Hey everyone, thanks for tuning in again! This week I had the opportunity to talk with Melissa Battite (CPRP!), who is the Director at Lexington Recreation and Community Programs in Lexington, Massachusetts. Melissa and I actually met at the NRPA conference in Las Vegas in 2015. We were paired through a networking/mentorship event, and we had a great conversation! When I started this podcast, I knew I would want to circle back and talk to Melissa and ask where she is today.
You can learn more about Melissa on her LinkedIn Profile.
Melissa didn't know she was pursuing a career in parks and recreation when she spent her summers as a "Playground Supervisor." During her first year of college, Melissa took an “Introduction to Recreation” class that sparked her interest in the parks and recreation field. Later in college, she took a tourism class, and finally decided to pursue Parks and Rec as a career after talking with her counselor, Ellen O'Sullivan, Ph.D. After graduation, Ellen referred her to a 1-year term position in Brookline (near Boston, MA), where she ended up staying for over 20 years.
Fun fact for you! Brookline, MA, has an interesting history; it is home to the first indoor swimming pool in America (built in 1883!) and the oldest playground in America (built in 1871!).
Over the course of 23 years, Melissa worked her way up from Front Line Recreation Leader, Recreation Supervisor I, Recreation Supervisor II, and finally as a Assistant Recreation Director. During her time at Brookline, she saw a need for a Therapeutic Recreation Program, so she worked to create one. Listen to her tips for starting your own recreation therapy program in the podcast.
Just a few years ago, a Director position came open in Lexington, MA. She wasn’t sure she wanted to leave the town of Brookline.
"I was very comfortable, I was very challenged, I loved who I worked with… but I thought, if I don’t take this opportunity to just try, I’ll never know." - Melissa Battite
She recently moved to Lexington, MA, where she is now a Director of Recreation & Community Programs. As a director, her roles range from administration, to staff development, to goal setting and so much more. She also makes it a priority to visit local parks and facilities to maintain relationships and show her presence in the community.
Melissa raises the bar by:
- Considering transportation and affordability as critical factors when defining inclusion
- Maintaining an active presence in the community and in her organization by visiting parks and facilities
- Learning (and sharing!) from online resources through active membership of NRPA networks
- Believing that raising the bar for yourself is actually the key to raising the bar in your organization
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- Tips for starting a Therapeutic Recreation Program
- How parks and recreation agencies can partner with mental health organizations, school districts, and local services to achieve incredible goals
- How justifying the need for parks and recreation is actually an opportunity not a burden.
- Lexington Massachusetts Parks and Recreation
- Brookline Massachusetts Parks and Recreation
- NRPA Director School
- State Associations
- NRPA Connect (look here for mentorship opportunities and NRPA networks)