2024 MRPA Annual Conference

57th Annual MRPA Conference

“We Are Maine.  Building Community Connections.”

March 17-19, 2024




As of March 11, 2024 our exhibit hall is full. We hope to see you at a future MRPA event



Sunday, March 17, 2024

1:30 pm – 5:00 pm     Registration          Samoset Lobby

2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Session 1           MyRec.com Recreation Software User Group
This session for current MyRec.com users will cover all features of the software including important updates since we last met. We will highlight our newest features, demonstrate how you could and should use the system while giving you tips and tricks to make your life easier. There will be a question/answer period for all involved. Let’s share how you simplify your recreation management!
Presenter:  Colin Drury MyRec

Session 2           Not Just Buzz Words . . . Meaningful Activities To Create Connection and Facilitate Teambuilding (.2 CEU)
If your staff, across every level, is cohesive and connected, will that make a positive difference in the effectiveness of all your programs? When you think about the important messages that you want to convey to your staff as part of their training, is Teamwork one of them? In his book, Community: The Structure of Belonging, author Peter Block wrote, “We must establish a personal connection with each other. Connection before content. Without relatedness, no work can occur.” These concepts apply to us and everyone in our organizations. For our best work to happen, we need to build inclusive teams based on authentic connection. In this high energy pre-conference session, we will discuss and experience the value of connection and the benefits of working as a team. You will take away an assortment of fun, interactive and thought-provoking activities to incorporate into your staff training as you create and strengthen your cohesive and connected team. As an added bonus, you will connect with other attendees from the very beginning of the conference . . . Connection Before Content!
Presenters:  Roz and Jed Training & Consulting

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Directors and First Time Conference Attendees
For the past 2 years MRPA has been offering an online opportunity for new directors to discuss issues, ask questions, get advice and share. This group of dedicated peers share and support each other through their challenges of leadership. The group provides a mutually beneficial source of inspiration, information, and collaboration for all members. This hour is open to anyone who would like to join us! We encourage conference first timers to make time to be with us and make connections!
Facilitated by: MRPA Executive Director Deb Smith and MRPA board members

5:30 – 8:30 pm       Social Event at the Oakland Park Bowling Alley

Is bowling right up your alley?  Well that’s how we roll for our Sunday night entertainment.  Come together and leave no pin standing.  Northeast Charter will be transporting you to the Oakland Park Bowling alley for a fun night of bowling, arcade games, snacks and more.  We will provide pizza, a free drink ticket, quarters for the arcade and fun with friends.  Bring cash for any other purchases.  Let’s have a ball!

Monday, March 18, 2024

7:30 am – 12:00 pm      Registration      Samoset Lobby

7:30 am – 8:45 am        Breakfast

9:00 am – 10:15 am

Session 3           Building Culture and Optimizing Performance and Well-being (.1 CEU)
Whether it is performing in the classroom, on-stage, on the athletic field, or in the office, people are under a tremendous amount of pressure. Mental skills training can prepare you to optimize performance and well-being through evidence-based skills, habits, and tools that are grounded in positive and sport psychology. This work is used more and more now within collegiate and pro sports teams and cultures (particularly at high levels), and there is an opportunity to embed some of the same principles to our office spaces and personal lives. This workshop will dig into just that — exploring activities and tools to navigate building a strong culture and high-performing program while simultaneously supporting well-being.
Presenter:  Lani Silversides  Founder Strong Girls United Foundation    

Session 4           Programming and Planning Programs for Older Adults. Fun Isn’t Just for Kids (.1 CEU)
The 55+ adult population is a very diverse group with diverse interests, abilities, and with a variety of different lived experiences. Using marketing communications that are “age friendly” tend to be universally more friendly -and when information is easy to understand, everyone benefits! Let’s chat about what barriers might be present in marketing and in programs for older adults, and we will close the session with brainstorming some program ideas for different levels of participation!
Presenter:  Gail Platts Standish Parks and Recreation Adult and Community Events Coordinator

Session 5          Maine’s Paid Family Medical Leave: Update and Listening Session
Here’s your chance to learn all about Maine’s Paid Family Medical Leave. In this session, we will provide an overview of the PFML Program including key implementation dates, rule-making, reasons for leave, requirements and eligibility, information for employers, benefit calculations, answer any questions, and receive feedback that you have about this program.
Presenters: Luke Monahan Director  and Reginald Parson Deputy Director Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave Program, Maine Department of Labor

Session 6           Management Planning for your Parks and  Open Space Properties (.1 CEU)
A general management plan helps to set objectives and strategies for conservation, development, interpretation, operation, and more. Agencies develop property management plans to meet broad management goals or to address location-specific concerns for parks and open spaces. Share and discuss options for developing a plan, processes and their challenges, possible outlines, and how your plans can be used as a valuable tool for your agency.
Presenters:  Yarmouth Parks, Recreation, and Community Services staff: Erik Donohoe Parks Specialist and Karyn MacNeill Director

10:15 am – 10:45 AM      Visit With The Exhibitors

10:45 am – 11:45 am      Conference Keynote Presentation

Love What You Do! Increasing Engagement for You and Your Team (.1 CEU)
When you start your day, do you think “I have to go to work” or “I get to go to work”? Getting to go to work means you understand the purpose of your job, feel appreciated, and have fun! This highly interactive session includes a mix of thought-provoking discussion as well as dynamic activities to empower individuals to increase their own engagement as well as encourage managers to increase the engagement of the teams they lead.
Presenters:  Roz and Jed Training & Consulting

11:45 am – 12:15 pm              Visit With The Exhibitors

12:15 pm – 1:15 pm                Lunch & MRPA Business Meeting

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm  

Session 7           How to say YES to Outdoor Programming (.1 CEU)
For 25 years, White Pine Programs has been dedicated to providing year-round outdoor programming in York, Maine. Our diverse offerings, ranging from forest school and after-school programs to summer camps, are designed to immerse youth in nature, fostering connections with the environment, self, and peers. Despite some inherent challenges posed by working outside (Maine’s unpredictable weather!), our teaching concepts are straightforward, easy to use, and effective. Join us in this session to gain insights into best practices for hiring and training staff, acquiring the necessary land for programs, setting expectations with parents, and crafting a high-quality, enjoyable program. Discover how our approach subtly emphasizes personal growth and leadership development, creating a transformative experience for participants.
Presenter: Heather Campbell Executive Director White Pine Programs

Session 8       Ensuring Project Success and Creating Sustainable Athletic Fields and Greenspaces (.1 CEU)
How to ensure your project’s success by providing an independent perspective, facilitating shared decision-making, and applying broad – based knowledge across all phases and aspects of the project lifecycle, this presentation will help you address issues before they become problems. The project lifecycle ends with sustainable greenspaces and athletic fields that provide recreation and enjoyment for generations. Learn why good design is important, what a high -quality bid looks like, the importance of correct contractor selection, the importance of project oversight, and why management and maintenance will provide sustainability.
Presenter: Ian Lacy – Lead Project Advisor Tom Irwin Advisors

Session 9           How to Maximize the Quality of Grass on Athletic Fields (.1 CEU)
This presentation highlights the basics with managing natural grass fields and how to maximize budgets to get the best results for the fields. Topics covered would include soils, watering, fertilizing, seeding, mowing and supplemental applications.  Questions are welcomed and encouraged!
Presenter: Justin Santos Technical Sales Rep Atlantic Golf and Turf

Session 10         Assessing Your Culture and Strategic Plan to include Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (.1 CEU)
Let’s discuss the integration of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion into the fabric of your organization’s structure to better reflect these values in your mission and vision. Through a culture assessment, you’ll develop the means from which DEI can become the foundation to build your team’s work. By assessing, then changing, or adjusting your organization’s structure to infuse DEI work within it, you will identify the “North Star” that provides guidance and direction for all that you do.
Presenters:  Umaru Balde Justice, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Director City of Portland and
Masi Ngidi-Brown PhD Employee Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Specialist

2:45 pm – 4:00 pm

Session 11         You Can’t Get There From Here (.1 CEU)
How to break away from “this is how we have done it” and build new partnerships with other community organizations. This is something that I have been working on. I just feel like I’m not the only person who has heard “that’s how we have always done it” or not know why the bridge was burned between you and another local organization. And after joining on the few calls, I have; I think I could provide ideas and information on what I have done and am doing to change that sentiment.
Presenter:  Daniel MacGlashing Director of Belgrade Recreation                                                      

Session 12         Mental Health First Aid an Overview (.1 CEU)
A brief introduction on how to recognize the early signs and symptoms of  mental health challenges and how to embrace the awkward conversation to reduce the stigma around mental health and identify appropriate resources.
Presenter:  Abigail DiPasquale Health Promotion Coordinator at Maine Municipal Association

Session 13         Unlocking Creativity with AI: Using Generative AI for Park and Recreation Program Development, Efficiency, and Community Engagement (.1 CEU)
How can you leverage the power of AI to take your work to the next level? In this session, we’ll explore how Generative AI can help you save time, increase productivity, and create engaging content and programs. Learn how to utilize AI functionality in tools like Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Adobe and Canva plus new tools like ChatGPT and Copy AI, for everything from event planning and budgeting, social media and event descriptions, grant writing and program development. Plus, get best practices and tips for safely and effectively incorporating AI into your workflows. If you’re looking to learn how AI can help you get more done with less and maximize your impact in your community, this session is for you.
Presenter: Rebecca Emery APR Founder of Seacoast AI                                                    

Session 14     Developing Competitors Through Positive Coaching (.1 CEU)
The research and experiences of great coaches across the country is clear: Positive is Powerful. In this highly interactive workshop– attendees explore how to pursue sustained success for their athletes both on and off the field by developing competitors and life skills through sports. Attendees will leave knowing how to establish a Positive Youth Sports Culture where athletes feel safe, seen, heard, and valued using the following principles: building trusting relationships, ELM Tree of mastery, filling emotional tanks and honoring the game.
Presenter:  Tracy Jones Positive Coaching Alliance

Session 15     Master Planning / Park Design (.1 CEU)
Parks and Open Space is an important part of our community fabric and local neighborhoods. Design and process helps articulate the community needs and allows the local community, town / city to create spaces for people that will be enjoyed for generations.
Presenter:  Seth Kimball Aceto Landscape Architects

Exhibitor Social                           5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

MRPA Awards Banquet               6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Social Event                                 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Let the fun begin!  We invite you to join us for our Monday night carnival.  Challenge your colleagues to a game of laser tag, cornhole, giant jenga, inflatable ax throwing and much more.  Earn raffle tickets to win great prizes, enjoy light snacks and a cash bar.  Life is a carnival, come enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

7:30 am – 8:50 am                         Breakfast

7:30 am – 9:00 am                          Registration

9:00 am – 10:00 am

Session 16         Dip Down, To Rise Up” – A Cold-water Dipping Experience (.1 CEU)
(this is a 2-hour session)
A hands-on “classroom education session” explaining how I came to cold-water dipping and how this practice benefits individuals and groups specifically around mental health, empowerment and community building. This would be followed by an experiential cold-water dip on site at The Samoset. Presence at dip required, participation optional but encouraged.
Presenter: Amy Hopkins

Session 17         Increasing Trail Access (this is a 2-hour session) (.2 CEU)
What does it look like to create trails and outdoor spaces that are more inviting, inclusive, and supportive of people living with different disabilities? How can we rethink outdoor spaces and how we communicate about them to welcome people who have historically been marginalized in conservation and the outdoors?
Presenters: Kara Wooldrik Outdoor Inclusion Specialist, Community Geographics and
Enock Glidden Outdoor Accessibility Specialist, Community Geographics

Session 18         Grow More Leaders (.1 CEU)
We all know that no leader can do everything without assistance from a strong team. One of our most important roles as leaders is to shape and empower the next generation of leaders. This interactive session focuses on experiential and participant-centered activities that will give us tools to use in training young, emerging leaders within our organizations as well as strengthening our personal leadership skills.
Presenters:  Roz and Jed Training & Consulting

Session 19         Get A GRIP (.1 CEU)
Parks and recreation professionals need to maintain and manage a healthy financial policy in their department. Learn how Poland and Raymond’s directors manage their financial policies, sponsorships, accepting donations, relationship building with town financial staff an    pre-planning. Each town may manage funds differently and have varying size budgets. Shared experiences can help us all realize there are things we could do more efficiently.
Presenters:  Scott Segal Director Poland Parks and Recreation and
Joe Crocker Director of Raymond Parks and Recreation

10:15 – 11:15 am

Session 20         Leading Your Organization: Developing a Positive Coaching Culture (.1 CEU)
Creating a positive, character-building youth or high school sports experience requires organizational leaders committed to creating and maintaining a Development Zone™ for developing “Better Athletes, Better People.” This workshop helps your leadership team do exactly that. One key outcome of the workshop is identifying an action plan for your organization and the population it serves. Throughout the workshop, and reflected in this action plan, is an emphasis on PCA’s “Single-Goal” Leader model, in which shaping the culture of your organization is the primary task of your leadership team. Along the way, a focus will be placed on aligning around a common vision for your organizational culture, recognizing strengths and growth opportunities that can contribute to or detract from achieving the group’s vision, and identifying tasks necessary to complete the vision and determine which leaders are responsible for completing those tasks.  Within this workshop, attendees will learn more about what bringing PCA and our principles into individual associations may look like.
Presenter:  Tracy Jones Positive Coaching Alliance

Session 21         Increasing Trail Access      (continued from session 17)

Session 22         Programming Round Table
Brainstorming and sharing with others who create recreation programs can bring diverse perspectives, innovative ideas, and collaborative solutions, which may enhance the quality and appeal of your programs. It’s a chance to leverage collective creativity and ensure your recreation offerings cater to a broader audience.  Depending on the audience at this session, we will look to break out into various groups such as, programming for older adults, programming for teens, childcare, and programming for adults and youth.
Facilitators: Gail Platts Standish Parks and Recreation and other TBA

Session 23         Directors’ Round Table
Here is an opportunity for Directors/Assistant Directors/Deputy Directors from small, medium, and large departments to share experiences, exchange insights, and stay updated on industry trends.  This supportive network can be a valuable tool for problem solving, sharing, and collaborating. Listen to questions, offer advice and help find solutions.  Depending on the audience at this session, we will share in one large group or break out into smaller groups.
Facilitator: TBA

Session 24           Dip Down, To Rise Up” – A Cold-water Dipping Experience (continued from the 9:00 am session)