Environmental Maintenance: Global Impact and Your Agency


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Parks and public lands serve an essential role in preserving natural resources and wildlife habitat, protecting clean water and clean air, and providing open space for current and future generations.  Parks and recreation agencies have been in the forefront of the effort to protect the environment for the common good.  This webinar will provide information to help park and recreation professionals make decisions and choose products and improved practices that benefit the environment and support positive impacts on your agency, your community and the world.


Learning Objectives 

Following this session, learners will be able to:

  1. Identify environmental issues and concerns for the future of park maintenance management. 
  2. Understand the role of park and recreation agencies in environmental protection and why this is essential for good maintenance practices. 
  3. Understand how maintenance can be accomplished in an environmentally responsible manner.

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.

Karen L. Hesser, CPRP

Chief of Operations

Five Rivers MetroParks, Dayton, Ohio

A Certified Park and Recreation Professional with more than 30 years of parks and recreation experience in both county and municipal organizations. Focused on engaging individuals, teams, and organizations to envision, strategize, and realize their full potential toward the effectiveness, efficiency, and success of the organization through coaching, mentoring, delegation, and empowering to achieve consistently high-quality work and personal accountability. Proven experience in personnel supervision and management, budgeting, planning, policy development, partnerships, creating park operation plans, strategic reorganizations of personnel, and program development. I have developed successful partnerships with community groups, requests for proposals, leases, employee job descriptions, and special-use agreements. My commitment to the parks and recreation community through positions at the local, state, regional, and national levels allows me to engage with professionals and citizens to strengthen the resources available to staff and the department. Combining executive leadership experience gained in supervisory positions, I offer an insightful, practical, and results-oriented approach to addressing complex organizational challenges.

Gérald R. Checco

Born in Bangui, Central African Republic into a French / Tunisian family, Gérald spent his youth between France and the lesser Antilles on the island of Guadeloupe.  A gifted mathematician, he obtained a Bachelor of Mathematics degree just one year after graduating from high school. He then studied two majors in tandem: Education at the Sorbonne and Engineering and Public Administration at the School of Public Works (école Speciale des Travaux Publics) in Paris, France.

He married American artist Jan Brown Checco in 1981 and they had two daughters Amanda and Emilie, and they now have 3 grandsons.  Having completed his military duties as a lieutenant in the French artillery, Gérald established himself professionally as a consulting engineer on projects commissioned by family members of the King of Saudi Arabia, for whom he designed palaces, mosques and gardens. 

In 1984, the young Checco family moved to Cincinnati, where they have resided ever since. An American diploma would now be essential for engineering practice, so Gérald enrolled at the University of Cincinnati where he obtained a Masters Degree in Structural Engineering in just 9 months. Certified as a Professional Engineer (P.E.) in Ohio and neighboring states, he was employed as Project Manager for an architectural design firm.  In 1991, Gérald was hired by the City of Cincinnati’s Park Board, and became Superintendent in1999.  A recognized expert in parks management, he has taught parks administrators throughout the nation in a North Carolina State University course (PRMMS), and has also lectured internationally on parks-related topics in Japan, France, Germany, Ukraine and China. 

In 2013 Gérald was asked by Cincinnati’s City Manager to become the Director of Public Works, a department that was in leadership crisis with lackluster performance. With improvements completed, in 2015 the Mayor asked him to become the Director of the Metropolitan Sewer District, a department facing multiple audits due to questionable managerial practices and looming Consent Decree deadlines.  These last two appointments earned him the nickname “Cincinnati’s Fixer” for his ability to quickly reorganize troubled departments, improving performance and establishing ethical behaviors. 

After retiring from City service in 2018, Gérald went on the 500-mile hike of his dreams - the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain, and then wrote a reflective, philosophical book - “The Tao of My Camino.”  He then translated from the original French to English, a play by Ivorian author Maurice Bandaman.  Gérald is now a Director on the Boards of the Mill Creek Valley Conservancy District, the Urban Forestry Advisory Board, the Charter Committee of Greater Cincinnati, Green Umbrella, the Sawyer Point Board of Visitors, and serves as the Treasurer of the community council where he resides.  He also works as a consultant for government efficiency and effectiveness.  He and Jan reside in their solar and geothermal-powered home in Clifton.

During the COVID19 crisis Gérald was part of a team of volunteers that organized a community response to the pandemic.  This effort included a fund raising effort aimed at providing free meals for Health Care workers, a beautification/ spring cleaning effort throughout his neighborhood, and the creation of new outdoor “food courts” to help restaurants.

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