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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 Scott Henderson, the director of Parks and Recreation at Provo Parks and Recreation.

1. How did you get started in the community recreation industry?

Scott Henderson: While studying at Eastern Montana College, I started to work for campus intramural activities, and I also had experience working summers with the parks operations in Great Falls, Montana, during college. A position came open to be a program supervisor at the parks and recreation department — I must be very lucky, or it was a very shallow talent pool, because they hired me into the profession I still love to this day. Fifteen years later, I saw a position as recreation division director in Provo, Utah. I applied, was offered and accepted the position, and after the retirement of the department director, I now am honored to be the Provo Parks and Recreation director.

2.What’s been a key to your organization’s success? What are you most proud of? 

SH: We commit to continuous improvement at all levels. All leaders at the supervisor, manager and director levels commit to an epic, department-changing goal each January. A “what I did” meeting is then scheduled the following December to report on the completion of this goal. This meeting with staff is also attended by our mayor and city administrative leadership to highlight our skilled staff and emphasize accountability. Providing challenges like this to talented staff keeps the job exciting and interesting.

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

SH: I have been part of exciting projects as the project lead on an aquatics park, arts center, recreation center and Olympic ice arena venue. All of these facilities turned out to be award-winning efforts, providing residents state-of-the-art recreation facilities.

4. What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career? 

SH: Around 2010, during the most serious economic downturn in my government career experience, we were compelled to make major reductions in operations and workforce to do our part in balancing the overall city budget. Those were tough decisions, but that experience forever changed my management vision. This change of focus has made our department a leader in government efficiency for our municipal organization and on a national level. The moral of the story is challenges make us better.

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

SH: Always operate from the premise your citizens deserve the best parks and recreation services in their community. Base all your decisions on this ideal and you will dramatically change the quality of life in your community for the better.

6. Tell us one fact about yourself others may not know. 

SH: I come to work each day convinced I know what I will be doing and getting accomplished that day. Then the real world happens, with all the issues, interactions and emergencies, as soon as I arrive. My confession is that I like the variety of experiences, and I am addicted to the greatest job in the world.

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former editor of Community Rec Magazine.

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