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July is Park and Recreation Month.

In July, we’ve asked some of our very own staff members to share their Parks & Rec Story with the community.

I love what I do because I get to work in parks and nature, and can help play an instrumental role in ensuring that future generations get to enjoy the park district services that I grew up loving.

My Parks & Rec Story

Ian Pickett; Superintendent of Parks & Planning

Why I got into Parks and Rec:

Park districts have always been a major part of my life: I went to preschool at a park district, played youth sports at a park district, went to the park district water parks in the summer, and used park district facilities in the winter. My first real job was at a park district, and now my career is in Parks and Recreation. I grew up in and around park districts, but I wasn’t always aware of what park districts did or what their role was in the community. 

I started working in athletic field maintenance at my local park district in 2005. I spent every summer there all throughout high school and college. I loved working there so much that I even worked weekends after I got a “real” job in sales after college.  However, after being in the “real world” for about two years, I decided the cubicle life wasn’t for me.  I switched career paths and never looked back. I’ve been in the Parks and Rec industry ever since.

So what’s it like to work in Parks and Rec? Well, if you’ve seen the show, it’s a lot like that. Maybe there isn’t quite as much drama.  You get to laugh, enjoy the outdoors, and work in a fun environment. Most importantly, you get to (try to)  make a difference in your community. Whether directly or indirectly, the park district impacts everyone’s lives in some capacity – it could be a bike ride on a trail, having fun on a playground, walking on a cleared sidewalk in the winter, or even throwing your dog p**p in the green garbage can across the street (everyone does it!). By working at a park district, you truly make a difference in your community by providing parks, facilities, activities, programs, and other experiences that have a positive impact on people’s mental and physical health. 

Parks have always been essential, but the pandemic made it clear that if everything in the world shuts down around us, we need to have parks and open spaces to enjoy.  I love what I do because I get to work in parks and nature, and can help play an instrumental role in ensuring that future generations get to enjoy the park district services that I grew up loving.