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The Importance of volunteers in parks, continued.

By Charlie McCabe

Last week, as part of our press release for the 2017 edition of City Park Facts, we touted a number of examples covering the growing role and importance of volunteers in parks in the 100 largest US city park systems. Given that we’re nearing the end of National Volunteer Week (Apr 23-29), we wanted to add another post in what will be an ongoing series on volunteers working in parks.

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Volunteers planning bulbs on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston

Today, we’ll take a quick look at how park conservancies are working with volunteers. As part of a master’s thesis in 2016, I looked at what were the best practices of organizing and managing a volunteer program. I studied nine different parks conservancies in Austin, Boston, Brooklyn and Houston. I found a number of common practices and methods used, which we’ll cover in a future set of posts.  But, like our findings on the impact of volunteer in our 100 largest US cities, I found substantial impact for these nine park conservancies.

First, it’s very important to stress that all of these organizations work in partnership with their local park agencies to achieve mutual goals. As Doreen Stoller, Executive Director of the Hermann Park Conservancy noted in our 2015 publication, Public Parks/Private Money: “the City of Houston has allowed Hermann Park Conservancy to perform many duties on its behalf. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that our work is ‘on its behalf.’”

So, what’s the impact?  I looked at five years worth of data from each of the park conservancies.  The results are impressive.

  • In 2012, 12,250 volunteers donated 44,668 hours worth $1.04M or 21.47 FTEs
  • in 2013, 16,836 volunteers donated 49,767 hours worth $1.21M or 23.9 FTEs
  • In 2014, 15,426 volunteers donated 53,688 hours worth $1.34M or 25.81 FTEs
  • In 2015, 16,098 volunteers donated 59,461 hours worth $1.55M or 28.58 FTEs
  • In 2016, 18,727 volunteers donated 67,541 hours worth $1.75M or 32.47 FTEs

Overall, during the five year period, 79,337 volunteers donated 275,125 hours worth $6.9M.

(The value of hours is calculated using data collected by Independent Sector, a non-profit that calculates the annual hourly value of donated labor by state. FTE stands for full-time equivalent or one person working fulltime, calculated as 2,080 hours a year or 40 hours per week times 52 weeks in a year.)

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Tree mulching demonstration at the start of volunteer workday, Pease Park, Austin.

In future posts, we’ll get into the details of what tasks volunteers tackle, how these non-profits organize and manage their volunteer programs, how they work with park agency and park conservancy staff and a host of other topics, including the origin of volunteers in our parks.

Further, one of our efforts in the coming year at the Center for City Park Excellence will be looking at park conservancies and their continued impacts alongside parks agencies in the 100 largest cities, we working to get a more complete picture of what all non-profits working in parks contribute in terms of funds, volunteer hours and “on the ground” work.

Note: The nine park conservancies studied in my thesis were: the Austin Parks Foundation, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, the Fort Greene Park Conservancy, the Hermann Park Conservancy, the Hill Country Conservancy (for the Violet Crown Trail, specifically) the Pease Park Conservancy, the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, and the Trail Foundation.

The Center for City Park Excellence is part of The Trust for Public Land, which creates parks and protects land for people. You can contact us at ccpe@tpl.org.

 

City park facts: Virgina Beach has five top ten rankings in 2017

Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation has five top ten rankings in the 2017 edition of City Park Facts

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The Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence works to make cities more successful through the renewal and creation of parks for their social, ecological, and economic benefits to residents and visitors alike. To achieve this mission, we believe that residents, advocates, park professionals, planners, members of the media, decision-makers, and all those who love parks need solid data that elucidates the realities of urban park and recreation systems. Data is knowledge, and knowledge is power.

Virginia Beach is one the 100 largest US cities and ranked number 3 overall in the 2016 edition of Parkscore.  But, more exciting is its individual rankings in five out of the twenty categories that we are tracking:

  • #5 (tie) – 4.2 Playgrounds per 10,000 residents
  • #2 – 3.1 Beaches per 100,000 residents (14)
  • #7 (4-way tie) – 1.1 Nature centers per 100,000 residents (5)
  • #8– 0.8 Pickleball courts per 20,000 residents (18)
  • #9– 3.5 Tennis courts per 10,000 residents (161)

City Park Facts is a collaboration between the many city, county, state and nonprofit parks agencies and conservancies that work with us to submit their data and we appreciate their continued help and involvement. The staff of the Center for City Park Excellence works to present this information in a thorough yet easy-to-use format, and your feedback is important for future editions. You can contact us at ccpe@tpl.org.

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come.  Millions of people live near a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.  To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.

 

 

City park facts: Washington DC has five top ten rankings in 2017

Parks in Washington, DC  has five top ten rankings in the 2017 edition of City Park Facts. Parks are operated and maintained by variety of agencies, including the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, the National Park Service and a number of non-profit organizations.

The Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence works to make cities more successful through the renewal and creation of parks for their social, ecological, and economic benefits to residents and visitors alike. To achieve this mission, we believe that residents, advocates, park professionals, planners, members of the media, decision-makers, and all those who love parks need solid data that elucidates the realities of urban park and recreation systems. Data is knowledge, and knowledge is power.

Omaha is one the 100 largest US cities and ranked number 3 overall in the 2016 edition of Parkscore.  But, more exciting is its individual rankings in five out of the twenty categories that we are tracking:

  • #3 (tie) – 97% of population within a 10-minute walk to a park
  • #3 – 2.3 Recreation/Senior Centers per 20,000 residents (75)
  • #2 – 3.5 Community Garden Plots per 1,000 residents (2300)
  • #4 – 5.3 Swimming pools per 100,000 residents (35)
  • #10 – 3.6 Splash pads per 100,000 residents (24)

City Park Facts is a collaboration between the many city, county, state and nonprofit parks agencies and conservancies that work with us to submit their data and we appreciate their continued help and involvement. The staff of the Center for City Park Excellence works to present this information in a thorough yet easy-to-use format, and your feedback is important for future editions. You can contact us at ccpe@tpl.org.

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come.  Millions of people live near a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.  To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.

City park facts: Seattle has five top ten rankings in 2017

The Seattle Park Parks and Recreation Department has five top ten rankings in the 2017 edition of City Park Facts.

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The Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence works to make cities more successful through the renewal and creation of parks for their social, ecological, and economic benefits to residents and visitors alike. To achieve this mission, we believe that residents, advocates, park professionals, planners, members of the media, decision-makers, and all those who love parks need solid data that elucidates the realities of urban park and recreation systems. Data is knowledge, and knowledge is power.

Seattle is one the 100 largest US cities and ranked number 13 overall in the 2016 edition of Parkscore.  But, more exciting is its individual rankings in five out of the twenty categories that we are tracking:

  • #8 (tie) – 93% of population within a 10-minute walk to a park
  • #4 in spending per resident – $252 total, $204 operating, $47 capital (all per resident)
  • #9-two way tie – 1.3 Beaches per 100,000 residents (9)
  • #5 – 1.7 Community Garden Plots per 1,000 residents (1113)
  • #6 (tie) – 1.6 skateboard parks per 100,000 residents (11)

City Park Facts is a collaboration between the many city, county, state and nonprofit parks agencies and conservancies that work with us to submit their data and we appreciate their continued help and involvement. The staff of the Center for City Park Excellence works to present this information in a thorough yet easy-to-use format, and your feedback is important for future editions. You can contact us at ccpe@tpl.org.

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come.  Millions of people live near a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.  To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.

City park facts: Cleveland Parks has six top ten rankings in 2017

Cleveland Parks has six top ten rankings in the 2017 edition of City Park Facts.

The Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence works to make cities more successful through the renewal and creation of parks for their social, ecological, and economic benefits to residents and visitors alike. To achieve this mission, we believe that residents, advocates, park professionals, planners, members of the media, decision-makers, and all those who love parks need solid data that elucidates the realities of urban park and recreation systems. Data is knowledge, and knowledge is power.

Cleveland is one the 100 largest US cities and ranked number 43 overall (tied with Boise, Colorado Springs, and Norfolk) in the 2016 edition of Parkscore.  But, more exciting is its individual rankings in six out of the twenty categories that we are tracking:

  • #6 -6.0 Basketball hoops per 10,0000 residents (230)
  • #6 -3.7 Ball Diamonds per 10,000 residents (142)
  • #9 ( tie) – 1.3 Beaches per 100,000 residents (5)
  • #1 – 10.9 Swimming pools per 100,000 residents (42)
  • #4 – 7.0 Splash pads per 100,000 residents (27)
  • #7 – 54.4 restrooms per 100,000 residents (209)

Two organizations manage the parks and public spaces in and around the city of Cleveland. The city of Cleveland has both park and recreation divisions within its Department of Public Works. Cleveland Metroparks is a separate organization that owns and manages parks and open space in the greater Cleveland Metro area.

City Park Facts is a collaboration between the many city, county, state and nonprofit parks agencies and conservancies that work with us to submit their data and we appreciate their continued help and involvement. The staff of the Center for City Park Excellence works to present this information in a thorough yet easy-to-use format, and your feedback is important for future editions. You can contact us at ccpe@tpl.org.