Tag Archives: pbcparks

Park and Recreation Month: We are Parks and Recreation

In honor of Park and Recreation Month 2020, PBC Parks is celebrating the theme, “We are Parks and Recreation” by spotlighting the countless staff who provide essential services to help make their communities better places to live, work and play. Below, you can read about some of the dedicated staff who help build a sense of community and contribute to the wellbeing of the park system every day through programs, day-to-day operations and exceptional customer service!

Mary Annalora

Mary Annalora has been a PBC Park employee for 10 months. She is a Senior Secretary for our Aquatics Division. Some tasks she is responsible for under normal operations and during COVID-19 include, answering many incoming calls with extra questions on COVID-19. She has acted as a liaison with permitee’s obtaining necessary CDC guidelines and COVID-19 parent releases for Aquatics summer camps. When our administration building was closed to the public, she retrieved regular mail to process boat permits, forwarding to customer service staff. She also scans and processes documents, payroll for approval and forwards information to other departments.

Some feedback she has received from visitors includes, people expressing their joy to be able to walk through the parks again or just sit and read. Besides questions on the parks, people usually want to tell her about their family outings they are planning. The friendly voice of wishing people a fun time and telling them to enjoy their day goes a long way!

How she feels her job impacts the community and visitor experiences inside PBC Parks: “Although we have a great website, people still like the one-on-one phone call contact to answer their questions. I do my best to provide extra information such as how to navigate the website and handy phone numbers for other departments. I have listened with a sympathetic ear from people who wish to vent regarding COVID-19 rules and issues. I have always been thanked when our call has ended.”

Rich Fleming

Rich Fleming has been a PBC Park employee for 29.5 years. He is a Recreation Specialist III at our CMAA Therapeutic Recreation Complex with our Recreation Services Division. Some tasks he is responsible for under normal operations and during COVID-19 include, directing the Special Olympics Program in Palm Beach County with close to 2,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities. This includes fund raising, public relations and together with staff, they coordinate training, competitions and local program initiatives throughout the County. Under COVID-19, he had some limited involvement in virtual programming and engagement while staff have handled their County duties and coordinated our mission and efforts. 

Some ways he sees visitors enjoying our parks and taking advantage of the benefits of the park system is, the many athletes that come out to train and compete in our Parks and related facilities. From utilizing the County pools to train and compete in swimming, the Golf Courses to practice and compete in golf skills and on-course play, the tennis courts to train in tennis skills, singles and doubles. The County Park waterways are utilized to sail, stand up paddle, surf and open water swim as well the T-Rec Center Gym for volleyball and basketball. Through the County Parks, as part of the partnership with Special Olympics, the benefits our athletes receive are endless. 

How he feels his job impacts the community and visitor experiences inside PBC Parks: “I feel that we are making a difference in the lives of our athletes and families every day as we provide a platform for sports training and athletic competitions for people with disabilities. I feel that we provide the opportunity for participation in sports in a safe and fair environment where the athletes can reach their goals and be excited about their accomplishments. Volunteers get exposure and fulfillment in assisting our athletes strive for success. When you come out to support, coach or volunteer with Special Olympics, you truly witness the passion of sports!”

The Parks & Recreation professionals in the Therapeutic Recreation Section provide a valuable and much needed service for people with disabilities within the community. Our section offers programs in a variety of recreational areas such as sports, arts, social and therapeutic for all types of disabilities. The comprehensive nature of our programming and the specialize training of our staff creates an environment of inclusion and acceptance for all. Our staff are well respected in the field as well as in the community. 

Ryan Gilbert

Ryan Gilbert has been a PBC Park employee for 16 years. He is the Special Olympics Manager of Sports and Training at the Special Olympics Gym or our CMAA Therapeutic Recreation Complex with our Recreation Services Division. Some tasks he is responsible for under normal operations and during COVID-19 include being in constant contact with his Special Olympic Coaches and their amazing Special Olympic Athletes. Special Olympics PBC offers 17 sports for their athletes to compete in throughout the year. So with that many sports going on, they have quite a bit of cross-over. Since COVID-19, he’s had the opportunity to do some park/beach monitoring, take the temperature of his co-workers in the a.m., and help out with garbage clean up around the TR complex!

Some ways he sees visitors enjoying our parks and taking advantage of the benefits of the park system is, during county park monitoring when the parks opened again to the public, he could really tell how happy people were to be able to get back out to the parks. He knows the heart trail was packed and people were excited to get outside and exercise again, but also did good job social distancing. The same goes for the beach monitoring, the patrons were so happy to get back out to the ocean and get their zen back!

How he feels his job impacts the community and visitor experiences inside PBC Parks: “our Special Olympics athletes take full advantage of a number of our county parks or facilities, our athletes use a couple of our county pools for training. Our S.O. softball teams compete and train at John Prince Park Softball Fields. We have 3 teams that train here at our Special Olympics Gym, and one other group trains at West Boynton Rec. Center. We have an amazing sailing program at Okeeheelee Park. And finally our Special Olympics golf program trains and competes at Okeeheelee Golf Course. I would like to thank all of those municipalities for making a difference and giving our athletes an amazing place to train, compete, and grow. ”

Julia Leo

Julia Leo has been a PBC Park employee for 31 years. She is an Ocean Rescue Chief for our Aquatics/Ocean Rescue Division. Some tasks she is responsible for under normal operations and during COVID-19 include, managing and evaluating Ocean Rescue services, operation, staffing, and training, ensuring Ocean Rescue districts have sufficient staffing, equipment, facilities, and communication flow between staff, administration, and the public.

Some ways she sees visitors enjoying our parks and taking advantage of the benefits of the park system is whether standing, sitting or walking, people at the beach explore. They explore creatures in and out of the water. They recreate by swimming, wading, surfing, fishing, kayaking, SUP, running, snorkeling, sun bathing, meeting with friends, bird watching, watching sunrises, etc.

How she feels her job impacts the community and visitor experiences inside PBC Parks: “patrons visit the beach to relax, exercise, and relieve stress. The lifeguard staff prevents catastrophic injuries, and educates visitors on dangerous ocean and environmental conditions. Patrons feel safe knowing that a well-trained equipped Ocean Rescue lifeguard is ready to respond to any water or medical emergency. Visitors experience joy and make memories.”

Nicki Murphy

Nicki Murphy has been a PBC Park employee for 20 years. She is a Financial Analyst II for our Finance & Support Services Division. Some tasks she is responsible for under normal operations and during COVID-19 include, procurement manager and supervision of staff, department liaison with purchasing, finance, OEBO, etc.

Some ways she sees visitors enjoying our parks and taking advantage of the benefits of the park system is when she is driving around and sees a family tossing a frisbee or kids laughing & playing in a splashpad. She finds satisfaction knowing that “because you do your job, others in the community can enjoy our parks.”

How she feels her job impacts the community and visitor experiences inside PBC Parks: “we strive to do our jobs and fulfill orders so that others can do their jobs well. This includes getting supplies from paperclips to sand, and services from janitorial through maintenance & repair of water park slides, etc.”

Daggerwing Nature Center Volunteer awarded Annual Scott Cowan Memorial Scholarship

Megan Mui, recipient of 2020 Scott Cowan Memorial Scholarship.

Friends of Daggerwing Nature Center, Inc. (FOD) announced the 2020 Scott Cowan Memorial Scholarship has been awarded to Megan Mui.

 Megan has been a volunteer in the nature center’s gift shop since 2017 and has just graduated from North Broward Preparatory School, an AP Scholar with Distinction. She is also a 2020 National Merit winner. Megan will pursue a premed program at the University of South Florida. She plans a career in medical research in virology.

Initiated in 2017 by the Cowan family, FOD established this annual $500 scholarship to recognize outstanding student volunteers at Daggerwing Nature Center and promote their future educational goals. “We hope to both continue and expand our volunteer scholarship program to recognize and celebrate these young volunteers who make a valued contribution to our nature center”, said Edith Cowan, President of FOD, and mother of Scott Cowan for whom the scholarship is named.

Scholarship contributions to the Scott Cowan Memorial Fund can be donated to Friends of Daggerwing Nature Center, Inc.


Ocean Rescue Lifeguards Chase Robertson and Lex May showing proper social distancing while performing critically essential public servant functions.

During COVID-19 park closures, dedicated Ocean Rescue staff continue to perform their critical work. The following quote is from PBC Ocean Rescue Lifeguard Erik Pointer to Ocean Rescue Chief Julia Leo.

“Chief Leo, Just wanted to say that while working this week enforcing beach closures, I have observed many people outside of our guarded areas and some inside attempting to enter the ocean water.  Relying on 25 years of marine safety, ocean rescue, and personnel management, I believe that no matter what happens in our future, people, young and old, will continue in their pursuit to be outdoors and enter the ocean.  Based on my experience, we cannot leave these park beaches and communities here to fend for themselves in the ocean nor can we place that necessary responsibility on our Firefighters and/or Policemen & women.  During my duties, I was able to observe a large area of coastline and make contact with a lot of these patrons and using good social distancing, I was able to educate them on the new guidelines of beach closure and risks of entering the ocean alone without a lifeguard on duty.  We are the only ones out there for 10 hours per day that have the necessary advanced training in the unparalleled and high risk environment of ocean rescue and marine safety.”


Ralph Osgood and Dessilon Saint-Eloi unload a critical supply at the FitTeam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches drive-through testing center

Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department staff are constantly springing into action – on March 30, staff helped set up the COVID-19 testing site located at FitTeam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Staff helped with this tremendous effort by filling sandbags, positioning generators, making and delivering signage, among other tasks!

“We say it all year long – parks save lives – thank for stepping up again in our community’s time of need to make a difference.” -Jennifer Cirillo, pbcParks Assistant Director

Jackie Lambert and Rick Hedlund making sure they practice proper social distancing


Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation staff alongside the National Guard (one of our partners).

Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Public Service Professionals are helping to fill much-needed roles across the county during this challenging time of general park closures. Many staff members have ventured away from their typical park-related roles in order to assist where critically needed. Here are just some of the ways staff has been assisting through various emergency and community roles:

• Staff has been deployed through the EDRP to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), including Ocean Rescue EMTs who have been screening people entering the EOC per CDC guidelines

• Recreation Programs Supervisor Cliff Battles is also at the EOC and is adeptly handling many Logistics Section and municipal mission/resource requests

• Public Relations Specialist Bibi Baksh was activated to the EOC in the Public Information Unit and helped pull together the 4:00 P.M. press conference

• Several designated EOA members from throughout the Department have also been activated to help set-up the COVID-19 Drive-through Testing Site at Fit Team Ballpark of the Palm Beaches with the multiple partner agencies; the department’s sign shop is busy producing signs critical to this effort

• Several forklift drivers are assisting at the Countywide Staging Area (CSA) at the fairgrounds, where supplies from the State are coming in, being sorted and distributed to a prioritized list including hospitals, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, etc…

These roles are in addition to the thousands of less visible but critical ways staff makes a difference through answering questions, educating the public, securing parks, sharing social media experiences to provide for a moment of stress relief or to inform, maintaining natural habitats, and more.

mobile showers & animal care: pbcparks staff making a difference during covid-19

During these unprecedented times, Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department staff continue to work in various roles to serve the community. Here are just two visible examples of the amazing work that PBC Parks and Recreation professionals are up to during this challenging time of general park closure to public park use. 

A mobile shower unit in partnership with non-profit “Shower the People“ is visiting the John Prince Park homeless encampment twice a week starting Saturday, March 28 to help people in need with preventative hygiene needs. Additional hand washing stations were also installed. The Park Operations, Park Rangers, Trades, JPP Maintenance Team, Special Facilities Special Events Section, and Administration teams collaborated to make this happen in short order.

Our animal ambassadors continue to need care and Daggerwing Nature Center staff brought environmental education into homes of students and adults alike: great work, Sean, Lila, and Daggerwing staff! You can view daily feeding videos of the nature center’s animals on their Facebook page.

Power of Parks: Rachel Stauffer

Welcome to Power of Parks, a podcast produced by the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, where we share inspiring stories from people who have benefited from nature, parks and recreation.

Episode 10 features Rachel Stauffer, she’s a mom of three kids, a 7th generation Floridian and a children’s pastor who frequented parks as a child and with her kids. She reached out to PBC Parks for more information about opportunities for recreation to share with her community.