Becky Dunlap

What do you do once you figure out that you want to in parks and Recreation?   This is the question that Deona and I started with in this conversation.  Deona reached out to me as a current student in the parks and recreation field.

I definitely see her as an up-and-coming leader in our field, and I am excited to hear what she has to say!  We talked about how to choose your degree, the right school, the right classes, and then how to get your foot in the door.  She has some really useful tips around volunteering, researching your dream job, and reaching out to other professionals.

 

What happens when you decide that you want to work in parks recreation?

Once I found out that I wanted to have a career in the parks and recreation field, one of the things that helped me along the way was trying to figure out what kinds of jobs there were available.

Then, I looked at what degrees were required to get that job, and what it looked like to move up in the field.  I found that there were many different types of jobs – like aquatic supervisors, park supervisors,  athletic coordinators, park Rangers, park managers and so much more.

I didn’t realize that once you got a recreation degree, that there were all of these amazing and different diverse kinds of careers that you could have.

I also realized that there are many different types of recreation degrees.  Some of them are called environmental education, or leisure studies, or outdoor education.  There’s so many different names for different schools, and it’s just a matter of what kind of job you want to get after school.

 

How do you get started in the field?

The first thing I would suggest is to do your research. Think about that dream job and what kind of degrees you’ll need.  Would it be with a city?  A state?  A county?  A private entity?  National Parks?

Whatever you decide, look towards those places to see how they operate and what kind of experience/education is necessary.

Another helpful tip is to volunteer.  You can commit to whatever your schedule will allow.  So whether it’s once a month or once a week, you can meet people and connect with others.  You also get to see how park systems operate.

You can even see your dream job in action.  Ask someone who has your “dream job” and arrange a meeting with them. What does their daily job look like?  How did they get to their current role?  Most people are always looking to give advice.

I would also recommend getting in touch with associations.  The National Association of Interpretation is such a great association. They help young interpreters prepare for a career.

They have workshops, activities, and they have lots of professionals who can give advice.  Another association is NRPA, and they do similar things.  Every state also has an association – so find one in your region that is active and be involved.

What my you tell someone who’s looking for that dream job but isn’t hearing back after they apply?

Be patient. Parks and recreation is a ladder, you can’t just go to the top without starting at the bottom first.

When you’re trying to apply for a position or become a volunteer, go talk to the people and introduce yourselves to the manager or your potential supervisor. Tell them how happy you are to be applying for this job. Face to face and handshakes go a long way.

You may want to start with a part-time position, or a student worker position, or maybe you are even volunteering.  However, you may not realize what you’re dream job actually is until you start.  It’s okay to get started and then change your mind.

There will be a time where you may have to start as a parks worker, changing trash cans, and that’s okay.  You may not have the best job right now because you are just a student and you are learning.  Looking back, I am very proud that I did those types of jobs.  Someone had to do it, and it didn’t just help the parks – it helps the public enjoy their parks and recreation experience.

What do you think are some of the topics that we should be talking about in our field?

  • Look at what some of the best parks and recreation departments are doing
  • What do their parks look like? What’s different about their programs?
  • What makes the difference between a program that gets 2 people and a program with 20 or 200 people?
  • Talk with people who work in the front-line positions at your parks or recreation centers who talk directly with customers. Understand their point of view and develop relationships with them to hear constant feedback.

Deona is working on an app to help people experience parks in new ways. If you’d like to be involved, or perhaps know someone with the technical expertise to help her, please reach out to her at deonamicheli@gmail.com


About Deona

I am Deona Micheli and I have been in the parks field for 5 years. After volunteering and attending an Environmental Science class in high school that partnered with East Bay Regional I got a job working for East Bay Regional Park District, at Big Break in Oakley CA, as a student worker. This job helped me see that parks and recreation was the field I want a career in.

As I was attending a local community college I looked into 4 year university’s with degrees in parks and recreation. I found Fresno State was the place for me. Shortly after that discovery I relocated to the Fresno area. I am currently a student at Fresno City College and I am working on getting my Associates degree in Recreation Admission before continuing on to Fresno State to get my Bachelors degree in Recreation Admission with an Emphasis on Outdoor adventure. I am currently employed by California Department of Fish and Wildlife as a Scientist aid, working with the Salmonids in the Classroom program.

 

 

 

Related Episodes You May Like:

Future Trends in Recreation Centers with Craig Bouck

Professional Development for Parks and Rec Leaders with Anthony Iracki

Inspiring Pride in Parks and Recreation with Angela Summers

 

Today I have got a great interview for you!  I am talking to Craig Bouck from BRS Associates about future trends in recreation centers, including aquatics, operations, planning, and design. BRS is a planning and design firm that focuses primarily on community and recreation design.  They work around the country to provide bring a lot of these trends we are about to talk about to LIFE.  They like to focus primarily on recreation centers, because they say that this is the one architecture that at some point really touches everybody in the community.

Whether it be education, recreation, or socialization,  recreation centers are a facility that a community would invest in and get a direct benefit their entire lives.  Which is why it is so important to pay attention to the uniqueness of each community. There’s no one design or any one solution that’s going to work for every community.  Nothing is “cookie cutter” anymore.

Top Planning Trend in Parks & Recreation

While it’s hard to say what the most important trend is in recreation is, one of the trends we keep seeing over and over again is the movement away from separate senior centers to multi generation centers. While this isn’t an easy discussion to have, typically seniors aren’t used to seeing their space being shared.  They’re used to having ownership over their facility, so it can be hard to shift directions.

Now, seniors don’t like to even be called that because they are much more active than they used to be.  What they want to do in their retirement age is actually what all generations want to do.  They still want the community spaces, but now they want access to fitness classes, weights, cardio, functional training pieces, and group fitness classes.  We also know that seniors ike warm water aerobics because it is a very therapeutic exercise.

Another thing that is driving the trend “pure economics”, as Craig says.  Often seniors will use the facility in the morning into the afternoon, but will be underutilized at night.  Teen centers may be busy afterschool and into the evening.  But both of these facilities are not fully using their space to its advantage.  Having a multi gen center is a great way to maximize your space and program facilities based on ability.

Top Programming Trend in Recreation Centers

People are recognizing that to get maximum benefit from building these recreation facilities, it needs to serve many purposes for many people.  It’s like a swiss army knife – it can change to serve whatever need is there.  A great example of this is tennis courts.  Since pickleball has come along, the two sports play on the same court.  Multi functional on a simple level.  But using technology, rec centers can be serve in new ways.

There is a technology company called L. U. interactive that has refined a projection system can be cast on to one of these large double height walls in our gymnasium spaces.  The walls become interactive, and kids can throw balls against them. You can interact with them in just by touching them and the net effect is that you create an interactive video game.

Using the previously underutilized space between the safety zone of the basketball court, that’s often become the functional training space.  They’re building multiple stations around the gymnasium where they can attach different sort of functional training apparatus that might be attachment points for things like TRX.

On this point, many of BRS clients often think that the gym would be a fantastic place to hold body fitness classes or aerobics classes, or even yoga, but the challenge with these spaces has always been the acoustics.  Whatever is happening in the adjacent space or maybe in the running track has always interrupted the opportunity to have a successful class.


Well there’s another bit of technology that people are borrowing from the night club industry. They’re bringing it to recreation centers to solve this. It’s called “silent disco” and what that means is that basically in a night club setting you’ll be given a pair of headphones.  When you walk into a nightclub, there might be three or four different DJs playing different genres of music.  These headphones have a button on the side of them where you can select which DJ you want to listen to.  It’s a crazy experience because they’ll be dancing and enjoying it together but you can’t hear anything because everyone has headphones on.

Now fast forward to the fitness industry.  The same opportunity applies. The benefit is that the instructor can be heard clearly, and there can be multiple classes going on at the same time.  There can be multiple different kinds of music or instructions all given out, yet they’re not interrupted at all.  Silent disco technology is a very immersive experience for the people and can help recreation managers better utilize their space.

Top Aquatics Trend in Recreation Centers

Aquatics is one thing that people can do throughout their entire life. They can do it no matter their ability in many respects.  It has many therapeutic benefits, as well as socialization and recreation.  So the question is, how can we maximize participation in the aquatic environments? Specifically, the pools that are what we call flat water pools – which are rectangular pools.  They tend to be the ones that are the most underutilized.  Unless you have  an incredible swim team program with masters swimming, it may be underutilized.

Instead, calling them LIQUID GYMS, we can think of them as places for fitness even if we aren’t a competitive swimmer.  Some ideas are paddleboard yoga, underwater hockey, slacklining across the pool,  American Ninja Warrior, or log rolling.

Top Operations Trend in Recreation Centers

People are no longer really happy always participating in standard activities. Many adults aren’t necessarily comfortable or don’t feel welcome in participating in sports when adults. Instead people are turning to obstacle courses and individualized sports for a different experience.

Private groups out there, like orange theory, and others have recognized this.  By tracking the level of fitness exertion our bodies, they can track the different health metrics and make sure that everyone had an equal fitness experience.

Trends in Using Data Analytics to Make Decisions

The final trend here is around big data in recreation centers.  This is a new endeavor because traditional benchmarking is difficult in the past.  It is important that the information being compared is “apples to apples.”  This is something that is trending and becoming more and more really critical to the planning and operating. We can start to learn what we should expect for expenses on the rec center per square foot, so we can then see what we can expect for staffing costs.

We know that utilities and staffing are probably the most expensive portions of our operating considerations.  The totals center expenses per square foot and the staffing expenses person per square foot remain relatively consistent even if the size of the center increases. That’s important to know;  I think some people thought it would be an exponential differentiation, but we found that there’s a high correlation between the staffing expenses and the square foot of the building. The bigger audience that you have, you have the greater opportunity for revenues and cost recovery. There’s a threshold there and that’s worth understanding.

Should general fitness classes included in the price of admission or should they be offered as a separate cost? How does that affect overall cost recovery? We get that question all the time. What we found is that centers that offer the general fitness classes as part of the price of admission seem to have an equal or higher cost recovery then centers that don’t.


About Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture

Designing great places for communities has been the driving passion of Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture since its early beginnings more than 43 years ago. With six principals and a total firm of 40, and offices in Denver and Dallas, our mission and commitment are the same today as they were then. By putting the client’s needs first and remaining true to architectural excellence, we have been at the forefront of innovative design. We have assisted more than 250 organizations across the country in the strategic planning, master planning, programming and design of community facilities.

Recreation centers, active adult centers, athletic complexes, libraries, city halls, cultural and performing arts centers, office buildings, visitor facilities and chapels round out the collection of projects we design. The thread that runs through them all is our commitment to an interactive process that includes our clients in the design and development of their project.

Decision makers must often navigate through a minefield of stakeholder groups and agency review, trying to balance the needs of all. We help facilitate “best-value” decisions unique to each organization. How do we do it? We wear many hats. We’re artists and analysts, mapmakers and MacGyvers, sages and band leaders, shepherds and scouts. We encourage potential clients to contact past and current clients to learn the value of a BRS-led project.

BRS design buildings and places that bring people together. We get our inspiration from the communities and clients with whom we work. We’d love to work with you.

Craig is the CEO of Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture. An extremely talented and creative designer, he has a quick intellect and discerning eye. He brings his expertise to all aspects of the practice, from project management to graphic design. Craig is a frequent speaker and author in the recreation, active aging and aquatic facility design industry.

Related Posts:

Hello everyone and welcome back! Today I am talking to Pat O’toole, who is a Principal with GreenPlay. I had the pleasure of speaking with him while we were traveling in Arizona for a recent project.  He’s got a wealth of experience so I encourage you to go to GreenPlay LLC to check out his resume.

One of the phrases that Pat often says is, “Trust Me Now, Judge Me Later.” So that is the first question I ask him here. I find it fascinating is that he was a parks and recreation director by age twenty one for a small municipality.  That experience allowed him to step up to the plate and come up with some really innovative and creative solutions.

I encourage you guys to listen closely to this one.  Pat is a great storyteller and he gives some really specific advice through his stories that I think you’re really going to enjoy.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  1. How to step up to the plate when you are a young director and have a lot of responsibility – but limited experience.
  2. How to get things done despite limitations, especially around rules and policies. I’m always curious how can use policies to your advantage. What are some of those limited constraints that actually can propel you forward? I think a lot of time to use those policies as an excuse. In these examples, you’ll see how Pat uses creativity to get things done.
  3. I ask him: “what would you say to agencies who say that the lack of funding is currently holding them back?”
  4. This phrase: “Trust me now, judge me later.” I ask him where this comes from in the very first question of this podcast, but I think is that this phrase shows but he’s willing to let his actions speak more than his words.  If you say that you will get it done, then you put in the work to get it done. That’s what should matter.   A lot of times this can give you the leverage that you need to take chances in your organization.

Favorite Moments from the Interview

Q: What’s the story behind “Trust me now, Judge me Later? 

A: “Well, there’s many stories. My way of thinking was just because we were parks and recreation, we didn’t have to be second rate to anybody else.  When I went into an interview,  I was confident enough that I just said, you know what, you’re hired me to do a job and I’ll come here if you let me do the job.  I have no interest in being another government worker.   When my supervisors thought I was getting into risky situations, I used this phrase: “trust me now, judge me later.” If I can’t pull off, just fire me. There’s nothing that motivates me more than somebody saying, “No, I don’t think you can do it,” so that just told me that I needed to pull it off.

 

Q: In your early twenties you became a director at age twenty-one. So how did you come into that role at age twenty, and what was your approach?

A: First of all, this was for a small town – that was part of the reason.   I went to the state park and rec conference when I was unemployed.  I had worked summers in parks and recreation and agencies before, but there was a job listing at the conference who were doing interviews.  So I signed up to do an interview for this small town.  They wanted someone with five-years’ experience, which I didn’t have.

I signed up anyways, and found out later that the reason why they interviewed me was they could not figure out realize why I applied even though I wasn’t qualified.  I answered the questions realistically.  They wanted to know how long I was planning on working there – and everyone had said that that wanted to retire there,” but I was honest and said 3-5 years.  I told them it was just going to be a stepping stone.  They said, you know what every three to five years we will want to hire a new director anyway.

 

Q: What do you think raises the bar in the field of parks and recreation? 

A: One thing I learned at an young age, that number one, people will pay for value. To raise that bar, don’t lower your standards because your government you doesn’t need to. Do what you can to be the best you can be. Raising the bar is being a calculated risk taker so that you can be you can set the standards.  Have high energy, keep your best staff, and I think those of the agencies that we see rising to the top and getting the gold medal awards. It’s sometimes not about being a yes person. Being a risk taker is challenging the system. If something shouldn’t take two weeks, why do you allow it to take two weeks?

About Pat O’Toole

Pat brings over 25 years of management planning for parks and recreation agencies and has been leading projects for GreenPlay since 2003. Prior to joining GreenPlay, Pat was President of OATS LLC, a private consulting firm. Before that he worked for many years as a Principal for another parks planning firm, and he was previously a director and assistant director for several agencies in four different states.

Pat has extensive expertise in budgeting, operational pro-formas, cost recovery and activity-based costing, efficiencies, public process, and all other facets of leading agencies. He is skilled at leading forward focused projects and teams, specifically related to creating vision and implementation.

Related Posts You Might Enjoy: 

Ep. 11: Starting a Parks and Recreation Department from Scratch

Professional Development for Parks & Rec Leaders with Anthony Iracki

Inspiring Pride in Parks & Recreation

Hey Everyone,  Thank you so much for attending this session.  Here are the slides!

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Staying Relevant in Parks and Recreation is no easy task.  Technology is moving at a rapid pace.  Trends seem to change daily.  What, then, does it mean for agencies to stay relevant? How do we decide when to compete, collaborate, or step back?  In this episode, I talk to Chris Nunes from the Woodlands Township to hear his perspective on what it means to stay relevant in today’s world!

Keys to Staying Relevant in Parks and Recreation:

One of the most important things I took away from this episode is to take the perspective of the customer.  Everyday, act as if you are viewing and experiencing your facilities for the first time.  Understand how perception is reality.

Another important takeaway is how agencies can respond to the on-demand culture.  There seems to be an expectation for parks and recreation to be everything to everyone.  We know, however, that this is just not possible.  There may be other non-profits or businesses that can actually provide services much better than we can.

If parks and recreation agencies can focus on their strengths, and provide services based on what they are really good at, then the can be more efficient.  Partnering with other organizations is a great way to offer the programs in your community, but without expending the resources to do so.

“Raising the bar means to push recreation to where it has never gone before.” – Chris Nunes

About Chris Nunes (Director of Parks and Recreation)

Chris Nunes, CPRE is the Director of Parks and Recreation for The Woodlands Township, in The Woodlands, Texas.  In that position, a $22 million operational budget,  a $4-5 million  yearly capital improvement program and is accountable for the management of 140 parks, 15 swimming pools and aquatic facilities, 220 miles of pathways, and 200 miles of streetscape.

He speaks around the country (over 300+ times) on topics including: business plans, contracting, creative programming, marketing, external funding, communication, leadership and succession planning.  In 2012, Chris was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Parks and Recreation Administrators and in 2015 he received theChris Nunes - Staying Relevant in Parks and Recreation National Distinguished Professional Award from NRPA and in 2016-2017 he is the President of the American Academy of Parks and Recreation Administrators.

Chris holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Recreation Management and a Masters Degree in Sports Management from Springfield College in Massachusetts and a Doctorate in Parks and Recreation Administration from the University of New Mexico.

I hope that this episode helps you and your agency learn how to you can stay relevant in the parks and recreation field.

Other Parks and Recreation Episodes You May Enjoy:

It is so important to celebrate milestones.  Small or big, all wins all matter. Celebrating means that you’ve reached some sort of milestone.  Maybe you set a goal at the beginning of the year, and you’ve finally reached it.  Celebrate it!  Maybe your employee went above and beyond, celebrate it!  Or if you’re like the Menifee California, maybe you’re coming up on a milestone of being incorporated for 10 years, definitely celebrate it.

When you appreciate the milestones in your agency and in your life, you tell the world how important your goals are.  That in turn, makes you and your team more motivated to keep establishing new goals and working even harder to make them happen.   Listen to this episode as we talk to Jason Hendrix from the City of Menifee to talk about how this team of dedicated professionals is celebrating 10 years.  Their event ideas, planning preparation, and energy will make you think what YOU can celebrate next.

“Raising the bar means making sure that you’ve made someone’s life better.” – Jason Hendrix, City of Menifee CA

Jason Hendrix is a local government professional with 15 years of government experience and is currently a Community Services Supervisor with the City of Menifee. Jason is extremely passionate about the Parks & Recreation industry and has coordinated or supervised numerous program areas including: youth sports, special events, after school programs and now also supervises the Park Ranger Program and Homeless Task Force.

Jason holds an AA from the University of Phoenix and holds several Park & Rec certifications including being a certified trainer of trainers for California School Age Consortium, and a certified youth and adult sports official. Jason has served as Vice President on the California Parks & Recreation District 11 board and has held the office of President of the Southern California Municipal Athletic Federation on two separate occasions.  In his spare time, Jason can be found cheering on his beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish, recording his ‘Dos Leprechauns’ podcast with his son, or training for 5k’s. Jason lives in Riverside with his wife

Elizabeth who works with special needs students, his two children whom he adores; Nathan and Alyssa, and his dogs Rocky and Bagheera.

 

Today I talked to Art Thatcher, who is a Principle with GreenPlay.  I love his perspective on the trends of parks recreation and the way that it’s going.   Art talks about the ways in which millennials are shifting the workplaces of parks and recreation agencies.  We also talk about how our communities are shifting from registered programs to drop-in recreation opportunities.  Those “meet-up” type of programs allow busy individuals the ability to participate when its convenient for them.  Social Media is a whole new outlet for parks and recreation, and it allows those drop-in type of programs to thrive.

In This episode, we talk about:

  • Entrepreneurship of millennials in our field and beyond
  • The specialization of parks and rec career paths
  • The changing on-demand nature of programs
  • How social media and connectivity will impact our field
  • The need for flexible schedules and workplaces.

Art is a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional with 30 years of experience in public parks and recreation operations, programming and administration, volunteer board leadership, facility design and operations, and community engagement.

Throughout his career, Art has concentrated on strategic and master planning, youth civic engagement and teen comprehensive planning, operations and facility management planning, outdoor adventure recreation development and programming, and community engagement facilitation.

Art also has extensive experience working with local, state and national legislators as a subject matter expert and an advocate for the profession. He is the 2014 President and Chair of the Board of the Virginia Recreation and Parks Society.

He was recently recognized for his dedication and contributions to the profession and received the VRPS President’s Award in 2012 and the VRPS Distinguished Service Award in 2013.

A LOT is changing in the world of parks and recreation. I had the privledge of sitting down with Arthur Thatcher with GreenPlay LLC to talk about the ways the young professionals are changing the face of recreation.

Katy is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina and received her degree in Recreation & Park Management from Appalachian State University in 2011. Following graduation, Katy worked as a Recreation Specialist for Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation. In March 2015, she was hired by the Town of Indian Trail Parks & Recreation where her main responsibilities include marketing, programming and park projects. Katy is also the East Central Regional rep for the NRPA’s YPN State Associations Committee and is active in the NCRPA YPN with Student Outreach. Outside of work Katy enjoys spending time with her husband and keeping up with her two toddlers.

Katy is Raising the Bar:

  • By showing up online and offline in so many different professional networks.  She gives VALUE.
  • By understanding her own habits and implementing strategies that would catch her own attention on social media.
  • By empathizing with her audience so that they can relate to their agency
  • By implementing systems to implement creative ideas from staff

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Strategies to get your audience to tag their friends and engage with your office
  • How creating a REACTION in people will help them stop and pay attention.
  • How one of Indian Trail’s event promotion on Facebook reached 1,000,000 people!
  • Why Awesome PRIZES will promote engagement and inspire people to share your post.
  • How to successfully and strategically plan out social media content without burning out

Additional Links:

Ok!  So now that you’ve new creative strategies for marketing your programs and services, how do you feel?  Let me know in the comments with a GIF!

As parks and recreation professionals, we rely on a mix of traditional and modern marketing methods to promote our services. While online marketing and social media certainly have its advantages, in-person marketing tactics such as vehicle graphics can ultimately make thousands of impressions on your target audience.  In this guide, we will explore everything that you need to know before deciding on vehicle graphics.

Wait. Who the heck am I to talk about car wraps? I’m a parks and recreation nerd, and that’s what I know. BUT, my amazing hubby is a vehicle and graphics expert and has 10+ years in the industry. So I sat down with him for a few hours and asked him ALL the questions. We then worked together to create 5 pre-made vehicle graphics that you can actually buy and send to your sign shop for printing/install.  But before we get to all of that, let’s talk about what you will need to know.

I’m passionate about parks and recreation making an impact BUT we can only do that if our communities become AWARE of the services we offer. If we can start to make more of an impression – and make our neighbors talk about what we do – then maybe our programs and parks will get more attention.

In this guide, we will talk about: 

  • Do’s and Don’ts of Vehicle Graphics
  • Designing for Vehicle Graphics
  • Types of Printed Vehicle Graphics  
  • File Types for Printing
  • Materials for Vehicle Wraps
  • Lifespan of Vehicle Wraps
  • Cost of Vehicle Graphics 
  • Finding an Installer

 

 

Do’s & Don’ts of Vehicle Graphics

Don’t:

  • Try to design vehicle graphics yourself
  • Use a raster or pixelated images
  • Don’t try to install it yourself
  • Don’t expect the process to take overnight
  • Don’t use RGB Colors

Do: 

  • Hire a designer (or use print ready graphics) that you trust
  • Use high quality vector images
  • Do hire a preferred wrap installer
  • Allow yourself about a month to complete the process
  • Use CMYK Colors

Designing for Vehicle Graphics

Unless you have done it before, chances are you should hire someone to create vehicle graphics for you.  Your local sign shop is a great start, but they may not have the expertise either.  There are nationwide companies that can design vehicle graphics, but already be sure to check their reviews and their portfolio.  My husband created a few designs that can be customized to your vehicle and sent to the a local printer.  Chances are, by calling around to local and regional sign companies, someone will be able to help you design vehicle graphics that suite your needs.

The design itself should be eye-catching.  Anyone should be able to guess that your vehicle represents what you are all about.  While you can choose to showcase the many amenities you have (say combining parks, pools, and a fitness center, you may be better off choosing one park, or one facility to showcase.  Fun slogans such as “Follow me to the park” or “Let’s take a hike” may attract additional attention.  Good practice is to always include your organization’s name, phone number, website, and even social media icons.  This gives passerby’s a call-to-action: go find us on social media.  

Types of Vehicle Graphics 

There are three main types of vehicle graphics.  The way in which they are printed, cut, and applied differ.  They also have pros and cons based on their affordability, ease of install, and longevity.  Here is a basic overview: 
 

RTA Cut Graphics – RTA stands for “Ready to Apply.”  These graphics cut out of single color vinyl, and are usually applied to get a message across without using any printed material. This type of vehicle graphics are going to be the cheapest, but do not provide the “POP” or “WOW Factor” that printed graphics do.

Partial Wrap – Partial Wraps are the best of both worlds. These graphics could cover anywhere from 25-75% of your vehicle. We like these wraps because they do not cover as much surface, which means over the long life-span of your wrap, it will have less places to fail or peel. [We’ll talk more about the lifespan of a vehicle wrap below].This is the middle ground as far as cost goes.

Full Wrap – Full wraps are also printed on Warranted Materials, and can be designed to fit your specific needs. However, these wraps cover 100% of your vehicle. These wraps can be beneficial if your car body has seen better days, or the design you like does not blend in well with the original paint color.

File Types for Printing 

For any kind of printed signage including vehicle graphics you will want to use vector files the majority of the time. This will allow you to “Stretch” or “Shrink” the image as large or as small as you want without distorting the image.  

Additional Resources: 

File Format Overview

Vector vs Raster?  What’s the Difference?

CMYK or Spot Color?  What should you use?

Materials for Vehicle Graphics

How do you know if your sign shop is using proper materials?
Like everything else, if you shop around and find that a shop is significantly lower than most other places you have gotten a quote it may be too good to be true. There are shops out there who try to push high quantity low quality low price vehicle graphics. If you are looking for something that is temporary and only need to last less than a year, this may be a good option. Otherwise, specify with your shop that they are using high quality vinyls such as 3M or Avery Car Wrap Specific Vin.

Lifespan of Vehicle Graphics

The answer to this question starts with making sure your Sign Shop is using good quality Material. If they are using a good outdoor UV Protected wrap vinyl, you can expect to have your Vehicle Graphics for 4 up to 7 years!  Companies such as 3M also offer warranties on their products which vary on longevity.  If working with a less quality product, the graphics may peel or fade within a few years.  Keep in mind that local climate also impacts the wraps.  Parking your vehicle in a covered lot and taking care of your vehicle will extend the life of the graphics.  

Cost of Vehicle Graphics

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Vehicle Graphics prices vary for many different reasons such as, how large your vehicle is, how much of your vehicle you plan on covering (partial or full), and where you are located in the country. A ballpark estimate of a fully printed, and installed wrap is somewhere around $8-$13/Sqft.  

Finding an Installer 

  • Search your area. <– Using this link
  • Choose the “Preferred Installer” Badge. 
  • Review list of provided installers, and check Facebook, or other online 
reviews.

What about the installation process?

Provide at least one week notice when scheduling your installation. Expect for Installation to be done in a climate controlled facility. Expect your vehicle to be out of service for 1-2 days. Provide Design Draft of your Vehicle for quote and day of installation. Have your vehicle washed 24 Hrs before your installation.

Why should you use a preferred installer?

  • Trained and tested on various installation types and materials.
  • Installers are required to carry liability insurance
  • Business Practices regulated to maintain certification
  • Specialize in providing installation services not “an everything” shop

Conclusion


I hope that this guide has been helpful for you! There are many topics to cover within vehicle graphics, but I tried to compile only answers that were relevant for parks and recreation professionals. Did this help? What other questions do you have?

My husband put together some awesome vehicle graphic designs below that you can download and send to your local sign shop.  Send him an email at srdunlap08@gmail.com if you are interested and I’ll pass the info onto him!

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I had the pleasure to interview Keri Konold on the podcast this week to talk about public engagement in relation to conservation and recreation.  It can be difficult to achieve a balance between conservation and recreation; they seem like opposing sides, and yet one in the same.  Keri talks about using the SHIFT principles to reframe the conversation to make progress.  We also dive into her philosophy behind public engagement and some of the ways she has found success when talking to communities, large or small.  Keri is currently the Community Relations Officer at City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, in addition to being a Project Consultant for GreenPlay, LLC.

Keri is raising the bar by:

  • redefining “public engagement” to actually just mean real conversations
  • always having her goals and objectives top of mind before diving into strategy.
  • changing the conversation because promote conservation and recreation can thrive simultaneously
“I encourage professionals to not be daunted by public engagement, but rather embrace it… so our communities whom we serve can go out and have experiences that they value.” – Keri Konold

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • how a culture of collaboration can help create a shared language about conservation on pubic and private land
  • Why developing personal relationships pays off dividends in the end when getting things done
  • If anyone has a stake in the game – as in–> they value something you do, then value their opinion.
“If you know your objective up front, then you can determine the strategy for getting there.”

Additional Resources:

“SHIFT (Shaping How we Invest For Tomorrow) is a program of The Center for Jackson Hole. The 2018 SHIFT Festival will explore the health benefits of time outside: how outdoor recreation on our public lands creates a healthier citizenry, attracts new customers to the outdoor industry, promotes stewardship and advances quality of life in communities across America.”

“IAP2 is an international association of members who seek to promote and improve the practice of public participation / public engagement in relation to individuals, governments, institutions, and other entities that affect the public interest in nations throughout the world. Our mission is to advance and extend the practice of public participation through professional development, certification, standards of practice, core values, advocacy and key initiatives with strategic partners around the world.”