Did COVID-19 Make Us Essential?

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

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