2020 We Are Essential Bundle

This essential bundle is a collection of 2020 Virtual sessions that focus on the pivotal roles Park and Recreation professionals serve in the community. Upon completion, the sessions included in this bundle are eligible for 0.3 CEU. The fourth session is included for no additional cost and eligible for 0.034 CEU.


Sessions included in this bundle:

  1. Public Life Is an Essential City Service: Reimagining Recreation and Parks as Integral to the Development of Your City (0.1 CEU)
  2. Did COVID-19 Make Us Essential? (0.1 CEU)
  3. The Essential Role of Parks and Recreation Throughout COVID-19 (0.1 CEU)
  4. Food Access in the Time of COVID-19 (0.034 CEU)



NRPA Education online learning content is accessible for 180 days from the date of your registration. The learning content is available for registration for one year from the date of origination.

  • Food Access in the Time of COVID-19

    Contains 4 Component(s), Includes Credits

    Join this 2020 Virtual Conference archive to discover five, key ways park and recreation agencies and their staff can play an integral role in supporting community nutrition, and support food access and health opportunities for community members of all ages.

    Park and recreation agencies and their staff play an integral role in ensuring access to healthy foods to support community health and well-being. Through lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, here are five key ways park and recreation professionals can play an even greater role in supporting community nutrition, and support food access and health opportunities for community members of all ages:

    • Innovating food distribution services, including partnerships to support food access beyond federal child nutrition programs.
    • Supporting community gardening and CSA programs to build a connection with nature and the food system.
    • Offering SNAP and WIC benefit assistance, including eligibility screenings, enrollment support, and retention assistance.
    • Hosting farmers markets to increase access to fresh, local foods and support local economy.
    • Conducting well-being checks and serving as community resource centers to connect community members to local support systems.


    Learning Objectives
    Following this session, learners will be able to:

    1. Address the ways park and recreation professionals have supported communities during COVID-19.
    2. Discuss lessons learned and best practices moving forward.
    3. Identify resources available to support food access strategies. 

    NRPA Education online learning content is accessible for 180 days from the date of your registration. The learning content is available for registration for one year from the date of origination.

    Maureen Neumann

    Program Manager

    National Recreation and Park Association

    Maureen Neumann is a Program Manager for the National Recreation and Park Association. As a part of the Health and Wellness team, she focuses on healthy out-of-school time programming and inclusive practices in parks and recreation. 

  • The Essential Role of Parks and Recreation Throughout COVID-19

    Contains 4 Component(s), Includes Credits

    Join this 2020 Virtual session to hear three park and recreation directors explain how park and recreation agencies were essential in supporting community health and wellness throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic.

    During times of crisis, park and recreation professionals have repeatedly proven they are trusted community leaders capable of swiftly providing or supporting a host of rapid emergency response and relief services. These services include food distribution, emergency residential shelter, and safe zones, childcare for essential workers, maintenance and sanitation of public spaces to ensure safety, communications dissemination, leveraging facilities and spaces to support community needs, and scaling other necessary emergency response functions. Park and recreation professionals also manage essential infrastructure, including parks, trails, open spaces, community, and senior centers, pools and cooling centers, as well as countless other tasks that protect, support, and enable the public's physical and mental health. Join three park and recreation directors as they share how their agencies were essential in supporting community health and well-being throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Learning Objectives

    Following this session, learners will be able to:

    1. Understand practices that are essential in parks and recreation.
    2. Determine how to navigate need and program challenges.

    NRPA Education online learning content is accessible for 180 days from the date of your registration. The learning content is available for registration for one year from the date of origination.

    Allison Colman

    National Recreation and Park Association

    National Recreation and Park Association

    Allison Colman is the Director of Health for the National Recreation and Park Association on the Health and Wellness team.  Allison joined NRPA in 2015 and oversees the out-of-school time portfolio, including NRPA’s Commit to Health campaign and efforts to reduce childhood hunger through the USDA Child Nutrition programs. Allison also manages NRPA Parks for Inclusion initiative. Prior to joining NRPA, Allison worked in the recreation field facilitating health and wellness programs across all populations.  Combined with her work in other non-profits and organizations, Allison has extensive experience in public health and wellness program management and preventative health initiatives.   

    Lakita Watson, CPRP

    Executive Director

    Richland County Recreation Commission

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    Kristin Zimmerman

    Parks Administrator

    Mohave County Parks

    Dan West

    Director

    Broward County Parks and Recreation

  • Did COVID-19 Make Us Essential?

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    Join this 2020 Virtual session and learn how agencies across the country have responded to the COVID-19 crisis with in-house and partner programming for those relegated to their homes. Discover how agencies can capitalize on that work to strengthen their value as an essential service.

    Every park and recreation professional knows how essential our agencies' services are to the health and wellness of communities across the nation of every size and composition, but decision-makers and voters don't always connect what we do with the value we bring. At no time in recent history has our agencies' value been more obvious than during this current COVID-19 pandemic. This session will explore how agencies across the country have responded to the crisis with both in-house and partner programming for those relegated to their homes and how agencies can capitalize on that work to strengthen their value as an essential service.


    Learning Objectives
    Following this session, learners will be able to:

    1. List at least five different ideas for virtual health and wellness programming offered during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.
    2. Quantify the value virtual programs brought to their communities.
    3. Describe strategies that will enhance the public’s image of parks and recreation as an essential service in the aftermath of COVID-19.



    NRPA Education online learning content is accessible for 180 days from the date of your registration. The learning content is available for registration for one year from the date of origination.

    Janet Bartnik, CPRP

    Director of Parks and Recreation,

    Liberty Parks and Recreation

    Early in her tenure in Liberty, Janet Bartnik displayed her talent for developing innovative partnerships by engaging four community partners in a project to study and strategically plan to address childhood obesity through a Healthy Communities Research Group project. She has worked with the Liberty Park Board to develop a new vision, mission, and capital project plan for the Department and has worked with the Liberty Parks and Recreation Charitable Fund to receive public charity status.

    For a decade prior to joining Liberty's team, Bartnik was the Director in Raymore, MO, a fast-growing community of 15,000 south of Kansas City. Janet has been aggressive in seeking alternative strategies for funding, land acquisition, and had developed a recreation program for Raymore which had previously only had parks.

    Janet's commitment to the field of Parks and Recreation is evident in her involvement with a wide range of professional associations. She has served the profession in the following capacities:

    • MPRA – President 2011-12, Board Member, Study and Research Chair, Long Range Planning Committee, Leadership Development Institute Charter Regent
    • NRPA – Administrators Network Chair 2015-16, Annual Conference Program Committee 2016-present
    • American Academy for Parks and Recreation Administration member
    • Board of Regents, Rocky Mountain Revenue and Management School for 5 years, Chair in 2012
    • Lyle B Beaver Leadership Development Institute Board of Regents
    • Member of the Council on Accreditation for Parks, Recreation, and Tourism and campus visitor

    Bartnik holds a B.S. in Exercise Science and an M.S. in Sport Management from Virginia Tech University.

    Cortney Weinstock

    Special Events, Rangers & Permits Division Chief

    Baltimore City Recreation and Parks

  • Public Life Is an Essential City Service: Reimagining Recreation and Parks as Integral to the Development of Your City

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    This 2020 Virtual session will guide learners through the community co-creation process used to create the Office of Integrated Development (OID) in Akron, Ohio, and how the Division of Recreation and Parks leads on development within the city.

    In the summer of 1968, American cities experienced riots and unrest sparked by centuries of racial discrimination. Akron, Ohio, was no different. In response, the city of Akron leaders convened a task force to recommend pathways toward a more equitable community. Investment in recreation and parks were top priorities and municipal leaders at the time responded. It had been 40 years since the city last reviewed that plan when Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan launched a plan to unify all municipal departments that impact development. Through that process, a reinvigorated Division of Recreation and Parks joined planning, engineering, development to form the Office of Integrated Development (OID). This session will guide participants through the community co-creation process used to create OID, and how the Division of Recreation and Parks leads to development within the city.


    Learning Objectives
    Following this session, learners will be able to:

    1. Compare their own organizational structure to OID and evaluate if a similar structure would benefit their organization.
    2. Develop an understanding of how strong recreation and parks align with city economic development goals.
    3. Demonstrate an appreciation for the power of co-creation and community engagement in strategic planning that participants can apply in their organization.




    NRPA Education online learning content is accessible for 180 days from the date of your registration. The learning content is available for registration for one year from the date of origination.

    Brittany Schmoekel

    Recreation and Parks Manager

    City of Akron

    Brittany Schmoekel has more than 17 years of experience with the city of Akron, Ohio, in the Recreation and Parks division. She speaks often to community groups and organizations about the revitalization and restructuring of the division and the focus they have on public space and public life that encourage deeper connections within the community.

    James Hardy

    Deputy Mayor for Integrated Development, Akron, Ohio

    City of Akron

    James Hardy is Deputy Mayor for Integrated Development for the City of Akron, Ohio.  In this role he manages planning and urban design functions, economic development, recreation and parks, downtown operations, and elements of engineering.  He previously served as Chief of Staff to Mayor Daniel Horrigan, and is a 2020-21 Fulcrum Fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy's Center for Community Investment.