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In The Last Word, we sit down with an industry expert to share their wealth of knowledge with you. This issue, the conversation features Beth Kennerhed, the center executive of the Green Bay YMCA.

How did you get your start in the industry?

BK: I started as a gymnastics coach when I was in high school. Through college and the years after, working with kids in sports was a great side job. I didn’t really consider it as a career until the YMCA at which I was working part-time lost its health and wellness director, and I was asked to apply. It was a good fit at the time, and I fell in love with helping people meet their health and wellness goals.

How would you go about describing recreation at your rec center?

BK: As with most YMCAs, our recreation is diverse and widespread. Our organization tries to meet the needs of a wide range of interests both inside our four walls and out in the community. Our scope ranges from coffee, cards and trips for our seniors, to adult basketball, group exercise classes and swim programs for active adults, to youth sports and events for preschoolers. We host block parties for the community at each of our centers during summer, as well as events tied to Halloween and New Year’s. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I like to think if there is a need in the community we are not already meeting, we will create something to fill the gap.

What has been one of the biggest accomplishments of your career?

BK: In my career with the YMCA, I am most proud of how I have been able to help our program offerings grow and evolve as the community changes. We definitely have competition in our community for members and program participants, but determining what is our niche, expanding on it, and showing the community the value we offer has been the most rewarding.

What is one challenge you have faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?

BK: When I am passionate about my work, it tends to consume me – finding time to spend with family is something I have to plan into my day. Since the YMCA is not a 9 to 5 type of job, and luckily, very family-friendly, I have been able to work a creative schedule to accommodate both odd work hours, and important family events like attending my children’s activities.

What is one lesson you have learned that other recreation professionals can learn from?

BK: Network, network, network. Share ideas with others and use those ideas to enhance what you are doing. The best recreation facilities are constantly looking for feedback on how to improve, tweak or completely revamp what they are doing to best serve their community.

Tell us one fun fact others may not know about you.

BK: Most people may not agree about this, but winter is my favorite season. I love to be outside skiing or playing in the snow with my kids.

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former editor of Community Rec Magazine.

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