City’s Parks & Rec leading national discussion

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National parks and recreation officials are learning about an urban ecology program Covington conducted in 2017 with students from Holmes High School that focused on water quality.

COVINGTON, Ky. - When parks and recreation officials around the nation tune in for an online seminar Wednesday, their eyes (and ears) will be focused on Covington. 

Covington's Parks & Recreation Manager, Rosie Santos, is one of three panelists who will lead the discussion on how to engage communities in advancing park access and quality.
 
Santos said the attention recognizes the City's success in collaborating to find out how best to use the green space and waterways with which this area is blessed, and how to use those features to help solve pressing issues.
 
"Covington is uniquely positioned because we have incredible natural assets we can leverage, and we have such an engaged group of people working with us," Santos said. "Those two factors enable us to do creative, innovative things that professionals around the country are interested in not only learning about but also emulating."
 
The hour-long online seminar - called a "webinar" - is sponsored by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), a professional advocacy organization that claims 60,000 members.
 
Santos will be joined by the director of a youth enrichment project for the Puyallup tribe in Washington and the athletics administrator from Clayton County in Georgia.
 
She'll be talking about an urban ecology work study program that Covington sponsored in summer 2017. Using an NRPA grant, the City worked with four students from Holmes High School to sponsor community engagement activities that focused on the use of green infrastructure as a solution to issues regarding water quality and stormwater drainage.
 
The program culminated in a public workshop during which the students presented a project proposal to benefit the Licking River Greenway and Trails.
 
The Parks & Recreation Division will undertake a similar program in summer 2019, Santos said.
 
The City will hire four high school students from schools in Covington to participate in a paid work-study experience throughout the month of June. The program will be supervised by two Americorps members the City is sponsoring through a grant-supported partnership with the Kentucky Environmental Education Council.
 
The goal is to provide job training and leadership development to more Covington youth, as well as address crucial services in the parks such as invasive species removal and trail and garden maintenance, Santos said.
 
Ken Smith, director of Covington's Neighborhood Services Department, praised Santos and her team's work and said the national attention was welcome.
 

"We're being held up as an innovative City, one that not only believes in engaging its residents but also knows how to do so successfully - essentially a leader in this field," Smith said.

More information on Wednesday’s webinar can be found HERE.

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Covington Parks & Recreation Manager Rosie Santos. Photo by Jesse Byerly.