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Aug 31

App makes it easier to get information on all things JCPRD

Posted on August 31, 2018 at 11:56 AM by Becky Burnside

There’s a new way to connect with JCPRD and keep up with what’s going on and what the district offers.

On July 31 the district launched a mobile app. 

“It provides shortcuts to areas within our new website, such as our calendar, our employment opportunities, golf tee times, park information, current projects, rainout and closure information, etc.,” explained Marketing & Communications Manager Richard Smalley.  “We know around 56 percent of our website users are accessing it on a mobile device, and this helps them to navigate the site easier.”

The app is free and available for both Android and iPhone users.

Development of the new app was included in the website development contract with CivicPlus of Manhattan, Kan., who developed and launched the district’s new website earlier this year.

Android/Google users can download the app through the Google Play store and search for JCPRD. It’s slightly more complicated for iPhone/Apple users, who will be directed by Apple to the CivicPlus app. Once that app has been downloaded, type JCPRD or use the “find your location” feature to select the app and go directly to the menu screen.

Aug 31

Superintendent of Safety, Heritage, and Outdoor Education Dan Field to retire after 37 year

Posted on August 31, 2018 at 11:47 AM by Becky Burnside

After 37 years with JCPRD, Superintendent of Safety, Heritage, and Outdoor Education (SHOE) Dan Field is retiring in late September.   

"It's hard to leave here," Field said recently. "This has been the job I wanted to have since I was in fifth grade. I've done every part of this job, and I enjoyed every moment of it."

"His accomplishments are far-reaching in the law enforcement field, and they're far-reaching in the interpretation field," said JCPRD Executive Director Jill Geller. "He's been a very well-rounded superintendent and park police chief.”  

Field, who completed his 37th year with the district in July, will retire on Sept. 21. He has been superintendent of the SHOE Division since December 2006, and was previously a captain since July 1993. He has served as patrol commander, investigations commander, and operations commander. He started with JCPRD in July 1981 and has previously served as a Ranger I & II, Community Education Coordinator, and Sergeant. Field holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, and both doctorate and master’s degrees in public administration from the University of Missouri - Kansas City. 

His love for nature, the outdoors, and reading led Field to decide while he was still in grade school that he wanted to be a park ranger. 

"I certainly came here (to JCPRD) because of the opportunity to do law enforcement and interpretive programming," Field said, citing officers' dual role in law enforcement and presenting the district's outdoor education programming.   

He cites his creation of the Heritage History Lab program in 1982 as his greatest accomplishment with the district. This interpretive program is a field trip for area fourth and fifth graders, which gives participants a snapshot of early Kansas history through living history presentations of a French fur trapper, an Osage warrior, and a newly-arrived pioneer. 

"Since I had a degree in anthropology, I had the idea of creating three characters that represented different peoples in Kansas in the 1700s to the 1860s," Field said. 

Field estimates that since the program started in 1982, he has portrayed the French fur trader character, Jacque, about 4,200 times over the last 36 years for HHL presentations alone. This does not include conferences and other occasions where he's portrayed the character outside the program setting.

He created and portrayed a number of other interpretive characters along the way as well. These included the Big Bad Wolf in Whimsical Woods, the Old Man from Ecology Encounters, the Lost Voyager from Haunted Kansas, and the Fairy King in Enchanted Fairytale Forest, among many others.

Aug 31

New safety campaign urges parents to Take a Minute, See What’s In It

Posted on August 31, 2018 at 11:39 AM by Becky Burnside

A scary and potentially tragic incident at one of JCPRD’s summer camps has inspired the launch of a new public safety campaign. 

“The Take a Minute, See What’s In It campaign came about as a result of an incident that occurred at New Century Fieldhouse on July 31 when a young child brought a loaded gun in his backpack to one of our camps,” explained Executive Director Jill Geller. “My understanding is that he was fumbling around in his backpack during the camp to grab something else and the gun discharged. Luckily, no one was hurt, but it could have been tragic.”

In response, a meeting of applicable staff was hastily called, and during a brainstorming session which lasted until 8 p.m. that night, the idea for the new backpack safety campaign was formulated. 

“We touch so many lives through our before and after school programs - 1,500 to 1,800 kids every day - and we’ve provided information to all of those parents about the campaign,” Geller said. “We recognize that we are responsible for the safety of children by providing appropriate activities, proper supervision, and safe facilities, but we need the parents to partner with us. That’s why we’ve reached out to parents through direct communication and to the community through a Facebook posting saying ‘please help us out - take a minute and look in your child’s backpack.’”

A total of 5,000 luggage tags for backpacks, and keychains for parents to use have been produced with the Take a Minute, See What’s In It logo to serve as reminders of the new campaign. 

The goal of the campaign, Geller said, is simply to make sure that “what happened never happens again, and we don’t have incidents where children bring items in their backpacks that are inappropriate for their participation in a JCPRD program or camp. We may never truly know the outcome of this campaign. If one, or two, or 200 inappropriate things are found in children’s backpacks, if it opens up conversations among parents and their children, and if it is a learning experience for families, then it is a good thing.”

JCPRD also plans to reach out to other community groups and organizations to see if they would like to be part of this campaign as well. 

“We’ve already been contacted by park and recreation agencies across the state, and have been asked to present at our state conference about the incident and about the backpack campaign,” she said. “If we can get school districts, park and recreation agencies, and others to get on board, our reach will go even farther.”

The executive director added that she is especially proud of the support of JCPRD staff for this campaign. 

“I am really proud of the buy-in we’ve had from our staff on this. “They came up with the idea, they’re implementing it, and they’re promoting it. It’s been a true team effort to make this happen.”