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Education Sessions

Offsites & Add-Ons

The 2020 mParks Conference & Trade Show will feature more than 100 educational sessions over the course of an exciting four days.

Below is an alphabetical listing of confirmed educational sessions each day.

Click here for an At-A-Glance view.





Educational Sessions (as of 11/19/19)

This schedule is tentative and subject to change. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A Deeper Look at Implicit Bias & Microaggressions (.2 CEU)

It is essential to look at our mindset and our behaviors to build a diverse and inclusive environment that respects and values differences.   When we understand how biases influence our behavior, we act to create an inclusive culture – one where everyone can contribute, innovate, and provide solutions that customers value.  In this session we will define implicit bias and microaggression in the workplace.  We will look at how verbal and non-verbal communication informs how we engage each other and the intentional or unintentional outcomes.  This session is interactive including several exercises.

Freda Sampson - Consultant, Michigan Roundtable for Diversity & Inclusion


Building a Butterfly House: From Start to Place (.1 CEU)

Join us as we take step by step trip through the process of creating the For-Mar Butterfly House and how it turned form an educational garden into a “PLACE”. This interactive presentation will discuss how you can; create your own butterfly house, make real life educational connections to schools and community groups, make connections to Citizen Science Project and transform your spaces into Places your community will want to visit.   We will highlight possible funding sources and allow time for you to ask questions and get answers on you can support your local pollinators and draw visitors into your park.

Nicole Ferguson - Park Naturalist, Genesee County Parks
Courtney Prout - Environmental Education Outreach Coordinator, Genesee County ParkBrian VanPatten - Horticulturist, Genesee County Parks


Camping in Detroit: Creating an Urban Camping Collaborative (.1 CEU)

Learn how a public-private partnership in Detroit is allowing youth to spend a night under the stars without ever having to leave the city! Detroit Outdoors is a collaboration between the Sierra Club, Detroit Parks and Recreation and the YMCA of Metro Detroit that supports youth-serving organizations to integrate camping into their existing programming by providing leadership trainings, a fully-stocked gear library and a campground within city limits. We want to share our challenges, surprises and successes in starting up and running and urban campground in hopes to encourage other areas to adopt similar models.

Jac Kyle - Naturalist, Detroit Parks & Recreation

Garrett Dempsey - Program Director, Sierra Club - Detroit Outdoors

Natalie Ramos - Program Manager, YMCA Metro Detroit

Emerging Leaders Playbook (.2 CEU)

In order to lead others, you must be able to lead yourself.  The best leaders possess a clear understanding of self, it’s their foundation, it’s their authentic and strong leadership identity.  They understand their personal values, strengths, and what drives them to do their best work. This presentation will provide opportunities for attendees to (re)discover their values, write their User Manual, assess their executive presence and understand the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership.

Lisa Shea - Associate Director, University of Michigan Rec Sports

PREMIER MEMBER SESSION Ending Abuse Within Sport: How the U.S. Center for SafeSport is Championing Athlete Well-Being (.2 CEU)

This session, reserved for mParks Premier Members, will provide an overview of the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s unique role and function when it comes to abuse prevention in sport. Steps to create safe environments and how to minimize high-risk abuse situations will be discussed. Your role as a mandatory reporter is of utmost importance and the specifics of your duty will be provided. Finally, our data-driven prevention strategies will be shared to highlight how the Center is committed to provide training and best practice policies to all those involved in sport.

Dan Mills - Training & Technical Assistance Manager, U.S. Center for Safe Sport

Eric Barreras - Training & Technical Assistance Manager, U.S. Center for Safe Sport


Get Greener (.1 CEU)

Learn hacks to make your events and programs more sustainable. In addition to tips and tricks we'll even delve into some of our most favorite fails so you can learn from our mistakes. Bring your own experiences to share and get feedback!

Hannah Fogarty - Recreation Specialist, City of Farmington Hills

Ashlie Smith - Nature Center Supervisor and Naturalist, City of Farmington Hills


Get Your Bloom On! Implementing a Beautification Program in Your City (.1 CEU)

Beautification of a community is not a program that many communities offer, yet its benefits far outweigh its costs. Join Marcie Post from Midland Parks and Recreation and Sheila Stamiris from the City of Frankenmuth to hear from their communities on best practices for beautification programs and ways you can implement a four-season beautification program in your City. Also learn more about beautification award programs such as America in Bloom, Keep Michigan Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful that may benefit your City. It’s easy to Get Your Bloom On!

Marcella Post - Recreation Manager, Midland Parks & Recreation

Sheila Stamiris - DDA Director, City of Frankenmuth


Healthy Parks, Healthy Residents: How Environmental Advocacy Can Ensure Both? (.1 CEU)

Parks are a popular multigenerational location for physical activity and community gatherings.  Multiple factors including the location and accessibility of parks are top reasons individuals will visit parks.  However, the physical environment (e.g., air pollution, water quality, appearance of the park) can make the ultimate difference why individuals will visit a park.  Advocacy for improvements to the physical environment should be a joint effort of residents and park professionals. 

Myra Tetteh - Community Advocate, Detroit Greenways Coalition


High Water Issues, Do You Know What to Do Now? (.1 CEU)

Attendees will hear testimonial from organizations dealing with high water issues that include erosion, marinas, campgrounds and shorelines. The session will include presenters from EGLE, DNR and Municipal staff who have dealt with revetment or are in the process of evaluating properties. Attendees will also learn what constitutes different levels of permitting if needed.

Kendall Klingelsmith - Petoskey Parks and Recreation Director, City of Petoskey

Ron Olson - Chief, Parks and Recreation Division, Michigan Department of Natural Resources


Matter of Balance Crash Course (.1 CEU)

This session will provide an informational on how the Matter of Balance 8-series course works and it's benefit to having it in the Parks and Recreation Programing for the aging community members. Matter of Balance is a 8-series course for the aging population that helps to address the fear of falls, promotes reconstructive thinking, uses education, group discussions, and exercises to promote fall prevention. The exercises target on balance, strength, flexibility and balance. Each class has to be instructed by 2 certified coaches, which we will provide dates for upcoming training sessions so that the Directors can choose to have 2 members of their team trained to teach these 8 week sessions in your community. Matter of balance is an evidence base program and is proven to help the aging population remain in their homes and most importantly, stay active.

Regina Mallett - Marketing & Sales Coordinator, Lourdes Senior Community

Anita Barksdale - Injury Prevention, Community Education, and Outreach Coordinator St. Joseph Mercy Oakland


ONE Thing to Know Before Becoming a Manager (.1 CEU)

How many of you received comprehensive management training when you became a supervisor? How many of you have a hard time agreeing with or getting along with your supervisor? You are not alone. It is well-known that PEOPLE are the most challenging part of management. In this session, you will discover ONE thing you need to know BEST when becoming a manager. And it may surprise YOU! Participants will learn management concepts through interactive discussion, case studies, and take-home resources for becoming a more effective manager.

Sally Pelto-Wheeler - Owner, Collaborative Training Network LLC


Parks and Recreation, WE MATTER! (.2 CEU)

This session will provide a unique interactive experience to find or refresh the attendee's passion and appreciation for what it means to be a Parks and Recreation professional. Presenters will lead discussions, group think exercises and provide anecdotal evidence that being in the field of Parks and Recreation is truly one of the most diverse and rewarding career choices available in our country today. Attendees will learn tips for how to gain relevance in their community, develop their "story" to illustrate their impact to their department as well as to their citizens and users. The session is packed with motivation, excitement, real talk, enthusiasm and most of all PASSION.

Adam Blackmore - Recreation Superintendent, City of Henderson Parks and Recreation

Katie Groke - Director of Marketing, Communications and Community Outreach, Apex Park and Recreation District


Planning a Nature Play Area in Your Park (.1 CEU)

Research shows that the most common influence on an adult’s conservation values comes from unstructured, frequent childhood play in natural settings. These values are lost or forgotten through urbanization, parental fears, overscheduling, technology replacing play, and liability concerns. Studies show that unstructured play with opportunities for calculated risk are the most beneficial. Nature Play Areas are cheaper than playgrounds and provide better opportunities for cooperative play spanning multiple age groups. Learn how to find funding through community partnerships and healthy initiatives, and access Nature Play Area guidelines created through a partnership of the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Learning Initiative.

Katie McGlashen - Park Interpreter, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Ashlie Smith - Nature Center Supervisor, Farmington Hills Nature Center


Power Mapping: Impact Your Community Now! (.1 CEU)

Learn how to impactfully connect to community leaders, influencers, and all levels of your workplace. Participants will use a power mapping tool to help create connections that guide advocacy through relationship development and how these relationships can yield positive short and long-term results for their operations and professional development.

Adam Blackmore - Recreation Superintendent, City of Henderson Parks and Recreation

Katie Groke - Director of Marketing, Communications and Community Outreach, Apex Park and Recreation District


Rate and Map Your Trails with Technology! (.1 CEU)

We will present a unique project utilizing the system used by all 83 counties in Michigan to rate the surface condition of roads to rate trails. The PASER (pavement and surface evaluation rating) system rates the surface condition on a scale of 1-10. PASER was developed by Michigan Tech University and has been used by MDOT for almost two decades to rate roads. In May 2019 St. Clair County decided to use their training and experience with the PASER system to create a pilot project to rate over 104 miles of trails. We needed a snapshot of the condition of the trails for future planning and maintenance.

Linda Wallace - Senior Planner/Transportation, St. Clair County Metropolitan Planning Commission

Lori Eschenburg - Associate Planner/GIS, St. Clair County Metropolitan Planning Commission


KEYNOTE ADDRESS Slay the Demanding Dragons: How to Wow, Woo, & Win over Hard to Please People (.1 CEU)

As a career professional, you work with many different types of stakeholders. Some can be delightful and even a dream to work with, making your job that much more enjoyable. On the flip side, there are some difficult stakeholders the ones that make you cringe when their name displays on your called ID as you prepare to listen to their outrageous specifications and odd requests. You can sense when things begin to go south with their short-snippy remarks, power poses, heavy sighs, and furrowed brows. It’s evident as the person becomes increasingly frustrated. Even though this can drain your energy and become more difficult to work though, you know you have a job to do, and it’s better to keep the relationship with your colleague even if you want to kick them to the curb. You still have a job to get done, right?  So, how can you keep your difficult stakeholders and maintain your sanity?

Mimi Brown - Speaker, AMP Up Success!


Strategies for Wintertime Park Design and Activation (.1 CEU)

Winter can be a tough time for parks. Most parks are designed for sunny summer days, with nice lawns and splash pads and picnic areas. Designing parks for the wintertime is a unique challenge, and one that is not often considered during the design process. And promoting wintertime park use is more than just a missed opportunity, it is a real public health benefit during those sedentary months. From skiing and sledding to more inventive wintertime park uses, this session will look at unique ideas from around the world for designing and activating parks during the winter months.

Wes Michaels - Principal, Spackman Mossop Michaels


Stress Less: Achieving Greater Work-Life Balance (.1 CEU)

Have you ever told yourself, “Just one foot in front of the other…?”  Stressed out.  Exhausted.  Always hustling.  Well, no more!  Make a change!  Join Jill Almasi-Dole, as she shares five key practices that she uses for a more balanced life.  Focused.  Intentional.  Peaceful.  Always (or almost always…). It’s easier than you think!

Jill Almasi-Dole - Instructor, Central Michigan University


Teambuilding Around the World (.2 CEU)

Teambuilding Guru Dr. Jim Cain shares his favorite, newest and best team and community building activities from around the world.  4-6 hours in length (your choice)

Jim Cain, Ph.D. - Teamwork & Teamplay


Theft Identity and Internet Scam (.1 CEU)

This session will provide the framework of how this topic can be presented within their community from trained prosecutors from the Oakland County Prosecutor's office. This topic can be tailored for all ages and the attorney will be interactive, as much as an attorney can, so that the audience is able to see the possibilities.

Paul Walton - Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor, Oakland County Prosecutor's Office


Trauma Informed Care - What to Know (.2 CEU)

This session will provide professionals with some basic working knowledge pertaining to Trauma and its impact in various professional settings. Professionals will learn about some of the common signs and symptoms associated with trauma and be introduced to some basic strategies and techniques associated with anxiety reduction.  Ideal for professionals overseeing programs that provide direct care for minors and at-risk individuals, like after-school programs, teen centers, day camps, and Therapeutic Recreation programs.

Brian Spitsbergen PhD, PLLC

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Add Nature to Day Camp! (.1 CEU)

Learn about quick and easy nature activities that you can add to day camp. There are hundreds of nature activities available for all ages that require little to no supplies and are easy to do even in an urban setting. Use the nature resources all around you to encourage kids to connect to the outdoors!

Lynn Dominguez - Professor, Central Michigan University


Age Friendly Communities (.1 CEU)

There is an unprecedented change happening to the demographics in America. 10,000 people turn 65 every day.  New reports show that Michigan is aging faster than just about all other states.  This workshop will explore what this changing demographic means to communities, organizations in communities and any other entity that provides programming or services within the community.

Karen Kafantaris - Associate State Director, AARP


All Ages, All Abilities, All the Time (.1 CEU)

Parks today face the challenge of providing environments where all visitors can feel safe, secure and fully engaged.  Universal design increases usability, safety, health and social participation. Participants will discover how applying the principles of universal design ultimately contribute to social equity and social sustainability. This presentation illustrates how Universal Design contributes to park and recreation spaces that empower diverse populations, contribute to health and wellness, increase social capital and delivers positive economic impact. Participants will be provided with information on the principles of Universal Design and how this looks in park and recreation spaces based on real life projects.

Jill Moore - Marketing Specialist, Landscape Structures

John McConkey - Market Insights Manager, Landscape Structures


Becoming a Better Facilitator (.1 CEU)

Dr. Jim Cain is the author of 16 team and community building texts, including the classic Teamwork & Teamplay, A Teachable Moment, Find Something To Do! and his latest book, 100 Activities that Build Unity, Community & Connection. He is also the creator of the innovative T&T Training Cards.  Dr. Jim Cain shares 40 of his favorite ways to become a better facilitator.

Jim Cain, Ph.D. - Teamwork & Teamplay


Developing a Transformative & Multi-Purpose Park (.1 CEU)

As the recreation needs of communities rise and budgets continue to decline, it is essential that our parks to adapt to help close the gap.  Park programming, municipal relationships and adjustments during construction play vital roles in this process. The Jackson County Parks & Recreation Department transformed their 100+ year old Fairgrounds into Keeley Park, a multi-use, year-round amenity. With minimal updates over the past 50 years and lack of usage, it was time for a change. We’ll explore how this transformation took place and how the process of asking the right questions led to a park for the whole community. How can you change a multi-generational mindset of a park? How can you successfully make major improvements to a community institution? How can you reimage a new park to be used year round and still accommodate a major event? Join our presentation to explore these questions and learn more about unique programming ideas, local municipal and state cooperation/coordination and unforeseen construction issues that led to a better park!

Mark Woodhurst - Landscape Architect, SmithGroup

Jeff Hovarter - Former Parks Director, Jackson County, Jackson County Parks and Recreation

Kyle Lewis - Interim Parks Director, Jackson County, Jackson County Parks and Recreation


Don't Just Talk, Communicate! (.1 CEU)

Have you noticed? People often see things differently than you. We communicate in our own way—our style. There’s no right or wrong. Our philosopher, Popeye, always said, "I 'yam what I 'yam!" Discover how to be more flexible with others. People will be more likely to hear you; you'll be more likely to get results you want.

Jan McLaughlin - Jan McLaughlin, Your Communication Connection


Don't Let the Project Manage You! (.1 CEU)

This session will go over the basics of project management and offer some unique techniques, tips and tricks to ensure that projects of all sizes are a success.

Eric Sheffer - President, Penchura, L.L.C.


Don't Overreact, but Don't Underreact (.1 CEU)

Don't Overreact, But Don't Underreact: Build Resiliency for Better Outcomes!

Sometimes work – or even life in general – can feel like a solid left hook to the jaw. Resiliency is critical for managing through stressful times and recovering from setbacks, and it is a key indicator of successful individuals both at work and at home.  This workshop teaches specific strategies for building resiliency to help you stay anchored when the going gets rough.

Nicole Lance - CEO, Lance Strategies


Financial Roulette (.2 CEU)

Look closely, here’s what you’ll see. 1. Many convinced their organizations are financially stable; 2. Shiny new things popping up compromising the ability to take care of existing assets; 3. Expenses outpacing revenues; and 4. The profound belief that cost recovery models are the answer. It’s time to pay attention and understand where to best place our bets.

Jamie Sabbach - President & CEO, 110% Inc.


Fitness-Focused Playgrounds: A Stealth-Health Community Wellness Solution (.1 CEU)

Strategically designed playgrounds and “American Ninja-Warrior” style fitness parks that encompass users from childhood to adulthood create places that keep everyone staying playing and exercising longer. Attendees will be introduced to physiological research revealing important data on the type of fitness benefits people gain while using specific play events, which includes cardiovascular, muscle strength and endurance, balance and coordination, and mental agility. Park professionals, planners, and designers will learn how to provide more engaging park spaces that get kids and families active and keep them staying at our parks longer, maximizing their physical fitness experience.

John McConkey - Market Research and Insights Manager, Landscape Structures


Funding and Planning Parks for the Future (.1 CEU)

This session will be focused on collaborative efforts across the state related to funding and marketing of local and state parks. Attendees will hear from a variety of presenters with topics including status of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, potential state ballot proposals related to parks funding, SEMCOG’s Southeast Michigan's ParkFinder application and being an advocate in your community.

Jeff Muck - Director, City of Novi Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services


Grant Writing Made Easier: How to Involve Your Staff (.1 CEU)

Grant writing can and should be a group effort! This session will give you tools and show you how to effectively involve your entire staff to document valuable information for not only grant proposals, but as a communication tool with your team, boards, and community.

Lori Irwin - Associate Professor, Central Michigan University


How Green Is Your Pool (.1 CEU)

Bill Babcock from Aquatic source will inform attendees on ways to make their pool operations more energy efficient and expand their Green Footprint.

Bill Babcock - AFO Instructor, Aquatic Source

Nick Shelton - GM, Aquatic Source


iKayak – Introducing People with Disabilities to Kayaking (.1 CEU)

Come learn how partnerships between The Flint River Watershed Coalition, The Disability Network, Rocky’s Great Outdoors and the Genesee County Parks helped to introduce people with disabilities and their families to the wonderful sport of kayaking during the 2018 and 2019 summers! This session will take you step by step on how we were able to work together to create a three-part Inclusive Kayaking program and how you can do the same.   You will have the opportunity to ask question to the Certified Adaptive Paddle Instructor and a Certified Recreational Therapist who started the program.

Nicole Ferguson - Park Naturalist, Genesee County Parks

Jaimie Welch - Paddle Programs Manager, The Flint River Watershed Coalition

Carrie Gerdeman - Program Director, The Disability Network


Impactful Programming with Metroparks Interpretive Services and Natural Resources (.2 CEU)

Tour Kensington Metropark, one of Huron-Clinton Metroparks (HCMA) 13 parks. Amenities at the park include golf, disc golf, beaches, boat rental and launches, trails, and the Farm and Nature Center. Following the tour enjoy a breakout session with Interpretive staff or Natural Resources Department staff.  At the Nature Center, the oldest interpretive center in the Metroparks, you’ll learn about how it is operated, and which programs and services are offered. Natural Resources Department staff will give an overview of the projects designed to actively manage resources and answer any questions about the NRD program.

Jennifer Jaworski - Chief of Interpretive Services, Huron-Clinton Metroparks

Tyler Mitchell - Natural Resources Coordinator, Huron-Clinton Metroparks

Victoria Taylor-Sluder - Western District Interpretive Services Supervisor, Huron-Clinton Metroparks

Mike Broughton - Interpreter, Huron-Clinton Metroparks


Inclusion Matters: Making Play a Priority for People of All Ages and Abilities (.1 CEU)

Opportunities for active, independent play are critical for happier, healthier communities. Truly inclusive, multigenerational outdoor play destinations thoughtfully break down both physical barriers to access and social barriers to actively participate in meaningful ways. Lean strategies to effectively champion inclusive play initiatives that address the needs of the whole child, whole environment, and whole communities. Strategies and resources will be shared to help professionals turn research into practice through evidence-based design considerations that support the diverse needs of society.

Jennie Sumrell - Director of Education, PlayCore


Inclusion+We(U+Me) = Diversity (.1 CEU)

A linear equation for life, solving for (D) Diversity!   Get your scrap paper ready and put your thinking caps on.  During this session we will break down why we need Diversity and Inclusion.  The session will include, critical thinking, as well as require participation verbally and physically.  By the end of the session everyone will indeed have the tools to solve the equation.

Lisa Bryant - Director, Ferndale Parks and Recreation


Keep Belle Isle Beautiful: How Detroit’s Island Park Is Working to Make Great Impact at the Local Level (.1 CEU)

Belle Isle is a 982-acres island park that borders Canada, is situation on the Detroit River, relies heavily on volunteer support and is a critical component to its community. Over the past decade, Belle Isle has undergone significant changes, including transitioning from being City owned and operated to City owned, State operated, and Conservancy supported. Our presentation is one that will discuss Belle Isle's substantial social impact in Detroit, including its rich volunteer history. A main focus of the presentation will include 'Keep Belle Isle Beautiful', a campaign created to increase awareness of littering behavior and how it impacts community parks and local waterways in Michigan. Keep Belle Isle Beautiful ‘s goal is to make great impact at both the local level, by reducing litter on Belle Isle, as well as the global level, by being an active contributor to the umbrella, global campaign to keep our waters free of plastic pollution.

Genevieve Nowak - Director of Volunteer Services, The Belle Isle Conservancy

Aly Melnik - Volunteer Coordinator, The Belle Isle Conservancy


Kids Aren’t Pro Athletes (.1 CEU)

The good news is that more kids are involved in organized sports than ever before. The bad news is that 30% drop out of organized sports between ages 10 and 14. This session will offer ways to create a positive athletic environment for youth sport participants of different ages and skill levels.

Joel Fish - Director, The Center For Sport Psychology


Leader as Influencer: Impression Management in the Spotlight (.1 CEU)

Promoting excellence and innovation requires the ability to influence a wide range of people—both within and outside the organization.  Participants will review what is effective in a variety of formal and informal settings.  According to Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, “People are promoted for technical/operational and intellectual reasons, but fail for emotional ones.”  There will be a number of opportunities for personal reflection—complete with worksheets—to explore opportunities and create a plan of action.

Jan McLaughlin - Jan M. McLaughlin, CSP, Your Communication Connection


Michigan Trailways Act and the Recreational Trespass Act (.1 CEU)

A general overview of the statutory development of the Michigan Trailways Act and the Recreational Trespass Act.  We will discuss the application of the law to property owners and trail managers. Additional liability issues for trail managers will also be addressed. It is important to note that the session does not constitute legal advice but only a general overview of the statutory framework.

Bob Wilson - Former Executive Director, Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance


Opioid Use Disorders - Developing Operational Knowledge of Opioid Use and Other Addictive Disorders to Improve Programs & Outcomes (.2 CEU)

This session will examine overall scope of Substance Use Disorder issues (with emphasis on Opioid Use), provide opportunities for professionals to identify how these disorders can affect their day to day work, and develop strategies to enhance staff efficacy regarding what to do. Participants should be able to describe best practices surrounding integration of care protocols-- particularly partnerships with Health Care Providers and public safety and what their role can be in helping someone in crisis

Brian Spitsbergen PhD, PLLC


Park Pavilions A-Z (.1 CEU)

Session will cover the multitude of issues related to designing, building and operating a quality park pavilion. Issues will include ADA access, layout, building materials and operational issues.

Mark Brochu - Director, St. Clair County Parks and Recreation

Pam Blough - Owner, PMB, Inc


Parks Value from the Private Sector Perspective (.1 CEU)

Parks and public spaces can have a significant impact on how private businesses make long term decisions on their future. Learn how the newly created Michigan Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry plans to impact and advocate for parks and recreation. A round table of representatives from SE Michigan corporations will discuss the impact public spaces have on their businesses and employees and how municipalities can plan for future parks usage from a private business perspective.

Jeff Muck - Director, City of Novi Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services



Play on Player: Overcoming Disability with Play (.1 CEU)

We all want to play, and to play hard. It brings us a sense of challenge, develops social skills, and fosters independence. Play on Player addresses the mission critical nature of inviting everyone to play because adaptive recreation offers so much more than a "you did it!" sticker. This session looks at play from childhood to adulthood, and how it offers solutions to key challenges of development (social skills, independence, confidence, etc.) that kids growing up with disability can struggle with. From finding new hobbies, to school teams, collegiate athletics to world stages- play is an opportunity that shapes us all.

Jill Moore - Marketing Specialist, Landscape Structures


Playground Maintenance: Keeping Your Playgrounds Safe and Fun (.1 CEU)

Nearly 200,000 injuries occur annually on public playgrounds that require emergency room treatment.   By following recommended best practice guidelines, playground owners can create safer play environments for all children and contribute to the reduction of playground related injuries.  This session will highlight the primary causes of playground injuries and discuss the responsibilities of owners and manufacturers for maintaining safe playgrounds.  Participants will gain understanding of the current regulatory environment and how to develop operational policies to ensure compliance with standards.  Finally participants will learn how to establish a playground audit and inspection protocol that can become routine business practice.

John McConkey - Market Research and Insights Manager, Landscape Structures


Recreation & Re-Creation: Natural Systems Design on Belle Isle (.1 CEU)

Belle Isle State Park has long been considered a treasure to southeast Michigan, especially the city of Detroit, but it wasn’t until recent decades that people really understood the true significance of this open park land’s natural resources. This presentation will highlight a few of the many habitat re-creation stories in the park and their significance to the Detroit River ecosystem. This includes the reconnection of 65 acres of historic coastal wetland habitat to the Detroit River, 5 acres of Detroit River spawning reef targeted for over 17 fish species, and 5-acres of new fish nursery in the nearshore.

Andrew McDowell -Landscape Architect, SmithGroup

Amanda Treadwell - Urban Field Planner, Michigan Department of Natural Resources


Self-Care Is a Superpower! (.1 CEU)

Exhaustion and burnout are not status symbols. There is a reason airlines instruct passengers to put on their own mask first! In order to care for others, we must first care for ourselves. We have heard this. We know it in our heads. We feel it in our hearts, but we consistently fail to do so. This session focuses on broad frameworks as well as micro-strategies for self-care in a fast-paced delivery style aimed at giving attendees both the knowledge AND experience to build more self-care into their lives.

Nicole Lance - CEO, Lance Strategies


Standing the Heat (.1 CEU)

We have newsletters, email blasts, blog posts and motivational quotes launched at us daily about leadership. And we exist in a time when “leadership teams”, “the leadership”, and “leaders” are seemingly everywhere. These labels become a complete contradiction when we realize that leadership is not a role, it's a choice.

Based upon the Adaptive Leadership framework developed at Harvard University's Kennedy School, the concepts of leadership are grounded in doing unpopular work when necessary and telling people what they may not want to hear. Maybe that’s something worth discussing and deliberating as we all continue to be challenged daily to make difficult choices and values-based decisions.

Jamie Sabbach - President & CEO, 110% Inc.


Teaching Life Skills Through Sports (.1 CEU)

Sports are a great place to teach life skills such as goal setting, perseverance, learning how to manage emotions, coping with success & adversity, and teamwork. This presentation will identify programming ideas and strategies to help youth sport participants get the positives out ofsport that can also help them in their personal, academic, social, and work lives.

Joel Fish - Director, The Center For Sport Psychology


The Psychology of Working with Today’s Sports Parents, Coaches, and Athletes (.1 CEU)

Working with today’s parents, coaches, and athletes is a major source of stress for park and recreation professionals.  This session will identify myths and facts in working with today’s youth sports parents, coaches, and athletes.  In addition, this session will help participants identify the psychology of parents, coaches, and athletes who are difficult to work with, and offer psychological strategies to work with a variety of parent, coach, and athlete personality types.

Joel Fish - Director, The Center For Sport Psychology


Tips, Tricks and Relationships for Grant Success (.1 CEU)

A round table of professionals from around Michigan focusing on recent and long term success with grant writing through State of Michigan Programs and private foundations.  Will cover ins and outs of different grants, building relationships with the grant funders, and challenges with acquisition projects.

Ken Elwert - Director, Rochester Hills Parks and Natural Resources

Jeff Muck - Director, Novi Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services


Today's Challenges and the Future of Our Profession (.1 CEU)

Results of a membership survey determining the challenges you face on a daily basis along with professionals vision of what our field will be providing in 2040.

Vic Chiasson - Assistant Professor, Eastern Michigan University


Top Ten Teambuilding Activities (.2 CEU)

Dr. Jim Cain is the author of 16 team and community building texts, including the classic Teamwork & Teamplay, A Teachable Moment, Find Something To Do! and his latest book, 100 Activities that Build Unity, Community & Connection. He is also the creator of the innovative T&T Training Cards. Jim Cain will share his top ten team building activities.

Jim Cain, Ph.D. - Teamwork & Teamplay


Transgender and Nonbinary Identities (.1 CEU)

This session will introduce individuals to topics relating to transgender and non-binary identities. This will include addressing individuals by their chosen names and pronouns, gender-neutral language, and disparities faced by transgender and non-binary folks. Participants will come away from the training feeling more confident about interacting with individuals within this demographic and have the tools to understand the different struggles that transgender and non-binary people face daily.

Ian Unger - Program Manager, Affirmations Community Center


When MIOSHA Enforcement Visits (.1 CEU)

Attendees will gain an insight of the process and procedures a MIOSHA compliance officer follows while conducting a workplace inspection and how to respond to MIOSHA citations.  Topics covered include inspection types, employer/employee rights and responsibilities, and penalty reduction factors.

Brenda Cani - Senior Occupational Safety Consultant, Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity

Michael Brodzik - Safety Consultant, Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity - MIOSHA CET Division

Thursday, January 30, 2020

2020 DNR Recreation Grant Application Workshop (.1 CEU)

This workshop is designed to help future grant applicants learn everything they need to know about submitting applications to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, Land and Water Conservation Fund and Recreation Passport grant programs. Best practices and strategies will be discussed.

Erin Campbell - Grant Coordinator, DNR Finance and Operations


99 Programs (.1 CEU)

Join the mParks Programming Focus Area for an idea-sharing, think tank session. Showcase any and all of your programs that have been successful or even ones that you would love to see succeed. Come grab new ideas from fellow parks and recreation professionals!

Jeff Johns - Recreation Programmer, Independence Township


Anger Management & Personal Safety Strategies (.1 CEU)

Anger Management and Personal Safety Strategies

Defusing angry individuals, customers, situations or co-workers is a means of potentially reducing personal injury to employees. This program will describe a variety of techniques and strategies to de-escalate anger and verbal aggression.  It will provide skills for early recognition of possible violence and techniques to avoid risk of attack by understanding personal safety options in direct confrontation situations. Signs of pre-attack behaviors will also be described

Marilyn Knight, MSW - President, M. Knight Consultants, LLC


Be Intentional: 9 Strategies for Relentlessly Pursuing Success (.1 CEU)

Ever woken up at the end of a day, a week, a month, or even a year and wondered what the heck happened and where the time went? Or maybe you have big goals but aren't making the progress towards them you were hoping for? Come learn 9 practical strategies to help you find personal and professional success. Own your days, don't let your days own you.

Nicole Lance - CEO, Lance Strategies


CAPRA Visitor and Agency Training (.2 CEU)

Learn about the new CAPRA standards and procedures by attending this training workshop. The CAPRA training has been updated to cover the new accreditation standards and procedures and is recommended for all agencies going through the initial or continuing accreditation process. Attendees will also qualify to apply to become CAPRA Visitors, and the training serves as a refresher (required every three years) for current CAPRA Visitors. The training reviews all 151 accreditation standards and identifies recent changes to the accreditation program, including new fundamental standards, eliminated standards and changes in how visits and hearings are conducted, and provides opportunity for audience questions to be answered.

Julie M. Parascondola, CPRE - Director, Kent Parks & Recreation Dept


Capturing Visitor "First Impressions" to Improve Outdoor Recreation (.1 CEU)

Have you ever considered capturing first-time visitor perspectives to strengthen outdoor recreation? Have you considered their perspectives might be the catalyst to spawn innovation and improvements?  First Impressions: Tourism Assessments (FIT) is a comprehensive community and recreation assessment conducted by unannounced visitors, which helps stakeholders learn of their strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of first-time visitors. This session will explore the FIT program, our process, and the benefits of and lessons learned from capturing first-time visitor impressions. An overview of five communities that underwent FIT between 2017 and 2019 will be shared outlining impacts and actions.

Andy Northrop - Statewide Sustainable Tourism Educator, Michigan State University Extension


Connecting Schools to Nature in your Parks (.1 CEU)

In a world where standardized testing is driving what and how our children are learning the Genesee County Parks works to be the Green space in the Gray world by providing a variety environmental education opportunities to the students in our community.  This session will provide you will tips, tools and ideas on how you can connect youth in your community to Nature in your parks.

Nicole Ferguson - Park Naturalist, Genesee County Parks

Courtney Prout - Environmental Education Outreach Coordinator, Genesee County Parks


Cross-Sector Collaboration and Decision-Making (.2 CEU)

Increasingly, parks and recreation providers are collaborating across public, private, and non-profit sector boundaries to create meaningful experiences and deliver high-impact programs and services in their communities. This interactive session will offer approaches, methods, and tips focused on 1) effective cross-sector governance and decision-making, 2) project-based lines of authority, communication, and accountability, and 3) resource and information sharing.

Megan Olds - President & Principal, Parallel Solutions LLC


Don't Bring Your Cat to the Interview (.1 CEU)

Job interviews are not normal social interactions. They are often complicated, intimidating and stressful. Learn What-Not-to-Do in your next interview through an examination of real-life job interview stories. The examples are real; the people are real. The results are eye-opening.

Learn critical stress-relieving strategies and fear-reducing techniques that will help you control the tension, pressure, and self-consciousness that may help you through your next interview!

Corinne Barringer - CEO, Barringer Consultants LLC


Ethics Beyond Policy - It's Who You Choose to Be (.1 CEU)

Ethics in action will determine who you choose to be.  It involves honesty, integrity, honor and consistency.  From the smallest decisions you make - to the biggest issues you will confront in your career – your choices define you.  We will explore many areas where ethical dilemmas can surface and prepare you to make decisions that you can be proud of.  You will be able to recognize and handle some of the common, ethical issues that confront parks and recreation professionals.  If you start to re-examine what you do and why you do it – this session will have done its job.

Linda Walter - Outdoor Adventure Center Director, Michigan DNR

Frank Pizzo - Director, Clinton Township Parks & Recreation


Growing Engagement: Keep YOUR Talent from Becoming THEIRS (.2 CEU)

It’s no secret. Your best employees have the power to take their skills to your competition. With a shrinking pool of candidates to choose from, you are faced with an enormous challenge: keeping your top talent from becoming someone else’s! This trend touches all industries. The Gallup organization reports close to 71% of all employees feel unsupported, detached, or disengaged from their current employer. The impact costs US businesses more than $450 billion in lost productivity each year. 

Want to stop your employees from leaving? Come to this fun, interactive session and you'll walk out the tools you need to succeed.

Lisa Ryan - Chief Appreciation Strategist, Grategy


Health and Wellness Summit (.1 CEU)

Is your department doing everything it can to create a healthy community?  In this session, attendees will be able to network, share ideas, learn about new programs being offered and discuss issues.  This session will be highly interactive.

Ken Grybel II - Director of Recreation, Brighton Community Education


How to Stay COOL When Things Heat UP! (.1 CEU)

Have you noticed?  We can’t change other people, we can only change ourselves.  But, by altering our actions and reactions we CAN influence the responses we receive. When interacting with community members, program participants and co-workers, it’s essential that we not lose our cool—even if they lose theirs! In this session, you’ll learn specific techniques you can apply to help reduce your stress level by learning to coexist with life’s difficult people. Discover skills that will help you become less of a target for negative behaviors, take care of yourself – and stay COOL!

Jan McLaughlin - Jan M. McLaughlin, CSP, Your Communication Connection


How to Talk to Real People In a Virtual World (.1 CEU)

Do you know how to negotiate life’s social challenges? Do you know how to use small talk to connect with a stranger? Communicating clearly and confidently is a critical skill for anyone who wishes to succeed both professionally and socially. Whether giving a presentation, going on an interview or attending an event for your business, you need to communicate and connect with real people. Do you know how to really listen or read someone’s body language?  Learn practical speaking strategies and develop your ability to speak and sound effective, dynamic and yet like your natural self.

Corinne Barringer - CEO, Barringer Consultants LLC


Human-Centered Design to Enhance Your Programs (.2 CEU)

Design Thinking is an inclusive strategy that can assist you and your organization in developing a common language for innovation and creative problem-solving skills to ultimately add new energy to your program offerings.  The concept of Design Thinking keeps your program design focused on the people in which you are designing the experience.  By participating in this highly energized and highly interactive session, attendees will leave with a newfound creative confidence, along with numerous practical strategies, to assist them in designing new and exciting human-centered experiences. 

Annie Frisoli - Founder & CEO, Creating Community, LLC


Invasive Species Identification and Management (.1 CEU)

Learn how to identify and control common aquatic and terrestrial invasive species in the region, including high-priority species like Japanese Knotweed, Phragmites, and European Frog-bit from local experts.

Ian Ableson - Six Rivers Land Conservancy

Eric Diesing - Clinton River Watershed Council

Marianna Szucs - Department of Entomology at Michigan State University

McKenzi Bergmoser - Lake St. Clair Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area

Erica Clites - County  Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area

Luke Murchie - Oakland County Parks and Recreation


Managing Wildlife Resources (.1 CEU)

Learn about a variety of management techniques used by the Metroparks to monitor and regulate wildlife resources in a park setting. Topics of discussion include determining the impacts of wildlife on your land and water, developing an effective management protocol, communication with the public and partners, and sharing lessons learned from years of successes and challenges in managing wildlife.

Tyler Mitchell - Natural Resources Coordinator, Huron-Clinton Metroparks


Mastering the Millennial Mindset: How to Attract and Retain Emerging Leaders (.1 CEU)

With approximately 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day, it’s more important than ever to attract the best employees you can hire while dealing with an ever-shrinking talent pool. Even more critical, is keeping your new hires from leaving after spending substantial time, money and human resources to get them onboard. Millennials will make up about 75% of the workforce by 2025. Although offering a large pool of candidates to select from, this generation is sufficiently different than previous generations, making this a crucial conversation to have now, rather than wait until it's too late. The generation following the millennials – Gen Z or the iGen - brings a whole new set of characteristics with them into the workplace.

Lisa Ryan - Chief Appreciation Strategist, Grategy


MNRTF Board Panel (.1 CEU)

Join current Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) Board members and DNR Grants Management staff in a panel discussion about the Trust Fund.  This is your opportunity to ask questions about the direction of the MNRTF and learn more about the decision making process.

Dan Lord - DNR Grants Manager, Department of Natural Resources


Our Role in Community Mental Health (.2 CEU)

This session seeks to help participants identify their communities mental health needs by learning about the connection between recreation and emotional well-being. The goal is to create enriching programs and to decrease  stigma by offering productive and vital programs that residents want to sign up for.

Tara Michener - Author and Counselor, Michener Associates Counseling


Pro-Grammy Awards (.1 CEU)

Looking for a bit on inspiration? This session is to showcase all of the winners for the Innovative Programming Award. Come join the winners as they get the chance to showcase what made their programs and events so special.

Jeff Johns - Recreation Programmer, Independence Township 


Recreation Website Best Practices-Study Results (.1 CEU)

Revize Government Websites conducted a study with 23 Parks & Recreation organizations across the USA. Under anonymity, Revize interviewed the leadership and conducted resident usability studies to see exactly how a resident would like to see a P&R website look like, to make it easier for them to use on a daily basis. We will be presenting the results of the study of the in-common requirements with all P&R organizations.

Joseph Nagrant - Business Development Director, Revize Government Websites


Surviving Active Shooter Incidents (.2 CEU)

As Active Shooter incidents increase in frequency, how to survive such incidents is critical. This program will describe tactical survival and self-defense options for Active Shooter incidents, employee mental preparedness, and how to seize opportunities to "run, hide, or fight" the shooter. Videos of shooting incidents will be used to illustrate survival options. Workforce preparedness, training, security surveys and emergency alert systems will be discussed.

Marilyn Knight, MSW - President, M. Knight Consultants, LLC


Sustainability in Parks and Recreation (.1 CEU)

The session will provide an overview of practices that agencies can take to address the environmental, social and economic aspects of their operations toward being more sustainable.

Ron Olson - Chief of Parks and Recreation, DNR


The Silver Tsunami! A Wave of Opportunity (.1 CEU)

By 2030, 25% of Michigan’s population, which means 1 in 4 people, will be age 60+. Proactive and creative programming will be integral in keeping this tidal wave of older adults both mentally and physically healthy, independent, connected and productive.  This session will provide an overview of the demographic shifts in Michigan’s Aging Population, senior programming successes and challenges, the importance of collaborations with senior centers and 2nd Act careers for the 50+.

Renee Cortright - Executive Director, Older Persons' Commission

Matt Spierling - Fitness & Aquatics Dept. Head, Older Persons' Commission


The Strategic Advantage of Putting People First (.1 CEU)

Remembering the human side of business can be the differentiator between a good team and a great team. Are you leaving the human-ness out of the workplace? Learn why cultivating relationships at work is good for business, how to lead with humanity and put people first, why most people focus on mechanical tasks instead of human interactions, and a tip on how to gain strategic advantages by leading with authenticity.

Nicole Lance - CEO, Lance Strategies


Truck Farm – Brings the Garden to YOU! (.1 CEU)

Have you ever seen an 18 foot garden driving by you on the road?  No, well in the Genesee County Parks we call that Truck Farm, our Mobile Greenhouse that is ready to bring hands-on garden science to you.  Started in 2012, Truck Farm was developed as a way to provide garden education to youth in our community. Over the last 8 years Truck Farm has grown in size and popularity reaching thousands of students through school, park and community events. During this session participants will learn how barrier and challenges to food access and garden education lead to this outside the box idea being developed into one of the most popular parks educational resources.

Nicole Ferguson - Park Naturalist, Genesee County Parks

Courtney Prout - Environmental Education Outreach Coordinator, Genesee County Parks


Understanding the Fair Labor Standards Act (.1 CEU)

This session will provide attendees an overview and understanding of what the Fair Labor Standard Act and what managers, supervisors and administration professional should know to avoid illegal practices under the law and understand the law and its requirements on employers.

Michael Burns - President, ASE Professional Staff Management


What Is so Important About an Employee Handbook? (.1 CEU)

This session will provide attendees an overview and understanding of what an employee handbook does in addition to communicating policy and benefits information. Information focus will be on the legal compliance components of handbook employment policies and why they are necessary.

Michael Burns - President, ASE Professional Staff Management


Workplace Violence Prevention: De-Escalation Training and Techniques (.1 CEU)

A CPI representative will be sharing a few verbal de-escalation techniques that can help with a wide range of participants, from angry guests to individuals with disabilities. And then I’d add that a Canton Township rep, who has been successfully implementing this training for the last 5+ years will share testimonials and personal experiences, including ways to use related data.

Brooke Pertner - Michigan Training Coordinator, Crisis Prevention Institute

Jennifer Provenzano - Recreation & Cultural Arts Supervisor, Canton Leisure Services


You Gotta Have Art…In Parks (.2 CEU)

This off-site trip will feature Novi's Villa Barr Art Park.  The park was once the property of renowned artist David Barr and his wife Beth.  Through a unique agreement, the City purchased the property for use as an art and cultural center.  It is now an art park with more than 20 sculptures and is home to an artist-in-residence program. High school teachers have added visits to their curriculum and a partnership with the Novi Historical Commission has led to a touring Villa Barr presentation.  The City's Cultural Arts Advisory Board and the Friends of Villa Barr help to determine the direction of park improvements and programming.  The group will also take a short ride to view sculptures in Fuerst Park.  Tour limited to 30 people.  This site is not ADA Compliant and has a spiral stairway. Wear winter apparel and footwear – a portion of the morning will be spent outdoors.

Tracie Ringle - Deputy Director, City of Novi

Alyssa Golles - Recreation Supervisor, City of Novi

John Sauve - Artist and Arts Educator


You Have a Grant, Now What? (.1 CEU)

Learn the process and requirements for implementing your Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, Land and Water Conservation Fund and Recreation Passport grants. Topics include project agreements, requirements for acquisition and development projects, reimbursement, post completion requirements and helpful hints to common pitfalls.

Merrie Carlock - Grant Coordinator, Michigan Department of Natural Resources


Friday, January 31, 2020


Brian Carter is the #1 bestselling author of The Like Economy, LinkedIn for Business, Facebook Marketing, and The Cowbell Principle. Brian is respected as an international authority on how organizations of all sizes can create and retain business using the Internet. His 18 years of business success guide The Brian Carter Group, a digital and social marketing agency with world-class expertise and experience. Since 1999, Brian has been at the forefront of marketing, technology, social media and sales, working to drive big business results for real companies.

Brian Carter - Keynote Speaker


The 2020 mParks Conference & Trade Show will not include the Statewide Trail Summit. For 2020, mParks has partnered with West Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance and the Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance to co-host the Mid-American Trails & Greenways (MATAG) Conference.

August 30 - September 2, 2020 | Grand Rapids, MI

More information on the MATAG Conference can be found at

Presenting Sponsor