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Marilyn Jones

    Professional Certification Why Not?

    Professional Certification and membership are important aspects of our profession today. I think George Hardison of the Rock Island District said it best in an article he wrote several years ago, in which he made a distinction between a "job" and a "profession." I quote:

      Why should we pay our dues, spend our time at meetings, or be on a committee? My reply to this often asked questions is, you can't afford not to be involved. In my view, a "job" is a task performed for wages. A "profession," on the other hand, is a higher calling. What distinguishes recreational "professionals" from our sons and daughters that hold "jobs" flipping burgers at the local fast food eatery is our INVOLVEMENT in bettering our profession. This is accomplished by belonging to professional associations, reading their journals, and giving back to the profession.

    I agree with George about bettering my profession. I have been a member of the National Park and Recreation Association (NRPA) and the National Society of Park Resources (NSPR) for over 10 years. When offered the opportunity to become certified as a Certified Park and Recreation Professional, I jumped at the chance. What I have found since then is through keeping up the continuing education credits (CEUs) for the certification I have taken myself out of my comfort zone and broadened my horizons as a professional. My opportunities to network and get to know other professionals in the field of park management and recreation have grown tenfold. Through networking, I stay abreast of the current trends and ideas.

    You don't have to be involved. You don't have to do anything, but what better way to improve something than by being involved? Through my involvement with the National Society of Park Resources, a branch of NRPA, I have been able to keep abreast of legislation currently being presented to Congress; their vote, of course, will determine the inclusion or not in authorization and appropriation acts. Also, keeping up with current natural resources legislation is almost a must, because this affects the state, county, and city you work in and you need to be aware of opportunities where the Corps can assist these entities. And, any time you have the chance to read professional journals and other periodicals, you gain a vast amount of information that can keep you current.

    Over time, I have become even more involved. As a member of the NSPR Board of Directors, I have gotten to know individuals from the broadest spectrum of our profession. These individuals bring experience, expertise, and knowledge that can help further NSPR's natural resources endeavors and help me continue to learn and grow professionally.

    What does certification do for you? It provides more opportunity to learn and grow as a professional. It provides the opportunity to use new and proven innovative ideas to improve our ways of doing business. It brings you out of the box and allows you to share both personally and professionally. Certification is also another means to grasp the areas of our profession that could make the difference for you over another job applicant. Professional certification also opens doors to other professional opportunities outside the federal government. Think about it. Certification, opportunity, and professional growth. It all adds up to a great career!

    George also said, "To those of you who feel like second-class citizens, or feel like you are looked down upon by engineers and other professionals, I say grow up and smell the roses. Either get involved in your profession or just sit back and let it be nothing more than a 'job'."

    So what is holding you back from becoming a Certified Park and Recreation Professional? Check out You can't lose.

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