July is Parks and Recreation Month across the nation. In addition to celebrating our independence during the month, and summer vacation, it’s the perfect time of year to think about how lucky we are to have nearby parks to enjoy, and all types of activities -- hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, wildlife watching -- available in our commonwealth.
Pennsylvanians own more than 6,000 community parks and 12,000 miles of trails in every nook and county. They are brought to you by counties, municipalities, and some non-profit organizations.
There also are 121 (award-winning!) state parks, with one within 25 miles of nearly every resident, and free to all. They are managed by DCNR.
And along with state and local parks are countless playgrounds, pools, beaches, campsites, marinas, picnic areas, athletic fields, skate parks, dog parks, festival venues, gardens, visitor centers, historic and cultural attractions, and many other recreational facilities and amenities. Wow!
Professionals Manage Parks and Recreation
Who takes care of all of these parks that enrich our communities, and provides the programming that helps us learn and have fun?
According to a proclamation by the General Assembly, park and recreation professionals:
- Bring life-enriching services to citizens of all ages and abilities
- Work to keep facilities clean, safe, and ready to use
- Strengthen community cohesion and resiliency, connect people with nature and each other
- Develop and manage a wide range of public programming, and provide and promote opportunities for healthy living, social equity, and environmental sustainability
U.S. Census Bureau data shows nearly 8,000 full- and part-time recreation and park employees work in Pennsylvania serving its 12.8 million residents.
Complemented by thousands of volunteers who serve on boards, committees, trails, friends and neighborhood groups, these dedicated individuals contribute significantly to the health, wellbeing, and quality of life for all ages.
The First Park and Recreation Professionals Day
July 19 is earmarked as the first Park and Recreation Professionals Day to honor the men and women who work tirelessly behind the scenes to provide the parks and recreation programs and facilities that we enjoy every day.
The Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society -- a statewide association providing professional development, leadership, and resources for those working and volunteering in the parks and recreation field -- encourages us to show some love for the people that keep these facilities safe, beautiful, welcoming, and fun.
How to Celebrate Local Parks and Recreation
As a tribute to your local parks and recreation providers, make a plan to visit a local or state park or recreation facility on July 19.
Take the time to meet and say thanks to a programmer, manager, maintainer, landscaper, facilitator, lifeguard, coach, event organizer, or caretaker.
Need some help finding a local park? There’s an explore PA local parks interactive map for that. It will also tell you about the trails, fields, courts, and bathrooms in those parks. Information about Pennsylvania state parks can be found on the DCNR website.