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Celebrating Parks and Recreation Month: Where Community Grows

Since 1985, people in the United States have celebrated Parks and Recreation Month in July to promote building strong, vibrant, and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation and to recognize these professionals and the work they continue to do.

This year, the theme for Parks and Recreation Month is “Where Community Grows.” The focus is on honoring the crucial role played by parks and recreation professionals in uniting people, offering essential services, and fostering the growth and development of our communities. Through their efforts, they contribute significantly to the well-being and interconnectedness of the areas they serve.

McGill staff met with Nate Halubka, a project consultant for our land planning and recreation team for his thoughts on this valued profession. As a project consultant, Nate helps analyze and write comprehensive and site-specific master plans. He helps local governments understand what their needs are for the future and spends most of his time as a key liaison with local government officials to hear firsthand what their challenges are, and how McGill can help move their community forward.

Hky land planning team pond 2 h glenn hilton park 05 2019
Members of the Land Planning and Recreation Team

Nate has assisted in helping communities receive grant funding for myriad projects, including preparing Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant applications for local communities, and more. To make a project run smoothly and stay on track and budget, Nate says there are several things to account for before even getting started on a project.

Building a Great Parks and Recreation Project

“To stay at the top of your game, you have to keep up with regional and national trends. In many ways, I feel like we are pushing the envelope and leading with said trends. Jim Ford [a planner for the land planning and recreation team] and I had the chance to present at the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Directors Conference this past year. We had a session that was well-attended, where we had the chance to share some ideas with other parks and recreation professionals from across North Carolina. Many of them hadn’t seen some of the cutting edge efforts that we have been making. So that’s affirming. We are always on the look for what is next so that we can help guide these communities we work with,” Nate says.

Nate mentions the struggles that can also come with projects and their needs. He says that oftentimes there are several different federal funding sources that are required in a project, and how some people struggle with understanding the interplay between them.

“A strength McGill has is knowing how grants can compliment others and knowing what their strengths and weaknesses are. Both LuAnn Bryan [a project consultant on the land planning and recreation team] and I have the chance to work with the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF), and a number other grants that the state offers. Our intimate knowledge of those funds and grants really helps put our clients in a very good spot to understand how they can move their capital projects forward,” Nate states.

Growing in the Profession

Nate says he has a few favorite projects he has worked on during his time at McGill. One is a current project with Davie County on a comprehensive master plan update. He says it is a positive experience working with the County because they are recognizing that their community is growing and the potential they have to move this community forward toward sustainable infrastructure and lifestyles.

Nate halubka, project consultant
Nate Halubka, Project Consultant

McGill has helped him grow in his profession but also personally.

“One of the things that, and this is for me personally, is trying to find better ways of doing things, and having the chance to be a part of that journey for the clients and McGill. Being able to help communities like Davie County, while helping our efficiency and making sure we are doing everything we can to be good stewards of the contracts and relationships that we have in hand is a very fulfilling thing for me,” Nate says.

Nate says he celebrates Parks and Recreation month everyday with his colleagues and looks forward to seeing what they do next as a team.

“One thing I really appreciate about our fantastic team is the chance we all have to give our opinion and imagine each member’s vision on each project. Mike Norris [the Director of Land Planning and Recreation] does a very good job of letting everybody give input so that you know you have a fingerprint on the projects we work on. I have an incredibly rewarding job. Being able to see a project that I had a hand in from start to finish, in person, is something that I don’t take for granted. I’ve been working in parks and recreation for about 20 years now. I remember starting out as a recreation coordinator working for planning recreation programs and mowing ditches in a park in Lincolnton, NC. Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to help completely redesign that same park I started off mowing ditches in. You can’t get any better perspective seeing something from literal grassroots to a completely redesigned and more efficient park,” Nate says.

What Parks and Recreation Month Means to Nate

“I love the fact that the work we do is impacting the quality of people’s lives and the communities they call home. Parks and other recreational facilities are where a lot of people spend time with their families, friends, and loved ones. We help make their lives more enjoyable, and the fact that there is an entire month dedicated toward our efforts and that it is worth something paying attention to is gratifying,” Nate states.

McGill is grateful to have people like Nate and everyone else in our incredible land planning and recreation team. This month is about celebrating everything they do to better the lives of people in local communities and around the Southeast. McGill recognizes the amazing efforts this team makes, and the work we all do to help communities grow and shape them together.


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