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Feb 27

JCPRD’s Bill Maasen, Rebecca Earp, and Flowing with Nature program honored at state conference

Posted on February 27, 2020 at 1:31 PM by Becky Burnside

Some new awards and honors were recently picked up by JCPRD staff, a volunteer, and a program.

These honors include three awards at the Kansas Recreation and Park Association annual conference which took place in Topeka in early February: Superintendent of Parks and Golf Courses Bill Maasen received the Distinguished Fellow Award, Volunteer Rebecca Earp received the Distinguished Volunteer Award, and an outdoor education program called Flowing with Nature received the Outstanding New or Innovative Wellness Program award. In addition to these awards at the state conference, Postlewait was also named as a recipient of the National Association for Interpretation Region VI Fellow/Lifetime achievement award, and Meadowbrook Park received a Capstone Award from the Kansas City Business Journal

The nomination for Maasen’s Distinguished Fellow Award notes that during his more than 33 years with JCPRD, he has tripled the agency’s acreage by acquiring more than 6,500 acres, and has written grants which have brought in more than $3.5 million to support land and other projects.

“As if managing 13 direct reports, over 50 full-time employees and 100 seasonals isn't enough, Bill also manages ten developed regional and sub-regional parks, two 18-hole golf courses, streamway parks and trails, park land exceeding 10,000 acres with visitations that exceed seven million,” the nomination states. “He does so with ease and excellence. Bill is a leader in this industry locally, statewide, and nationally, and is instrumental in keeping the culture of JCPRD lively, fun, progressive, strong, and most importantly, a great place to work.”

A JCPRD program, the Kansas City Corporate Challenge (KCCC) is the largest corporate games in the United States, with over 33,000 athletes from 220 companies competing in 29 events over a three-month period. Implementing these games is no small feat, and is highly dependent on volunteers to make it happen. Rebecca Earp has been one of those volunteers for more than 10 years. She began as a KCCC athlete, then progressed to a volunteer company coordinator, was tapped to serve on the KCCC Board of Directors, and then continued her commitment and dedication to the program by becoming KCCC's official photographer and videographer. It has been estimated that Earp has given at least 7,000 hours to KCCC over the past ten years. 

“Rebecca's generosity of time and talent over more than a decade, cannot be understated and the fact that she does it with such grace and positivity is amazing, serving as an example for us all,” her nomination states. “Her professionalism and quality are on the same level as anyone who does this as a career. She has made an enormous difference to our agency and our community alike from her dedication and leadership in helping make our games the success they continue to be.”

Flowing with Nature, an outdoor education program for ages 16 and older meant to engage participants in outdoor yoga, kayaking, nature walks/exploration, and journaling, received KRPA’s Innovative Wellness Program Award. This well-received program was developed by Senior Park Naturalist Molly Postlewait and Seasonal Park Naturalist Robin Olson, and was presented in April 2019 at JCPRD’s TimberRidge Adventure Center.
“Event leaders blended a sense of adventure and self-discovery in the planning of the day,” the nomination states. “The emphasis of the day was to encourage healthy life-long activities to support wellbeing. Storytelling and poetry were utilized on the nature walks, and sensory experiences with the sounds and smells of nature helped the group be ‘in the moment.’”

In addition to the awards presented at this year’s KRPA convention, JCPRD Superintendent of Recreation Rhonda Pollard was selected as KRPA’s president for 2021. This is actually a three-year commitment as Pollard will serve as president-elect in 2020 and past chair in 2022. Pollard has been with JCPRD since February 2005, and has served as superintendent of recreation since May 2014.

Postlewait’s Fellow/Lifetime achievement award was presented in late February at the NAI Region 6 Workshop in Bartlesville, Okla. This award recognizes her for her 40 years of experience in the field of interpretation, adventure programming, and storytelling.

“During her career she has touched and inspired the lives of hundreds of thousands of people through her stories, living history portrayals, challenge course programs, summer camps, and special events,” the nomination states. “Her boundless enthusiasm, creativity, and hard work is contagious and results in countless memories for her program participants. Molly has made significant contributions to the interpretive field, not only through her programs but also by mentoring other professionals regionally, nationally, and internationally.”

For more than 22 years, Postlewait has been a park naturalist with JCPRD, where she has developed more than 50 programs, from programs for preschoolers, to summer camps, to school fieldtrips, to adult wellness programs, to special events. She also presents up to 200 environmental and heritage programs per year. Postlewait is well known for her storytelling and the many colorful and engaging characters she portrays in her programs. She also mentors and trains volunteers, part-time staff, and Johnson County Park Police officers.  She has been involved in many professional organizations; has presented at more than 20 professional workshops at the international, national, regional, and local levels; and has received numerous honors, including being named an NAI Master Front-Line Interpreter, receiving nine Region 6 NAI awards, and twice being named employee of the year for her division at JCPRD.

In addition, The Kansas City Business Journal recently gave a Capstone Award in the Community Impact division to Meadowbrook Park.  These awards are given to honor those companies that have been involved in real estate development projects and transactions that enhance the Kansas City area. The new Johnson County Library at Lenexa City Center also received an award in this category.