Friday, October 22, 2021

Our Parks and Recreation Story: The Faces of Southlake Programs

Park and Recreation Month may officially be over, but it’s never too late to celebrate the world-class programming team behind all your favorite community activities.

Let’s get to know them a little better as they share Our Parks and Recreation Story:

Hannah Nyquist, Programs Coordinator

This summer, we hosted our third Cross Timbers Nature Camp at the Bob Jones Nature Center! When I started in 2019, I spent my first day learning the ropes of camp. Two years later and Nature Camp has grown in so many ways. We have a steady following of return campers that we have seen grow over the years and got to know dozens of families. This summer, I was thrilled to have a team of experienced counselors- including our beloved Camp Director, Madeleine Mott. We expanded Nature Camp from a concept to a family, and I am incredibly proud to be a part of that. Together we were able to serve over 200 campers!

Hiking to Grapevine Lake, having weekly presenters teach our campers, and watching staff blossom into remarkable counselors are some of my favorite memories this summer. We also have the pleasure and responsibility to share the importance of stewardship with our campers, along with the Jones Family’s remarkable story.

This summer, we added Forest Preschool classes outside of our fall and spring semesters. I served as Lead Teacher for these classes and taught alongside our incredibly gifted and passionate preschool teachers. Our Friday Forest Preschool days meant hours playing outside, hiking, and exploring with almost 100 preschoolers. We focused on different animals who live at BJNCP, the word “habitat,” and how important it is to respect nature.

Gretchen Morgan, Programs Coordinator

I started as a counselor in 2019. Summer Camp Mania changed my life for the greater good in various ways. I learned to be a listener, role model, creator, achiever, and leader. I got to enhance my skills through special events and programs. In 2020, I applied to become a full-time employee. This year, I received the full-time position of Programs Coordinator. I could not be prouder and more honored to step into this role for the City of Southlake.

This summer, Camp Mania was located at Durham Intermediate School. Games, crafts, and activities filled each day. Some days guests would come to share their talents with our campers. These guests were from the City of Southlake Fire Department, Airbrush Tattoos, Kona Ice, and Martial Arts. On Thursdays, we would explore Bicentennial Park and swim in our Aquatics Center at The Marq. We take each moment we have with each camper to impact them positively.

We also manage our Club Metro program located at Legend’s Hall. Club Metro is an adaptive recreation program that welcomes adults with special needs. These participants come twice a week to socialize, eat, and have fun. Some activities we do are scavenger hunts, basketball tournaments, and crafts. We also meet once a month every Saturday for Sports Saturday. This program gives the participants a chance to learn volleyball, basketball, dodgeball while moving their bodies and learning new skills.

Overall, our programs create a place to learn about a sport, play a game, and socialize. They also provide a safe and fun environment for participants to learn, grow, and become their amazing selves.

Madeleine Mott, Camp Director

I love when people ask me what I do for a living because I get to answer in so many unexpected and fun ways. For example, I hike for a living, am a mad scientist, am an entomologist. I mass-produce future tree huggers, make a lasting difference in children’s lives, and am a snake charmer. I play games all day, am a medic, a forest preschool teacher, a butterfly whisperer. I am an edible plants taster, a steward, an artist. I am a nature camp director.

Working at the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve, I have the opportunity to wear so many different hats. I love our programs, their participants, and the enthusiastic individuals I get to work with every day. I enjoy how working for the Programs Division allows me to explore this beautiful preserve and teach future generations how to love and take care of it and its inhabitants. At the BJNCP, I truly live out the “Life is Good” motto. “Do what you like, like what you do.”

Emma Blight, Camp Director

The Programs Division creates a space for people of all ages to learn, grow, and connect with our staff and other participants. While working in our programs, I have built relationships and made memories that will last a long time. From programs such as Camp Mania, Club Metro, to Breakfast with Santa, one of my favorite things we do is provide hands-on experiences for everyone involved. Whether that is playing against the Southlake DPS in a game of dodgeball at Camp Mania, or getting to play with a baby kangaroo at Club Metro, the experiences we provide are truly exciting.

Courtney Duplechin, Programs Supervisor

This team never ceases to amaze me. I am so proud of each person who has contributed to the success of the Programs Team! My favorite part of Programs is that each team member is so incredibly passionate about what we do. Whether they are playing games with kids or planning the next big event, this talented team thinks through every detail and how it connects people to nature, friends, family, new hobbies, the community, creativity, and more! Everyone is willing to go the extra mile to give our participants a special moment to remember.

I started working for Southlake Parks and Recreation in 2015 as a Camp Mania counselor. A favorite part of my job is seeing kids who were once campers or volunteers in my group grow up to volunteer or work for the Programs team. It is so special, even though it confirms I’m getting old, to know that we are making an impact in a child’s life and that years later, they want to join the team to do the same for others.

We love what we do, give our all to providing exciting and educational programs, and care deeply for the people we serve.

Thank you to the Programs Team for being so committed to creating life-long memories for the Southlake community!

Our Park and Recreation Story: Recreation Specialist Kat Dye

Southlake Senior Activity Center Members will tell you that a trip to the SAC is guaranteed to be a world-class experience.

At the Senior Center, we pride ourselves on providing our seniors with top-notch services every day. From offering innovative social programs and weekly luncheons to interactive group fitness classes, we aim to help Southlake seniors make life-long memories. If you are a Senior Center member, then you’ve met Recreation Specialist Kat Dye.

Kat joined the Senior Activity Center as a part-time Recreation Specialist in August 2019 and soon became a full-time employee. She graduated from Texas Woman’s University in 2018. Kat likes to be active and enjoys participating in group exercise classes at Champions Club. Her all-time favorite activity, however, is spending time with her adorable six-year-old son. As the face of the Senior Center’s front desk Guest Services, Kat’s responsibility includes selling and renewing memberships, registering senior members for programs, and assisting the Senior Services Coordinator, Soheila Phelps, with program planning and implementation.

Kat is always ready to greet guests with a smile and help seniors make the most of their Senior Center membership. Alongside Soheila Phelps, Kat is part of the dynamic duo that makes the Southlake SAC a special place.

When asked about her favorite aspects of her job, Kat replied, “what I love most about my job is hearing history from our seniors’ unique perspectives and being able to learn from their life experiences. The ability to serve our seniors and help provide a world-class experience for this community is the most fulfilling job I could possibly imagine.”

When asked about a favorite memory at the Senior Center, Kat shared that “I can’t say I have a favorite memory at the Senior Activity Center. Every day that I get to come to work here is a dream come true!”

We are so glad to have Kat at the Southlake Senior Activity Center. Her contributions to our department make up a crucial part of Our Park and Recreation Story.

We love taking the time to tell our stories as we continue to play a role in your own Park and Recreation Story this Park and Recreation Month!

Celebrate Park and Recreation Month this July

The City of Southlake Community Services Department celebrates Park and Recreation Month this July by telling “Our Park and Recreation Story.”

The United States has celebrated July as the nation’s official Park and Recreation Month since 1985. The City of Southlake is proud to follow that tradition. Just this week, Mayor Huffman proclaimed July as Park and Recreation Month in Southlake. This month highlights the vital and powerful role local park and recreation professionals play in building more vibrant, and more resilient communities across the country.

It’s no secret that access to public parks and recreational activities is vital to a healthy and thriving community. In Southlake, we are proud to have more than 1,000 acres of parkland and hundreds of programs and activities for all residents to participate in each year. We strive to be the premier recreation destination for our residents. It’s what keeps us motivated to go to work every day.

When you visit one of our parks, The Marq, or participate in one of our programs, our goal is to create life-long memories for you and your family. Everything we do is for you! When you give us your time, we do everything we can to create a world-class experience for you.

This month we celebrate all the stories that make up our park and recreation history. We honor everything we have accomplished—from the staff who work hard to bring you world-class services, to the amenities and programs our department offers.

Follow our Experience Southlake Facebook Page to see pictures and hear stories about our team. We will also be sharing staff highlights on My Southlake News this month, so stay up-to-date with all our articles as we share Our Park and Recreation Story.

Celebrate Park and Recreation month by exploring a new park, visiting Champions Club, or signing up for one of our world-class programs. There is always something exciting to do in Southlake, and that’s reason enough to celebrate this month and beyond!

July Is Park and Recreation Month!

Southlake Parks and Recreation is inviting the entire community to celebrate “A Lifetime of Discovery” with free family events throughout the month of July.

July is Park and Recreation Month, a national campaign sponsored by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The purpose of this campaign is to inspire everyone to visit their city parks, embrace active lifestyles and improve their overall health. Summer offers the perfect opportunity to create healthy habits for yourself and your children by getting out to a park, trail, playground, swimming pool, natural area or other public space. The City of Southlake offers numerous recreational opportunities to explore, including over 1,200 acres of parkland, the newly renovated Southlake Tennis Center and the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve. These park and recreation opportunities enrich the lives of Southlake residents and provide natural spaces to play and exercise.

This year’s theme is “A Lifetime of Discovery,” encouraging everyone to get out and explore all of the wonderful opportunities their parks and community have to offer! To help celebrate Park and Recreation Month, Southlake Community Services has put together a special calendar of events that you can print or view online. Every day in July, there is a highlighted activity for Southlake residents and visitors to do with their friends and family. Some of these free events include:

Walk and Breakfast with Mayor Hill
Saturday, July 14
North Park
9 a.m.
Kickstart your weekend with a walk around North Park with Mayor Hill followed by a light breakfast provided by the Bill Tait State Farm Agency. All participants will receive a complimentary Under Armour shirt, and the first 30 participants will receive a complimentary LiveFit water bottle!

National Ice Cream Day
Sunday, July 15
Bicentennial Park Playground
1 – 3 p.m.
Stop by Bicentennial Park Playground and celebrate America’s favorite summer treat with free Italian ice from Rita’s!

Wheeling Through Summer Safely
Monday, July 16
Bicentennial Park
8:30 a.m.
Enjoy a morning bike ride, helmet decorating, safety stations and water activities with Southlake officers and firefighters!

Parks Mini Rodeo
Tuesday, July 17
Bicentennial Park Playground
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Kids will have a blast playing interactive games, learning about plants and discovering all of the cool things our Parks team does every day.

National Hot Dog Day
Wednesday, July 18
Bicentennial Park Playground
5 – 7 p.m.
We’ll be giving out free hot dogs, so swing by for a tasty snack while supplies last!

MasterWorks Presents: Escape
Saturday, July 21
Aria Amphitheater
7 – 8:30 p.m.
Join the City of Southlake and Arts Council Northeast for a free outdoor concert by Escape, DFW’s favorite Journey cover band! Blankets, lawn chairs and coolers are welcome at all MasterWorks concerts; no tarps, tents, alcohol or glass, please.

Pups in the Park
Tuesday, July 31
Boo Boo’s Buddies Dog Park
Bob Jones Park
5 – 8 p.m.
Bring your furry friend to Boo Boo’s Buddies Dog Park for all kinds of fun dog activities, including paw prints and a puppy photo booth. Humane Society of North Texas will also be on site with their mobile adoption vehicle accepting donations for the Keller Regional Adoption Center. If you or someone you know is searching for a new companion, be sure to stop by to meet the animals looking for their forever homes! We also invite all of our guests to bring a donation—not only will it help improve the quality of life for the animals in HSNT’s care, but it will also get you entered into a raffle to win awesome prizes like free vaccines, nail clippings, dog treats and more! HSNT is currently in need of the following items:: Purina One Dog and Puppy Food (dry), Purina One Cat and Kitten Food (dry), cat litter, bleach, towels, Pine-Sol and fleece blankets.

Check our calendar for more events and information, and celebrate this month of discovery by sharing your experiences on social media using the hashtag #DiscoverJulySLK. However you decide to celebrate, Southlake Community Services encourages everyone to start talking about the positive impact parks and recreation has on their lives!

If you have any questions, please contact (817) 748-8019 or visit our website at ExperienceSouthlakeTexas.com/DiscoverJuly.