Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 - NOVA Parks in Review

Cate Magennis Wyatt
2015 was another excellent year for NOVA Parks, with progress and achievement in many areas. Here are a few of the highlights from the year.

NOVA Parks Board:
In February, Joan Rokus stepped down from our Board after 23 years of service. The Loudoun Board of Supervisors appointed Cate Magennis Wyatt to fill that seat. Cate brings a wealth of experience to our Board. She served as the Virginia Secretary of Commerce, reporting directly to Governor Doug Wilder. Her leadership roles in the private sector, government, and non-profit sectors helped her found and grow the Journey Through Hallowed Ground (JTHG), which promotes tourism and conservation in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Sean Kumar
In September, David Pritzker stepped down from our Board after 35 years of service. The City Council of Alexandria appointed Sean Kumar to serve in his place. Sean is a life-long resident of Alexandria with a law career in both the public and private sectors. Currently, Mr. Kumar is a JAG officer in the U.S. Army.

One of the key measures of a healthy park system is growth in parkland. 2015 was a great year in the expansion of parkland at NOVA Parks. We started the year by opening the Tinner Hill Historic Site on the border between the City of Falls Church and Fairfax County. This site played a significant role in the early Civil Rights movement one hundred years ago.
Tinner Hill Ribbon Cutting

On June 1,  NOVA Parks opened the Beaverdam Reservoir for recreational use. This is part of a partnership with Loudoun Water who owns the reservoir. Between the 600-acre reservoir and the roughly 450 acres of NOVA Parks land adjacent to it, we have a 1,000+ acre park with one of the largest lakes in the region. After a successful summer season, we initiated a public planning process in October to help envision the future of this new park area.

We obtained permits putting The Battle of Middleburg/Mt. Defiance property closer to an open park. A few more permits and some additional work, and this site will help tell the story of a Civil War battle that is not well known.

In December, we completed the acquisition of Springdale Regional Park, a 150 acre site on the Potomac River near Point of Rocks. Additional permits and work are needed to open this site, but the first and all important step of acquiring it is done!
Beaverdam Reservoir

NOVA Parks continues to be recognized by many national and state organizations as one of the best park agencies in the nation. This year, the Virginia Recreation and Parks Society (VRPS) bestowed the ‘Best Promotional Effort’ award for the NOVA Parks Facility Guide and Directory. The Government Financial Officers Association (GFOA) again gave us both the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award and the Certificate of Achievement in Financial Reporting Award.
Children at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park

Four years ago, we set a goal of having half a million children have a meaningful nature experience through NOVA Parks over five years. This September, we celebrated this achievement. We call our program to engage children with nature “Nature Nuts,” and it incorporates all the ways children are exploring nature in our park system. Recently, we have expanded our summer camp programs, and we partnered with other organizations like Audubon Naturalist Society to offer more nature-based programing in our parks. We also have a very successful ‘Roving Naturalist’ program that brings nature education to where the people are, at fairs, festivals and other gatherings. Getting children interested in nature will assure that this is support for parks in the future.

Improving the W&OD Trail:
Flashing Beacons
We have been on a multi-year effort to improve trail safety. In 2015, rapid flashing beacons were added to the roadways crossing the trail at Cedar Lane, Belmont Ridge Road, and Sterling Blvd. Also, there was a tunnel built for trail users to go under Rt. 7 and Rt. 9 in Loudoun County. Crestview Drive and Van Buren Streets in Herndon received new medians to allow for easier crossing by trail users. Currently, there is construction going on to improve safety of the intersection at Park Street in Vienna. Last year, in our Trail Safety Summit, we heard that in addition to the physical engineering we would also need social engineering to address behaviors of trail users to instill a more friendly and safety-focused ethic. We started addressing this issue this year by making our first two “Trail Guys” videos. One deals with staying hydrated, and the other deals with the need to stop at stop signs. Both use humor to make their points.

Personnel Management:
Leadership Training for Park Managers
“People are our most important asset” is much more than a saying. NOVA Parks has become one of the best park agencies in the nation because of the work of our outstanding staff. To continue to build on this momentum, we implemented a truly novel and innovative system of goals and rewards this year. 2014/2015 was the first year where virtually all our staff had personal goals for the year. In October, all those goals were reviewed, and new goals were set for the coming year. We used a new web-based system to manage all of these annual reviews and goals. The end result was making a much clearer connection between the strategic goals of the organization and the role that each staff member plays in achieving those goals. Also this year, employees were eligible for a new Performance Incentive Plan (PIP). We took a percentage of our end of the year surplus and used it as a bonus pool. Based on the achievement of personal goals, most employees received a Performance Incentive to recognize their achievements. This creates an investment and buy-in on the performance of the whole organization that is highly motivating. This program will hopefully inspire even greater performances in the future.

Parks hit new highs in use:
2015 has seen more park users and more associated park revenues than ever before. This success has been spread across most elements of our operations. Events, waterparks and many other areas have driven growth. Golf has been down for a number of years but seems to have flattened out. As we end the year, we are going out with a bang! The two holiday light shows that run from mid-November to January 3rd are seeing their greatest use ever. Over 160,000 visitors are ending the year by enjoying either the Bull Run Festival of Lights in Centreville, a drive-through show; or the Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights in Vienna, a walk-through light show.
Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights

Bull Run Festival of Lights

As happens any year, there were some setbacks along with the victories in 2015. But, by any standard, 2015 was a great year for NOVA Parks, and a great year for our region!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Budgets are Good!

I like organizational budgets. There, I said it, judge me if you must.

And for our 8th consecutive year NOVA Parks has won the top honors in public sector budgeting. This is the Distinguished Budget Award awarded by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). This award is not like an audit where they see if all the math is correct. It is much more than that. The goal for this award is financial transparency, or in other term, making a budget understandable to everyone.

In the old days a budget was just a tool to control expenses and forecast revenues. It was all about the numbers. Today a good budget is much more. It is a communication tool to convey the priorities and focus of the organization.

At NOVA Parks our budget is THE go to document. It contains both strategic goals, and operational goals for each facility. It has various measurable results for each facility. I has charts and graphs that show ten year trends for many of our major areas of focus, and contains an analysis of the current and future years. And in addition to all of this good stuff, it also has our revenues and expenses.

NOVA Parks is very unique in that we self-fund 85% of our operations. So tax dollars make up just 15% of our operating revenues. What this means is that we need to be much more business focused than most other park agencies. The national average for park agencies is that 73% of operations are funded by government tax dollars.

To offset the uncertainty of  not having a guaranteed funding source for most of our expenses, we are quite diversified. So rather than having all our eggs in one basket, we are in about a dozen different businesses that fit our park mission. The end result is the public gets an amazing deal from NOVA Parks. Fantastic destination parks, minimal claim on tax dollars, and wonderful services.

The link below is for the FY'2016 Budget for NOVA Parks:


Friday, December 18, 2015

Innovation Lights the Way in Premier Light Shows

Winter Walk of Lights

The innovative holiday light shows of both Bull Run Regional Park and Meadowlark Botanical Gardens have transformed the holiday season for thousands in the Northern Virginia area.  Both shows feature highly customized 100% LED light displays.  NOVA Parks defines the very best of Northern Virginia, and this can be seen very clearly at these two shows.  Collectively, between these two shows, around 150,000 people experience these amazing light displays, and 2015 is likely to set a new high water mark for both shows.

The first great innovation happened in 2005.  Before that time, a contractor had a light show for years at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville.  That year, the contactor did not show up to run the light show.  The old show was not all that it could be, but it still had a following.  NOVA Parks decided to create an all-new 100% LED light show that used quite a bit of animation.  The new show was a big hit and also the first all LED drive-through light show in America!  Over the last ten years, we have added to the lights every year, and the popularity has grown.  Last year, over 35,000 cars or an estimated 120,000 people experienced this amazing 2.5 mile long Bull Run Festival of Lights.

In 2013, NOVA Parks opened the premier Botanical Garden light show in the country.  The Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights in Vienna, Virginia, is also a 100% LED light show.  It is a very different experience where at a half mile walk through show, the lights surround and delight the visitors.  It is highly animated with a strong nature theme, including a river of lights with jumping fish, butterflies and squirrels moving in lights.  The experience is spectacular.  Last year, 46,500 people were delighted by this magical experience.

The key to success in both shows has been to go big.  We have really focused on making both highly unique, and totally custom.  The holiday season is filled with tradition, but our goal is to delight and surprise our visitors.  A trip to either of these light shows is not complete unless everyone is delighted and in awe.  Our goal is that no visitor will be able to resist pointing and saying “wow” as he or she goes through these ever changing and expanding shows.

Last year saw more than 166,000 people enjoy these shows.  This year, we have already surpassed that number, and there is still time for more to participate before the shows close on January 3, 2016. 

Tinner Hill Historic District

January 2015 Grand Opening of Tinner Hill Historic Site

The Tinner Hill Historic District was just approve to be on the Fairfax County Inventory of Historic Places. This is yet another acknowledgement of the significant events that took place 100 years ago when this site on the border between Falls Church and Fairfax County was the place of a meeting that led to the first rural chapter of the NAACP.

In 1915 Falls Church was considering segregation zoning that would result in displacing many African American families. This was relatively common in the time of Jim Crow segregation laws. A group of very brave civic leaders fought these efforts in Falls Church and won. The current Fairfax County NAACP is a direct descendant organization from this effort in 1915.

The property is made of two parcels one purchased by the City of Falls Church, and one by Fairfax County in 1999. In 2014 both the City and County leased these parcels to NOVA Parks for 99 years so we could create a unified site. NOVA Parks added a shelter, walk ways, signs, and art.

The historic arch of civil rights is long. The movement did not start in the 1950 as some believe, but has a much longer complex story. The Tinner Hill Historic Site is one of those places that celebrates an early victory in the civil rights movement.

A new park on the Potomac!

Yesterday we completed the acquisition of another future park! We will call it Springdale, and it is 150 acres on the Potomac River. The site includes farm structures from the early 1800s, and is in an area with a rich Native American history. There is almost a half mile of river frontage.

There is no public access to this site yet, but over the next few years we hope to be able to open this great site for public use. 

NOVA Parks has added around 1,500 acres and 12 new parks in the last 10 years! We are currently at over 11,500 acres of some of the most beautiful land in the Northern Virginia Region. Some of our parks are remote and passive, and some are extremely popular, and highly used.

Our role in the world is to provide unique destination parks that  help define the very best of Northern Virginia.

Thank you PHTA

Below is a report on the activities of the Potomac Heritage Trail Association over the last year. I highlighted all the parks that are owned by NOVA Parks to focus on just how much this trail group does to help us. In addition to being one of your many important partners in maintaining our properties, they are also helping out all the other park agencies in the region. 

Volunteers are critical to providing great park places for the public, and the Potomac Heritage Trail Association is one of the very best groups out there. THANK YOU!

Potomac Heritage Trail Accomplishments for 2015
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
   Scouting a future PHT route from Georges Mill Road to Route 340, with
    major research on public road access for the PHT route.
Springdale Regional Park
   Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority purchased 150 acres along the
   Potomac River near Point of Rocks, with plans for a future section of the PHT.
Whites Ford Regional Park
   New PHT logo indicating that the Riverfront Trail is now a section of the PHT.
Veterans Park at Balls Bluff
   New park entrance and Potomac Heritage Trail sign, with fresh paint blazing.
Potomac Crossing Park
   New PHT logo on new park entrance sign.
Balls Bluff Battlefield Regional Park
   Fresh PHT paint blazing, including along Balls Bluff above the Potomac River.
Edwards Landing Park
    Fresh PHT paint blazing.
Sage Hill Farm
   New trail near removed pine plantation, with new PHT paint blazing.
Red Rocks Wilderness Overlook Regional Park
   New PHT paint blazing along White Trail.
Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park
   Fresh PHT paint blazing, new blue hiker logos at the Goose Creek Overlook
   Trail, Kepheart Landing Trail, and Goose Creek Canal Trail.
Janelia Farm Trail Easement
   Fresh PHT paint blazing, new plastic direction sign at east end.
Potomac Farm Trail Easement
   Fresh PHT paint blazing.
Selden Island
   Preliminary talks between the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Potomac
   Conservancy, and Potomac Heritage Trail Association about opening the
   island to the public as a nature preserve and possible section of the PHT.
Bles Park
   Major trail upgrade to the PHT, including new signage and gravel entrance.
   Fresh PHT paint blazing.
Algonkian Regional Park
   Fresh PHT paint blazing, and grand opening of the popular new Woods Land
   Trail. Ira Gabrielson and Algonkian Sanctuary National Recreation Trail signs
   moved to the proper location.
Lowes Island Trail Easement
   Fresh PHT paint blazing, with upgrades to trail sections.
Seneca Regional Park
   Fresh PHT paint blazing, and new PHT logos.
Fraser Preserve
   Fresh PHT paint blazing and new PHT logos
Upper Potomac Regional Parklands
   Fresh PHT paint blazing and new PHT logos.
Great Falls Park
  Repair of road along Difficult Run.
Great Falls to Scotts Run PHT connector trail
   Construction of new PHT trail along Capital Beltway sound wall.
Theodore Roosevelt Island National Memorial
   New Potomac Heritage Trail sign installed by PATC.
Woodlawn National Historic Trust
   Scouting of new section of Potomac Heritage Trail.
Fort Belvoir
   New bike path along Route 1, and scouting of new section of PHT along
   Fort Belvoir and through Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge.
Noman Cole Lower Potomac Water Treatment Center
   Scouting of new section of PHT, with upgrades and PHT paint blazing
   coming soon.
Joseph Plaskett Park
   New PHT paint blazing coming soon.
Laurel Hill Park
   New PHT trail along Laurel Crest, with connections to the Cross County Trail.
Mason Neck Visitor Information Center
    Grand opening of major PHT trail gateway for Mason Neck.
Meadowood Recreation Area
    PHT now complete.
Pohick Bay Regional Park
    PHT route now complete, with new PHT logos.
Gunston Hall National Historic Landmark
    New PHT logos.
Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge
    New PHT logos.
Mason Neck State Park
   New PHT logos.
Civil War Defense of Washington Trail
   Major Sierra Club PRO promotional hike in celebration of Rock Creek Park's
   125th anniversary.
   Major sections of the Potomac Heritage Trail have also added new plastic
   directional signs, wooden mileage signs, and Potomac Connection signs.
                                                                    Glenn Gillis

                                                                    Potomac Heritage Trail Association

Monday, November 02, 2015

The NOVA Parks Difference seen in national data

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) has a powerful data base that can compare park systems nationwide. They just released their 2015 data, and it helps tell the tale of what a different and unique agency NOVA Parks is.

One of the most defining features is that NOVA Parks is largely self funded through enterprise operations. Where the average park system in America generates 27% of their operating revenues from enterprise activities, NOVA Parks is at nearly 85%.

Where the money comes from can also be seen in the chart below that has a line entitled "Total Tax Expenditure per Capita." This shows that NOVA Parks receives only $1.84 per person from our member jurisdictions to off-set our operating expenditures compared to the national average of over $56.
One of the factors to consider in these national averages is the NOVA Parks is a regional park system that is designed to supplement to local park systems in each one of our six jurisdictions. The local park systems focus on and do an excellent job with the community athletics. This frees NOVA Parks to focus on unique destination parks.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

PATC Trail Success

Every year I get a letter like this with the total house of volunteer time that the PATC has donated to maintaining the trails. It is backed up with several pages of data with date and areas of work that took place over the year. When you consider that in full time employment a person works about 2,000 hours a year, the gift of 1,731 hours of volunteer trail work is substantial!

And PATC is just one of a number of organizations that devote regular volunteer time to NOVA Parks. We track all of the volunteer hours that individuals, and groups donate. In total it is equivalent to a full time position at every one of our parks! So, it is not a stretch to say that we could not operate as a park agency if we did not have all the wonderful volunteers that we do.

So to all those that volunteer to help park agencies do their job, I say: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Customer Service Wins the Day!

Pirates Cove staff enjoy their well earned reward for selling the most mugs
Customer service wins the day! There is a huge difference in the experience you have in a place where the staff is disengaged, and a place where the staff is trained and focused on engaging the public and providing outstanding service.

For over a year NOVA Parks has been involved in an effort to set us apart from the pack in the area of customer service. Today we have an extensive and ongoing program on customer service. This summer all our front line seasonal staff had customers service training and continuous follow up. 

One unexpected area where we were able to measure our customer engagement was in the sales of commemorative mugs at our water parks. We noticed early in the season that one particularly friendly and engaging staff at Pirates Cove Water Park was selling a lot of commemorative mugs. Customers were being told about the great deal in beverage refills that they would get with the purchase of the mugs. The friendly demeanor and good information were resulting in high sales. So we created a system wide challenge.  With the reward of a Chipotle party for staff, each of our 5 water parks competed in July to see which one could sell the most commemorative mugs as a percent of total food sales. 

This friendly competition resulted in everyone refocusing on customer engagement and good service. The results were an additional 262 mugs over the 544 sold in June.  There were increases across the board. Pirates Cove again won the competition, but because all the water parks stepped up their game for the competition they were all energized. The end result for the public was that they had friendly helpful staff engaging with them in positive ways. We never expected that the sale of a mug could be a barometer of customer service, but it was one measure of that quality that is hard to measure. 

In a world where customer service is too often missing, our goal is to make all of our parks place of exceptional customer service. We want the public to look forward to interactions with our staff, and to have these interactions define consistently great experiences.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Parks lead on Sustainability

Inherit the Earth, or borrow it from our Children?

As park and recreation agencies, what is our role in solving the world’s environmental problems?  On one level, addressing issues like global climate change, or even the expansion of invasive plants, can seem far beyond the scope of any one agency, and it is.  

But on another level, showing leadership on environmental issues can have numerous benefits including:

Ø Contributing to the solution of these issues, even if it is small in scope
Ø Setting a good example of being good stewards of the natural resources we are entrusted with
Ø Positioning your agency, parks and programs as being an important local part of addressing these global issues

Big, hairy issues like the overuse of chemicals in our environment, or shifting weather patterns, can be overwhelming to many in our communities who would like to protect our environment but may not be sure where to start.  This is where park systems can play a pivotal role.  We have parks and programs that reach the people. We are a trusted voice on issues related to natural resources.  By taking a more proactive role in environmental protection, we can serve our communities better, and our world.  It is the old adage of “think globally, and act locally.”

Attached is a Sustainability Report that was recently published by NOVA Parks (Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority).  This report highlights the agency’s efforts over a number of years to reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers, enhance riparian plantings, reduce their carbon footprint, and expand environmental education.

The report starts with the Native American saying, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”  The message that we need to take action if we want to pass on a world with a healthy environment to future generations runs throughout the document.  While this is a message we should all take to heart individually, as professionals in the parks and recreation field, we have the ability to set an important example and educate our communities about what they can do to be part of the solution. 

The link below is to the full Sustainability Report from NOVA Parks:

Friday, May 22, 2015

Korean Bell Garden

Last weekend we celebrated the third anniversary of the completion of the Korean Bell Garden at Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna Virginia. This continues to be a very successful partnership between the Korean-American Cultural Committee headed by Jeung Hwa Elmejjad-Yi, and NOVA Parks.

This amazing Korean Garden features unique structures hand built by special artists from Korea built in a traditional way that dates back many centuries. The large, 3 ton bell at the center of the garden was cast in Gyeonggi-do, and is a gift from that Provence of Korea.
The garden was funded with donations, including support from the Republic of Korea, and many very generous private donors.

Part of the agreement between NOVA Parks and the Korean-American Cultural Committee was for an endowment to support the long-term maintenance and upkeep of this international treasure. At the event last Saturday $20,000 towards the $200,000 endowment goal was donated.

The event was attended by over 300 people, featured many cultural displays and events, and was attended by may elected officials who have been supportive of these efforts.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

2015 Employee Achievement Awards

Most people sit through too many meetings. But there is one meeting each year that I can not get enough of. It is our annual "All-Staff Meeting" at NOVA Parks. This is the time when we review all the big projects and initiatives that we have completed or made progress on last year, and set our sights on the year ahead. Each department reports what they are doing. The depth and breadth of leadership at NOVA Parks is remarkable.

The meeting ends with the annual Employee Achievement Awards. The following people were nominated by their peers. Then a cross-functional team of employees reviewed the nominations and about half of them were deemed exceptional and beyond just doing a good job. This group is listed below.

Join me in congratulating these winner!

* all photos have from left to right: Brian Knapp (Board Member), Michael Nardolilli (Vice Chair), Stella Koch (Chair), Award Recipient, Paul Gilbert (Executive Director). 

Dan Iglhaut

 Dan Iglhaut
Dan Iglhaut has achieved recognition in the area of Above and Beyond.  Dan’s efforts to assist in the protection of historic railroad siding on the W&OD Trail were important on many levels.  When faced with public outcry after a developer began destroying this historic feature, Dan worked extensively with Arlington County to create a historic district that now protects the Benjamin Elliott Coal Trestle and will give NOVA Parks the opportunity to interpret the site and its significance.

Ann Marie Warren
Pohick Bay Regional Park
Anne Marie Warren has achieved recognition in the area of Above and Beyond.  Anne Marie plays a critical role as Pool Manager at Pirate’s Cove and has been called “The Glue” that holds the waterpark together.  Anne Marie’s assistance with the staff incentive program and the rollout of the new customer service program were instrumental in the programs successes at Pirate’s Cove Waterpark.
Ben Bilko

Ben Bilko
White’s Ford Regional Park
Ben Bilko has achieved recognition in the area of Team Player.  In addition to Ben’s duties at many other NOVA Parks locations, he was tasked with assisting in the preparations and final details for the opening of White’s Ford Regional Park.  Ben worked closely with the Planning and Development Department and assigned contractors to ensure the park was ready for the grand opening.  Tasks included assisting with the boat launch facilities, tree plantings and ordering and installation of park signage.  The opening of the park was a great success, and much of that can be contributed to the work of Ben.  
Dave Zickafoose

Dave Zickafoose
David Zickafoose has achieved recognition in the areas of Cost Savings and Above and Beyond.  With the implementation of a new point of sale system came the possibility that we would be required to replace a large portion of our existing hardware.  David took it upon himself to research and develop a solution that created compatibility between the new system and our existing hardware.  David’s hard work and knowledge saved NOVA Parks thousands in equipment upgrade costs.   
Sarah Johnson

Sarah Johnson
Cameron Run Regional Park
Sarah Johnson has achieved recognition in the area of Safety.  During her years at Great Waves Waterpark, Sarah has developed into a vital component of the NOVA Parks aquatics program.  Sarah’s mastery of the NASCO aquatics system and her ability to teach others has been important to the program’s success, not just a Great Waves but at all the NOVA Parks waterpark facilities.  Sarah has also assumed the lead role on the Aquatics commitment for the last several years using her knowledge and skills to impact the agency as a whole. 
John Houser

John Houser
Occoquan Regional Park
John Houser has achieved recognition in the areas of Above-and-Beyond and Team Player.  John has played a critical role in the development and delivery of our new agency-wide customer service program.  John’s participation in the interview process to select our program consultant, his assistance with the overall design of the program and its successful delivery to hundreds of NOVA Parks’ employees and volunteers is a big part of why moving into our second full year the program is flourishing.
Cindy Hudson

Cindy Hudson
Cindy Hudson has achieved recognition in the area of Innovation.  Cindy’s extensive work on the new employee pay table was tremendous and exceptionally time consuming.  This required extensive research and huge attention to detail to ensure it had the desired impact on how NOVA Parks employees are compensated.  The result of Cindy’s hard work is a system that will benefit all current and future employees for many years to come.
John Lewis & Tracy Gillespie

John Lewis
Temple Hall Farm Regional Park
John Lewis has achieved recognition in the area of Programming.  John played an integral role in the development of a first of its kind week-long Civil War camp that encompassed several of NOVA Parks’ historic sites.  Campers were able to experience the life of a Civil War soldier practicing marching and artillery drills and also what life was like on the home front.

Tracy Gillespie
Mt Zion Historic Park

Tracy Gillespie has achieved recognition in the area of Programming.  Tracy played an integral role in the development of a first of its kind week-long Civil War camp that encompassed several of NOVA Parks’ historic sites.  Campers were able to experience the life of a Civil War soldier practicing marching and artillery drills and also what life was like on the home front. 
Dale Hook

Dale Hook
Dale Hook has achieved recognition in the area of Customer Service.  Dale epitomizes GREAT customer service and this shows not only in how she treats NOVA Parks customers but also how she handles the internal customers she serves in her many roles at NOVA Parks Headquarters.  A great example of this is the assistance she provides to the marketing department with the assembly of new promotional features such as the cabin information binders for Pohick Campground, or assisting with copying and editing of other promotional materials.   Dale is quick to support whatever functions are needed; this was seen firsthand with Dale’s work on inputting customer data into the new agency-wide point of sale system.  This work took months to complete and was done with great care.
Sharon Swab

Sharon Swab
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
Sharon Swab has achieved recognition in the area of Customer Service.  Sharon’s passion for Meadowlark and NOVA Parks is contagious, and she shares that daily with visitors year round.  Whether it is providing a great experience at the Winter Walk of Lights or the gardens during the summer season, visitors will find a knowledgeable, enthusiastic ambassador of all things Meadowlark. 
Kelly Koster

Kelly Koster
Pohick Bay Regional Park
Kelly Koster has achieved recognition in the area of Above and Beyond.  With the NOVA Parks rebranding efforts in full swing, Kelly was asked to be the lead “on camera star” for a new promotional video that highlights our organization and will be used in a multitude of ways, including public broadcast.  Kelly handled this task with great ease and enthusiasm, and the product produced turned out to be some of the best promotional work we as an organization have done.

Brian Bauer

Brian Bauer
Brian Bauer has achieved recognition in the area of Innovation.  Brian’s work on the NOVA Parks rebranding efforts has been extraordinary.  Our agency at times has suffered from an identity crisis and now the new NOVA Parks brand that Brian has spearheaded has given us an identity which will assist greatly in letting the communities we serve know how unique and exceptional NOVA Parks truly is.
Doug Smith

Doug Smith
Bull Run Regional Park
Doug Smith has achieved recognition in the area of Above and Beyond.  Doug joined NOVA Parks first ever Civil War Camp as Corporal Smith, volunteering his time and talents to many eager campers.  Corporal Smith’s duties included standard military drilling, battle scenarios and the sharing of his extensive knowledge of the Civil War with the group.  Doug’s interactions with our campers were done with great patience, encouragement and good humor, with Doug even providing each camper with a souvenir minie ball to take home.

Vanessa Herndon

Vanessa Herndon
Carlyle House
Vanessa Herndon has achieved recognition is the area of Programming.  Vanessa especially shines in children’s programming where she is credited with the creation of the Carlyle Craft Day that, as a first time program, hosted more than 120 attendees.  Vanessa is also a large part of the overall success of the increasingly popular Camp Carlyle.  Thanks to Vanessa’s fresh eye and inventive approach, the stories of the Carlyle House live on through dynamic programs.

Jake Bumbrey
Jake Bumbrey has achieved recognition in the areas of Versatility and Responsiveness.  Jake’s work on the development of the Tinner Hill Historic Site was one that was extremely time sensitive and of great importance to the community.  The project had many complications with regard to construction and permitting issues that Jake was able to navigate through with great skill.  While doing this, he also worked closely with various interest groups and their expectations for the site.  As a result of Jake’s efforts, Tinner Hill Historic Site opened on time and with great accolades from the community.
Ben Goode

Ben Goode
Rust Sanctuary
Ben Goode has achieved recognition in the areas of Cost Savings and Above and Beyond.  Ben has been able to use his wide range of skills to improve the facilities at Rust Sanctuary. Ben has taken on the renovations of four rooms within the main house, including a redesign of the kitchen, installation of new flooring and extensive plaster work throughout the house.  Ben has also stepped in on a number of other projects, including the emergency repair of a well pump to ensure water was available for an afternoon wedding.  Because of efforts like this Rust is quickly becoming a popular destination for area brides.

Doranne Pittz

Doranne Pittz
Fountainhead Regional Park
Doranne Pittz has achieved recognition in the areas of Customer Service and Team Player.  Doranne pioneered the first ever Customer Service GREAT Board, setting the standard for other facilities to follow.  Doranne has also taken it upon herself to organize activities outside of work in an effort to build a true team atmosphere among all NOVA Parks employees.  Doranne is often one of the first to volunteer or take on additional duties as needed, making her the true definition of a Team Player.  
Brian Nolan

Brian Nolan
Brian Nolan has achieved recognition in the area of Versatility.  Brian, as the Special Projects Manager for the Planning and Development Department, is responsible for managing a multitude of complex projects and tasks.  Doing this well requires constant communication and updates to contractors, consultants, local permitting offices and NOVA Parks staff.  Brian accomplishes this with great skill and exceptional organization and results.
Jules Maloney

Jules Maloney
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
Jules Maloney has achieved recognition in the area of Versatility.  Jules is tasked with managing an emerging camp program in the summer months and then is asked to quickly transition into Light Show mode soon thereafter.  As the Camp Grow Leader, she provides exceptional experiences for all campers introducing the groups to new and exciting activities.  During Light Show times, she becomes an orchestrator of the multitude of details that go into making the light show a success.  Jules has managed both roles with tremendous enthusiasm and great results

Jenny Friedman

Jenny Friedman
Jenny Friedman has achieved recognition in the area of Innovation.  Jenny’s design efforts on The Atrium wedding venue booklet provided NOVA Parks’ most popular wedding venue a prestige piece that assists in painting the picture of The Atrium as a first class event venue to prospective clients.  This promotional piece also surpassed many great nominees from the state and received the award for “Best Promotional Effort” from the Virginia Recreation and Park Society at its annual conference.
Ted Riley, Jr.
 Ted Riley Jr.
Central Maintenance
Ted Riley Jr. has achieved recognition in the area Team Player.  Each day, Ted demonstrates the true meaning of being a Team Player with his willingness to take on projects outside of his normal job duties to achieve positive results.  This can often mean assisting with plumbing or carpentry projects that due to his assistance contribute greatly to the efficiency of our Central Maintenance operations.    

Jackie Querry

Jackie Querry
Rust Sanctuary
Jackie Querry has achieved recognition in the area of Customer Service.  Jackie exemplifies GREAT customer service by consistently assisting couples in the planning of their event with their budget and overall event expectations in mind.  This is especially helpful with the wedding ceremony itself, where Jackie often leads couples through the details they often have not yet thought about.  Jackie is consistently identified in online and other site reviews as a true event professional.  
Kim McCleskey

Kim McCleskey
Kim McCleskey has achieved recognition in the area of Responsiveness.  Each budget year, Kim works tirelessly to create a budget process that is efficient and easy to navigate for everyone involved.  Kim is always willing to meet with staff who request additional information or explanation about their particular piece of the budget.  Kim consistently seeks feedback on the overall process and has also taken the time to generate a survey that is given to staff to solicit suggestions about additional ways to improve the budget and process.  Kim’s hard work makes what could be a difficult process easier and one that values everyone’s input and ideas.
Brad Jackson

Brad Jackson
Pohick Bay Regional Park
Brad Jackson has achieved recognition in the areas of Safety and Responsiveness.  Brad, recognizing a significant need, took on the challenge of reorganizing the parking within Camp Wilson to address customer confusion about where to park and overall safety of the site.  Brad’s plan provided a safer environment by clearly defining parking locations, and in the process created a better overall camping experience for our NOVA Parks customers.

Debbie Patterson

Debbie Patterson
Debbie Patterson has achieved recognition in the area of Customer Service.  Debbie has quickly adjusted to the demands of the NOVA Parks budget process and has added to its success.  Debbie has displayed a willingness to assist with any questions or explanations but has also been a part of implementing new ways to get information out quickly to staff.  A great example of this was her assistance in providing completed budget pages at the conclusion of each budget meeting.  Doing this gave everyone an immediate snapshot of the changes and even provided a head start on the entry for the final document.  

Kathy Brooks
Kathy Brooks has achieved recognition in the areas of Versatility and Team Player.  Kathy has willingly taken on the challenge of becoming an expert in the development and implementation of our agency’s new point of sale system.  Kathy has worked exceptionally hard to develop a deep understanding of the systems capabilities and functions as they relate to the needs of NOVA Parks, and she has actively assumed the role of in-house trainer and go-to staff member for all questions related to the new system.