how to stay relevant in an ever-changing world.

Speaking from a local perspective, Phil talks about the importance of taking care of watersheds, providing outdoor recreation, and understanding location. For instance, while water supply is abundant in the southeast, in California the mindset is different since limitation is more a cultural norm.

As for staying relevant, while technology and networking are important, knowing the needs of your surroundings is also key. Especially in times of crisis and uncertainty, understanding capacity is vital to land and water resource protection. In short, while staying relevant involves adapting and evolving, it’s ultimately incomplete if the mindset isn’t filtered through current issues and settings.

Direct download: 192_Staying_Relevant_in_a_Changing_World.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Donald Forgione, Director of Florida State Parks, discusses his background and what it means to be “Ranger First”.

After starting his career as a Park Ranger with Florida State Parks, Forgione transitioned to Director, a role he admits he didn’t expect to land. During this time, he developed a special tagline, “Ranger First”, to remind himself and others how the responsibilities of a park ranger go beyond title.

As Forgione explains, behaviors and values speak louder than words in the park business. Though responsibilities change over time, the humility and pride of being a ranger should never waver.

Direct download: 191_Exploring_Ranger_First.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this special episode of the Park Leader Show, Dan Cockerell, and former VP of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, and Lee Cockerell, retired Executive Vice President of Walt Disney World,  talk about how to handle a crisis.

Here are four steps to keep in mind while dealing with a crisis:

Safety First. Before anything else, the safety of employees, customers, and yourself comes before anything else.

Deal with the Facts. During a crisis people get emotional. People speculate and gossip. You should deal only with the facts when you communicate with people.

Be Empathetic. Everybody is dealing with a crisis in different ways for different reasons. Understand people are worried.

Use the situation to get better. You and your organization can learn plenty from a crisis. Use it as a training opportunity.

During a crisis, your culture is on show for everyone to see. Your actions should match your words. What you say doesn’t build a culture. Culture is built through actions.

Direct download: Ep_190_-_How_to_Handle_a_Crisis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm PST

Jim Bryson, Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Conservation of Tennessee State Parks, discusses the benefit of leaning on your team and the importance of innovation in how you handle communication across your organization.

 

Joining Tennessee State Parks from a corporate background in marketing research, Jim has discovered how central building a culture of trust within your organization is. As a leader, you set the pillars and vision, and you lean on your staff to fill in the how to your why. Being confident in your leadership allows you to pull from the experience of those around you.

 

Jim also shares his experience in starting the first internal podcast dedicated to communication and recognition within the Tennessee State Park staff. As leaders, communicating across a widespread team can be challenging, but it is imperative for building a strong organization. By taping into the deeply held passion for the mission and sharing wins and initiatives, you can meet three key needs: provide information, entertainment, and recognition.

Direct download: 189_Innovating_Communication_in_Your_Organization.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Today’s social media-driven culture is saturated with negativity, politics and sales pitches. From Glacier National Park, Jeff Noel and Jody Maberry discuss the impact of Jody’s “Minute in Nature” moments on Instagram Stories.

 

Pausing to capture a minute of beauty in nature is a way of taking a moment and quieting ourselves. As Jody shares today, being intentional to put some positivity into the world is good for the soul and can help expose more people to the beauty that is found in the great outdoors, especially national parks.

 

Join the #minuteinnature movement and share your own minute in nature with the world.

Direct download: 188_Minute_in_Nature_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Phil Gaines returns to discuss family issues within park leadership.

For many park leaders with families, the relocations associated with the job can be taxing. In some cases, the move can be beneficial for the ranger, but not necessarily the family. According to Gaines, since ranger families are often the face of the family park experience, it’s important to know how to establish harmony and positive representation.

For instance, with succession planning and employee retention, parker leaders should factor their family into these endeavors to boost morale and accountability. After all, in a changing social climate where spouses are breadwinners and school transitions are complicated, bridging family strategy into employee strategy can reap beneficial dividends.

Direct download: 187_Park_Leader_Families.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Dan Bortner, Director of Indiana State Parks, discusses the “business” side of parks and the importance of fostering a healthy paradigm within your team.

In the parks business, you must understand that your business is memory-making. Your product is a consistent experience across some of the most unique locations your state has to offer. Whether empowering the leaders under you or working with them to create a brand, building trust goes a long in setting the destination.

Dan also discussed the value of surrounding yourself with integrity - honest people who may or may not be better than you. As leaders, it’s essential we not only empower our team to solve problems and make decisions but provide the method, the manpower and the materials needed to get the job done. In all things, it’s important to understand you are here for a brief amount of time and your goal must be to do the best you can while you are here.

Direct download: 186_The_Business_Side_of_Parks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Grady Spann, Director of Arkansas State Parks, discusses the importance of trust in all aspects of park management and leadership.

 

After growing up in Brazil, receiving his degree, and serving in the army, Grady started his state park tenure as a Superintendent of an archeological park in Arkansas. Serving as the superintendent of multiple parks, the lessons he’s learned have served him well in his current role as Director of Arkansas State Parks. The importance of trust has proven a recurring theme, whether facilitating stadium events or hosting the State Parks Directors conference.

 

Regardless of the position, stewarding the trust of your customer, be it a camper, sports fan or visiting State Park Director, is paramount with serving in a parks program. Park leadership is not just about making changes – it’s about being a public servant. Embracing the Ranger First initiative recognizes that rangers deal with many things: hospitality, customer experience, and critical incidents. In each case, they have a different mental approach. Above all, trust in the context of park management and leadership is about honoring the trust you have.

Direct download: 185_The_Importance_of_Trust_in_Park_Management.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Ryan Jenkins, Park Manager at Henry Horton State Park, discusses his upbringing, his love for nature, and current projects.

Raised in a National Forest Service family, Ryan pursued music and business in college before rediscovering his love for parks in his late 20’s. Since then, he has been active in promoting health initiatives involving park activities.

One activity in particular, Healthy Parks Healthy Person, has been largely successful. Launched in 2015, the Healthy Parks Healthy Person is a stamp card program allowing app users to earn rewards based on their park activity. These points can then be redeemed as discounts and other benefits from participating businesses.

The big-picture goal, as Ryan explains, “We just want to get people outside for their health. We want to create behavior change with this application. In order to do that, we utilize the gamification and technology…to try to get people into our parks.”

Direct download: 184_The_Medication_of_the_Outdoors.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Sean Woods, Superintendent of California State Parks, discusses his background and current position on this episode.

Having taken a non-traditional path to his current role, Sean has spent almost 15 years bringing the State Park Mission to underprivileged, urban communities in Los Angeles. Through this initiative, he has supervised planning and development efforts at Rio de Los Angeles State Parks, Los Angeles State Historic Park, and the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. In addition to these endeavors, Sean has pioneered planning efforts with Los Angeles River Parks to revitalize the use of local wetlands.

In all projects, Sean’s ultimate goal is to work with people as well as for them in establishing a culture of inclusion.

Direct download: 183_Building_Parks_with_People.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

While visitors come to parks to use facilities, fans come to connect with the people behind them. As Jody explains, not only do fans attend parks more frequently, but see the park experience as an extension of community. Often times, people will limit their appearances based on a specific event, but for the devoted fan, parks represent an opportunity to network both online and offline.

As such, fans are more likely to offer meaningful contributions financially, socially, even environmentally as opposed to visitors.

Direct download: 182_The_Difference_Between_Visitors_and_Fans.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Adam Turner, Area Manager for the Anti-Poaching Unit in Sweden, discusses efforts in wildlife protection and local law enforcement partnership.

Among his responsibilities, Turner highlights the rise of wolf poaching, propaganda, and his work to quench both. Although cities have been relatively unscathed, the fear of wolf attacks and poaching harassment has increased in rural communities. As Turner points out, while one could assume field surveys as the solution, the best way to deter poaching crimes is to team with governing authorities on increasing public awareness.

Direct download: 181_Wildlife_Protection_and_Wolf_Poaching.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Jon Jarvis, Executive Director of the Institute for Parks, People and Biodiversity at the University of California Berkeley, returns to discuss park projects in China.

After leading a summer team to evaluate China’s national park system, Jarvis notes several positive developments. From President Xi’s “beautiful China” emphasis to local conservation efforts, the mission is clear: Do in ten years what America did in a hundred. 

With high drive to establish a new park system, Jarvis believes China will implement a well-rounded national park program with adequate funding and government support. The question is can they deliver on their own time table goal?

Direct download: 180_Creating_A_National_Parks_System_in_China.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this episode, Jody Maberry discusses the next wave of park rangers.

While past and present rangers contrast in several areas, future rangers may not be as different as we think. The next generation of park leaders will be more inclined to know the purpose of what they do; however, they are similar to current leaders in wanting their voice to be heard. Jody expects future rangers to improve outreach efforts and charges current rangers to encourage interest and the difference between role and purpose in their work.

Direct download: 179_The_Next_Generation_of_Park_Rangers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this episode, we’re talking about the 3 P’s that define park leadership and service: people, places, and the past.

The first ‘P’, people, captures the fundamental core of why park rangers exist. Without people, the purpose of park leadership cannot exist.

The second ‘P’, places, represents communities from a physical and relational perspective. While most parks have fixed boundaries, since people and place can’t be separated, rangers can better serve viewing location through a social lens.

The final ‘P’, the past, conveys personal significance as to why people return to parks. For many, the past is the reason to return to parks; however, for rangers, the past can also be a powerful management and motivational tool. As Gaines explains, not only is the past an emblem of legacy, but a foundation where others can do what they’re passionate about.

Direct download: 178_The_Purpose_of_Park_Rangers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Phil Gaines returns to discuss what it means to be "ranger first".

During the past 25 years, the role of a park ranger has changed dramatically. While much of this has centered on energy conservation and public education, one of the most significant swings in function has involved law enforcement. According to Gaines, the expectations of park rangers have evolved in part by increased connection to enforcement officials. Unfortunately, this has resulted in overstepped boundaries in certain situations.

As Gaines goes on to explain, whether partnering with law enforcement or cleaning a bathroom, thinking 'ranger first' can simplify tough situations by keeping public service at the core of the action.

Direct download: 177_The_Idea_of_Ranger_First.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Phil Gaines returns to recap the 2019 National Association of State Park Directors Conference.

Having attended with Jody, Phil takes inventory of several topics ranging from networking and frontline employees to law enforcement and debate etiquette. As he goes on to explain, there are many ways to absorb insight in large scale gatherings; however, by pursuing relationships and knowledge together, one can better link current trends to future progress.


Phil Gaines returns to discuss the challenge of national parks staying relevant.

While there are many ways for parks to remain meaningful, according to Gaines, embracing technology to make connections with the next generation is paramount. If parks want to stay relevant, they must convince young people to not only care about their resources, but invest leisure time. To do this, parks must employ quality customer service and technological innovation to create memorable recreation moments.

Even if new technology proves disruptive, if parks can customize its involvement through their services, the stage will be set for visitors to see the return value.

Direct download: 175_Are_National_Parks_Staying_Relevant_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this episode of the Park Leaders Show, Phil Gaines returns to discuss some of the environmental challenges national parks are facing.

While climate change is a significant factor, for most park rangers and directors, the greatest impacts occur at the local level. For instance, there’s not much a park ranger can do to affect the weather apart from conservation efforts; however, a park ranger can take measures to monitor beach replenishment, safety of endangered species, and visitor use patterns.

According to Gaines, while local level matters can be complex, by leading through the small things, park officials can better expand their influence. After all, leadership isn’t so much about the big things; it’s about recognizing the little things over time that become the big things.

Direct download: 174_Environmental_Challenges_in_National_Parks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Phil Gaines returns to break down the role of a leader.

While the challenges of leadership are many, arguably none are more taxing than motivation. From offering direction to removing obstacles, when leading by example, a leader must often be the example before he can model it; however, this pursuit can’t drive results by itself. If a leader wants to tie guidance to goals, then he must value and facilitate team community.

As Gaines explains, the key to team community, as well as leadership at large, is servanthood. To be a quality leader, one must not only apply humility into upward mobility, but also prioritize team effort over individual performance. By targeting these strengths, a leader can be empowered to make difficult decisions and persevere under pressure.

Direct download: 173_The_Primary_Role_of_A_Leader.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Phil Gaines returns to the show to talk about the role of influence in leadership.

 

As leaders, it's important to be mindful of voice and presence. In a day and age when what you say is magnified through technology and social media, knowing the impacts of reputation is key. For instance, if people naturally flock to you for vision and direction, chances are you're building a healthy reputation among those you serve. Contrarily, if what you say lacks consistency and/or morale, your voice will suffer and hinder your influence.

Direct download: 172_The_Role_of_Influence_in_Leadership.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this edition of the Park Leaders Show, Topher Downham. Outreach Coordinator at City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, discusses his background and work with parks.

After a college swimming pool accident left him paralyzed, Downham notes how navigating trails in a wheelchair inspired him to pursue a career in parks. Forced to learn trails as a quadriplegic, Downham now uses his outdoor expertise to lead hand cycle ride nature hikes for people with disabilities.

With decades of experience consulting parks to better their disability accessibility, Downham recently channeled his knowledge into a trail guidebook, The Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks Accessible Trails and Sites. The guide, specifically aimed for the disabled, takes the reader on a tour through 30 trails in Boulder with pointers for handling hard spots and accommodations. The handbook also includes special features ranging from how to find the best shady spots to helping those with memory loss re-engage with nature.

Direct download: 171_On_the_Trail_We_Blaze.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Phil Gaines returns to discuss how leaders can stay connected to their frontline customers and employees.

When it comes to a successful enterprise, no question, this can’t happen without frontline employees. By dealing directly with customers, frontline workers not only have high drive and insight but represent a company’s values through their service. However, before a leader can develop a frontline staff, he must first be willing to model these values to frontline customers.

As Gaines notes, for park directors, this means being intentional with respect to availability, managing volume, and empowering people. For instance, if a ranger wants to inspire his customers on a park visit, the best thing to do is view the experience through their perspective and gauge feedback directly. Once this type of connection is established, the ranger can then analyze the feedback as a manager and apply the appropriate changes if necessary.  Ultimately, if a leader wants to be more effective, it starts with knowing, interacting, and empowering your frontline customers. 

Direct download: 170_Pioneering_the_Frontlines.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this edition of the Park Leaders Show, Phil Gaines returns to discuss the importance of staying relevant on the job.

For many employers, relevant can seem like a relative term. What’s relevant for one job description isn’t necessarily relevant for another; however, when we consider the value in staying relevant, we find the attitude involved is necessary to relating to broader audiences, employees, and clients. 

According to Gaines, staying relevant means we engage cultural changes and trends into our learning pursuits. With many functions shared among multiple generations, it’s essential today’s managers and leaders distinguish timeless versus temporary within their references. By using current tools to analyze and communicate information, supervisors will ultimately be able to better relate to their workforce.

Direct download: 169_Staying_Relevant_on_the_Job.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this edition of the Park Leaders Show, JP Boneyard, Creative Director of The Fifty-Nine Parks Print Series and producer of the National Poster Retrospecticus, discusses how he got into curating, hosting events, and what the screen printing process is like.

Stirred by national history and preservation, Boneyard started the Fifty-Nine Parks Print Series, in part, to tour his collection of over 400 hand-printed posters across the globe. A master of handcrafted posters, Boneyard’s aim is to draw attention to the beauty of national parks and hopes future generations will continue to find new ways to capture scenic glory.

Direct download: 168_59_Shades_of_Color__A_Celebration_of_Parks_in_Print.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this edition of the Park Leaders Show, Jon Jarvis, Executive Director of the Institute for Parks, People and Biodiversity at the University of California Berkeley, returns to discuss his new book on conservation as well as recent tour tales.

As Jarvis notes, in an era marked by diversity and technology, the need to capture unity in conservation is significant. With emerging generations active on sociopolitical issues, it’s important the scientists of today pour into the people of tomorrow. Motivated by this, Jarvis talks about what it means to engage conservation at the local level and how to communicate environmental strategies to those passionate about societal justice.  

Direct download: 167_Saving_Waste__A_Conversation_on_Conservation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this edition of the Park Leaders Show, Phil Gaines returns to discuss the dichotomy between leadership and management.

When understanding the difference between leadership and management, it’s important to note how they compliment. While managers emphasize job completion and managing tasks, leaders prioritize influence, inspiring and enabling others to contribute. More specifically, managers give oversight and leaders share insight. Despite the contrast in means, the bottom line always comes down to motivation. The question is: How do we define these means in a way that moves projects and people towards outcomes and goals?

As Gaines explains, there are several ways to answer this. Whether it involves leadership and/or management tactic, the key always comes down to empowering people to empower a process.

Direct download: 166_The_Leader_Manager_Dichotomy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this special edition of the Park Leaders Show, Brennan McAuley and retired Director of the National Park Service, Jonathan Jarvis, discuss the value of relationships in leadership and mentorship roles.

When leading through mentorship, it’s essential to view counsel as a two-way street. Even in new hire situations, knowing where and when to receive advice and where and when to give advice is critical to professional development. For instance, when is the best time to criticize a subordinate? When is the best time to take on an outside project during an exceptional circumstance? What qualifies as an exceptional circumstance? Often, it takes building quality relationships to not only mature the intelligence around our skill, but serve in light of our limitations and potential.

No matter what we do as leaders from self-learning to conflict management, the key is seeing effectiveness as groundwork laid for future generations. Put another way, the drive and passion we employ today sets the tone for tomorrow.

Direct download: 165_The_Value_of_Mentorship.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

Phil Gaines returns to the Park Leaders Show to discuss how to persevere during uncomfortable working conditions.

For most of us, troubleshooting workplace drama is nothing new.  Whether it involves a supervisor or an ethical dilemma, no question there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to managing conflicts. Still, while approaches will vary by case, as long as we aim to survive the issue, we can ultimately fix the issue.

As Phil explains, the first step in correcting a problem is to understand the problem. By knowing why a particular conflict is occurring, we can better be the change we crave, standing firm in the face of adversity. In some cases, this requires channeling empathy; in others, this means seeking a mentor and inquiring what has worked before in similar situations.

Whatever approach we employ, it’s imperative we stay consistent in our humility. Even if it means we fall on our sword, as long as we respond out of conviction, we’ll improve the predicament.

Direct download: 164_How_to_Persevere_During_Uncomfortable_Conditions.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this episode, Brennan McAuley returns to the Park Leaders Show to discuss his national park career and experiences as a NPS trainee.

Having recently graduated from the law enforcement academy, McAuley also shares insights on how his experiences as a Temple University student and Pro Ranger Program member readied him for his new potential role at Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.

 

Direct download: 163_Getting_Your_First_Job_with_The_National_Park_Service.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this episode, Phil Gaines shares ideas on how leaders can improve the ethics of their conservation.

For park leaders, protecting parks is a tedious and challenging issue. While staff efforts are important, these efforts must include education with respect to waste management since many people lack awareness or responsibility.

As Gaines points out, if we want to improve conservation ethics, then we must find ways to not only reach more people but communicate ‘trash’ under the covering of accountability and hospitality. By providing quality customer service and proactive discussion, park leaders can encourage their visitors to see the benefits of conservation ethics as it pertains to federal funding and future generations.

Direct download: 162_Improving_Conservation_Ethics.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this episode, Phil Gaines and Dan Cockerell, share ideas on how leaders can improve their communications.

For Gaines in the park world, the two greatest challenges to communication are technological distractions and distance. While more communicational avenues can benefit an organization, employing face-to-face interface should remain a priority as part of a well-rounded a communication structure. The more varied the structure, the more reach potential given different people process information in different ways.

Furthermore, whatever structure is utilized, there should be some corporately understood matrix concerning communication type and the importance of the information being communicated. As for direct forms of communication involving immediate responses, these should always be used anytime opportunities arise to enhance morale and inspire change.

For Cockerell, with so many ways to convey a message, it’s more important for the channel to be authentic than perfect. Additionally, he advises podcasts not be the primary outlet for mandatory information but rather used as an extension of bonus knowledge.

Direct download: 161_How_Leaders_Can_Improve_Their_Communication.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this episode, South Carolina’s former State Parks Director, Phil Gaines, shares some post-retirement wisdom on marketplace ethics.

Having served in multiple executive leadership roles, Gaines points out integrity, is not only the center of ethics but the foundation of sustainable leadership. In order to lead with integrity, there must be a culture of trust that starts from the beginning and endures on the frontlines. Furthermore, before an organization can develop ethical codes, Gaines submits there must first be a foundation marked by character and integrity since the ethical decision isn’t always the right decision.

To help sustain standards of excellence, Gaines charges leaders to address mistakes as they happen, to be mindful of future generations, to see organizational functionality as inclusive to character, and to promote authenticity as an extension of integrity. By prioritizing these focus points, the groundwork for better growth, customer service, stewardship, vision, and accountability is laid.

Direct download: 160_The_Character_of_Ethics.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode, director Alex Jablonski reflects on his documentary, ‘Wildland’, which follows a single wildland firefighting crew over the course of one summer.

In the film, a firefighting crew contracted through Grayback Forestry builds rapport as they struggle to contain fires in northern California. Influenced by his success in ‘Low and Clear’, a tale of two friends who drift apart during their final fly-flying trip, Jablonski discusses the challenges involved in filming around actual fires while building trust with the firefighters.

For many firefighters, not only is the adaptation to life behind a lens difficult, but also the training and action sequences operated under artistic headings. Yet, despite the added pressure, the crew gradually acclimates as they become of age and mature in a dangerous, life-threatening environment.

Jablonski also discusses why he pursued rookie firefighters in casting, his priority of narrative, and the reward of confrontational experience in directing.

Direct download: 159_Following_Wildland_Firefighters.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

In this episode, Christina Zerfas discusses her project, "Cans for Kili”, and her mission to impact the environment on local and global scales. Through eco funding, Christina’s team hopes to collect and recycle over 1.2 million aluminum cans not only to sell for scrap metal but also to reduce Indianapolis’s carbon output.

In addition to raising funds for reforesting and cleaning efforts, Zerfas also plans to garner proceeds by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with three C4K team members next fall. The journey will start by planting indigenous trees at the base of the mountain. Then after summiting, the climbers will collect trash on their way back down, recycling it properly before returning home.

Zerfas reminds us whether or not we’re climbing a mountain in Africa, we can all play a part in increasing local awareness through recycling to benefit future cities all over the world. By thinking green in our own communities, we can inspire the same in others far from home.

Direct download: 158_Act_Local_for_a_Global_Impact.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, James Fester, an educator, part-time volunteer, and Google-certified innovator, discusses park-based learning and its place in the classroom.

When people think of parks, they often don’t think of education. As a result, many schools lack awareness of educational resources provided by county, state, and national parks.

To bridge the gap, Fester unpacks a three-part program designed to facilitate connection through project-based learning. By serving as setup support, the initiative would not only help teachers facilitate learning but allow students to lead assignments and park rangers to participate in the process.

Moving forward, Fester’s team plans to develop free, project-based download units teachers can use in the classroom while continuing to collaborate with parks in developing curriculums.

Direct download: 157_Park_Based_Learning_and_Its_Place_in_the_Classroom.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

What are people looking for in the outdoors? Public spaces are becoming more culturally diverse and the parks services, resources, facilities, etc need to reflect these changes.

Recent graduates are also facing different challenges in the parks recreation and tourism management field these days. For example, drones are now a thing to have to consider.

Dr. Myron Floyd joins the Park Leaders show to discuss health in the parks. He is the department head and professor in parks recreation and tourism management at the North Carolina State University.

There is a clear connection between having a park nearby and more opportunity for physical activity and your health.

Parks have both physical and mental health benefits. They also provide community benefits because they help bring people together.

Green spaces help alleviate stress, improve your mood, and can help people recover from demanding cognitive tasks.

 

Up and coming leaders should be able to deal with unpredictable challenges and have critical thinking skills.

Direct download: 156_The_Relationship_between_Health_and_Parks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00pm PST

Leadership is not black and white.

Once you have a leadership position, most of the decisions and situations you face will not be clear-cut or obvious on what you should do. Not black and white situations. 

Most leaders how to operate in the gray areas. If you have set your operation up correctly, black and white decisions are made on the front line.  

When you are making decisions in the gray area, you have to take information, advice, data, and make a decision based on your values and what is good for your people. 

And then don't look back. Make your decision and keep moving forward. 

Later, if you find out it wasn't the right decision, you make an adjustment as needed. 

If you are a leader, working in the gray is your new normal. 

 

Direct download: Ep_155_-_Working_in_the_gray.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00pm PST

This episode is the start of something special. Phil Gaines, retired Director of South Carolina State Parks, is going to be a semi-regular guest co-host on the Park Leaders Show. 

When parks lose a long-time leader like Phil, we lose so much knowledge and experience. By finding new ways to continue to bring past experiences into the work up and coming leaders are doing, we can continue to build the legacy of parks. 

Empowerment is an overused phrase and an underused practice. Leaders naturally want to have their hand in everything that happens. It is hard to let go and let other people do work that may impact your reputation. 

True empowerment is having front-line employees with the confidence and authority to make decisions. 

In order to empower employees, you have to be comfortable and confident in your vision. 

In this episode, we discuss what empowerment really is and why you need to adopt the idea to become a leader. We also give insight into how to begin to pass some of your responsibility and authority to employees. 

Direct download: Ep_154_-_Empowerment.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00pm PST

When someone visits a park and they are curious, what is the first thing they want to do? Ask a ranger. 

Park Rangers are icons of parks and one of the reasons people enjoy talking with Rangers is because they can answer your questions about nature. 

Now, you no longer have to seek out a Park Ranger in a park to get an answer to your question. 

Park Rangers Jess Phillips and Crystal Lloyd from North Carolina State Parks have launched the Ask a Ranger Podcast

Jess Phillips from William B Umstead State Park and Crystal Lloyd from Falls Lake State Recreation Area teamed up to launch a podcast to be able to reach people who can't or haven't visited their parks. 

Rangers Jess and Crystal share their story of how they started the podcast and some of the episodes they have created. They also offer advice on how you can start a podcast for your own park or agency. 

Park Rangers educate the public every day. A podcast is no different. It is just a new and different tool to allow you to reach new people. 

Direct download: Ep_153_-_Ask_a_Ranger.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:08am PST

On this episode of the Park Leaders Show, we explore maritime archeology with Denise Jaffke

Denise as an Archeologist with California State Parks who is currently working on creating the Emerald Bay Maritime Heritage Trail

Parks play a role in putting together pieces of historical puzzles through archeology. Add water, and there is a new layer of mystery to historical sites. 

Denise explains the great work California is doing to share maritime historical treasures with the citizens of California.

Direct download: Ep_152_-_Denise_Jaffke.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00am PST

To build a solid career, you need to build a solid network of peers, associates, and friends. A strong leader has a strong network.

Dylan Mroszcyk-McDonald returns to the Park Leaders Show to continue our series on leadership and culture in parks.

On this episode, we focus on building a network and how it can help your career.

During your career in parks, you will have the opportunity to meet people in different parks throughout different regions. Building a relationship with them will build a solid relationship, even if the relationship is dormant for a season after you move on.

The diversity of your network will lead to better job performance and increase the opportunity for a promotion.

During the episode, Dylan gives us insight on how to grow and nurture a network that will have an impact on your career.

This episode is the third in a series about leadership and culture in parks. The first three episodes are;

Improving Leadership and Culture in Parks

Innovative Leadership in Parks

The Person is More Important Than the Position

Direct download: Ep_151_-_Networking.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00pm PST

In parks, we have spread the myth of a lone heroic leader at the top.

We give special attention and privilege to someone with a leadership title.

If it takes a hero to lead people, it moves leadership out of the reach of most people.

As leaders, we need to remember the person is more important than the position. You don't have to have a title to be a leader. We need to treat every member of the staff as an important piece of the success of the park and encourage them to be a leader.

Dylan Mroszcyk-McDonald returns to the Park Leaders Show to continue our series on leadership and culture in parks. 

Focusing on a single heroic leader often leads to a staff unable to quickly adapt to change. It leads to competition because people feel there is scarcity in leadership, influence, and importance.

Every contribution is valid. Everyone's work towards our mission is valuable. Park culture would benefit from a shift in this direction rather than highlight a lone heroic leader.

Even if a leader gets accolades for accomplishments, it never would have happened without the team all working towards the same mission.

If you are not in a leadership position, what can you do to set yourself up as a leader?

Leadership is about action. You don't need a title to take action. Decide you are a leader and begin to take action.

Next, consider your supervisor's job. What do they do? What responsibilities do they have? Figure out how you can help contribute to their success. Not only will that help your supervisor, you will learn what it takes to be successful at the next level.

Find additional ways to contribute. Join committees. Volunteer for assignments. People will notice.

This episode is the third in a series about leadership and culture in parks. The first two episodes are;

Improving Leadership and Culture in Parks

Innovative Leadership in Parks

Direct download: Ep_150_-_Leadership.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00pm PST

After 37 years with South Carolina State Parks, Phil Gaines retired as Director. As Phil did during his entire career, he used his last day to lead by example. 

On August 2, 2018, exactly 13 years after becoming Director of South Carolina State Parks, and exactly 37 years after starting his career as a park ranger, Phil Gaines ended his career the same way it began. 

Director Gaines returned to Kings Mountain State Park, the place where he began his career and put on the uniform, transforming back to Ranger Phil. Ranger Phil spent the day cleaning bathrooms, picking up trash, and using a weedeater. 

Phil said he did this on his last day for two reasons. First, so his career would go full circle. Second, to show there are no unimportant jobs in parks. 

On this episode, Phil talks about his final day with parks as well as the changed he has seen in parks during the 37 years he has spent serving visitors to South Carolina parks. 

Throughout his career, Phil Gaines has been an example of leadership and an inspiration to rangers on how to serve. He leaves with this one final example of how we can serve each other and serve guests to our parks. 

The day after his last day, Ranger Phil did what you expected a Park Ranger to do...he went backpacking. 

 

Direct download: Ep_149_-_Phil_Gaines.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00pm PST

Podcasts with Park Rangers is a podcast featuring conversations with Park Rangers from National Parks around the country. 

Lucas and Sarah Villa-Kainec are the hosts of the podcast Podcasts with Park Rangers.  

We sat down together at a picnic table in Fort Worden State Park. In this episode, we discuss their podcast, traveling across the country, and the rangers they have met. 

There are a few podcasts about parks now, but what makes this podcast a little different is they focus on the park rangers rather than focus on the resource. Their conversations highlight the incredible storytelling of park rangers. Podcasts with Park Rangers also shows park rangers are people and not just a resource. 

Direct download: Ep_148_-_Podcasts_With_Park_Rangers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00pm PST

Eben Sypitkowski is the Director of Baxter State Park in Maine. 

Baxter State Park is a unique park. Baxter is a state park in name, but not park of Maine State Parks. The park started as a gift in land and resources from Governor Baxter.

Two more ways Baxter is a unique park; it is completely self-funded.  This removes the park from the usual politics and worry of receiving funds from the state general fund. Second, the park places a priority on wilderness over recreation. 

Eben was recently appointed to Director after being a forester and most recently Resource Manager. Eben discusses the transition from forester to the director. He explains his listening tour to understand the culture of the entire park and get to know the staff. 

Eben has a passion for the place he now has the privilege to manage. Passion for place also inspires the rest of the staff of Baxter State Park. This same passion fuels many of us in parks. 

Direct download: Ep_147_-_Eben_Sypitkowski.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:17pm PST