Conservation and the Future

Today I met with students at George Mason University to discuss the importance of positioning parks and recreation. I welcome these opportunities because I always learn far more than I share. For example, I asked each student what he or she planned to do upon graduation. One student replied, "I'm going to do recreational programming." While I assumed he meant recreation in a community center, he quickly corrected me. He plans to organize hikes, camping, and other outdoor recreational outings. It was my mistake to assume that I knew what he was talking about based on the words he used.

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Publication: Parks & Recreation
Author: Tulipane, Barbara
Date published: December 1, 2011

Using the correct terminology is important, but of course what is "correct" for me may not be for others. This point was also driven home to me recently after I made my remarks at the Opening General Session at NRPA's Congress in Atlanta. My message was that "conservation" would grow in importance as communities struggle with the protection of their natural resources and, therefore, the role of parks and recreation agencies would increase. Some members of the audience thought that I was talking about land acquisition while I was really addressing water management, clean air, urban forests, the protection of wetlands and wildlife, and the control of invasive species. All of these things contribute to creating sustainable communities.

A community that values its resources and its citizens recognizes the importance of being good stewards. Elected offi cials and community leaders will look to park and recreation agencies to provide leadership in this area. This is also an outstanding opportunity for agencies to gain new sources of funding, create new partnerships, and build even stronger support from the public. In fact, in many ways, this is what the public is telling us to do, as evidenced by 75 percent voter approval for land conservation measures.

It saddens me to think that some felt my remarks about conservation were at the expense of support for recreation programs and services. Both are critically important to communities. Today, however, we have an opportunity to position parks and recreation agencies as leaders in community conservation efforts and environmental stewardship. Let's embrace this opportunity. Our future depends on it.

Please share your conservation success stories with me, or, better yet, invite me to your location so I can learn how our agencies are contributing to community environmental efforts.

Author affiliation:

Barbara tulipane, Cae

president and ceo

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