Tag Archives: Staff

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.”

testing site set-up:PBCPARKS STAFF MAKING A DIFFERENCE DURING COVID-19

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

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.

West Boynton Recreation Staff Helps Students Gain Employment Experience

A group of Park Vista High School student volunteers gain valuable work experience at WBRC

Since 2018, staff at West Boynton Recreation Center have been welcoming students from Park Vista High School to the facility to provide valuable job training experience. It began in August 2018 with an off-campus job training program, and has since transitioned to include ESE students from the school. The students range from ages 18 to 22 years old. The program currently has up to three students per day, everyday.

“The purpose of the program is for our students to have another ‘boss’ outside of the classroom… they get to experience employer expectations, interact with the community, and learn skills that cannot be taught on a high school campus,” said Melia Videtta, Park Vista High School ESE teacher. The goal is to not only help students get a feel for what it’s like to go to work, but also to raise their self-esteem and create a sense of excitement for the tasks.

“The students are excited to go to work,” said Ogden Powell, Job Trainer for the Palm Beach County School District. He recalled, “some students have mastered some tasks and are able to work without supervision.” The tasks include window cleaning, sweeping, mopping, and setting up rooms with tables and chairs.

West Boynton Recreation Center Maintenance Worker Carlos Jerez headed up the initiative. He trained the students, supervised, and assigned tasks when the program was at it’s initial stages at the recreation center. Powell recalled, “Mr. Carlos is great with the students.”

Overall, the experience has been welcoming and productive for all the participants. “Everyone is so nice, helpful, and patient with our students… the people at the Rec center are flexible and open-minded,” said Videtto. Travis McPheeters, manager of WBRC, expressed his gratitude for working with the students and faculty at Park Vista High School. “We are thrilled with this partnership we have forged with PVHS,” he said.

Staff plant Farmstead Garden at Riverbend Park

dsc_0025_edited

The farmstead at Riverbend Park is home to a sawmill, sugarcane press, and now a garden. The farmstead garden is a recent project between park staff Michael Sylvester, Dane Rypma, Cretzer Barthelus and Kyle Krakow and Palm Beach County Extension, Arthur Kirstein. The plants were donated by PBC Extension and park staff planted them and continues upkeep of the garden. Tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, Swiss Chard lettuce and eggplant are currently in the garden.

dsc_0037_editedThe garden is designed to represent a late 19th century to early 20th century garden that a family would have for subsistence. The plants were typically grown in “hills” – soil brought up around the base of the plants – which made weeding and watering easier and more efficient. In addition to this, there is an heirloom variety of cane on the farm. The earlier cane was a chewing cane. Cane like this had to be crushed, strained, boiled and rendered down and could be made into a number of different products and sold.

The farmstead interprets a period that runs from the latter 1800’s to the 1930’s. Certain areas on the property were cleared for the growing of citrus. The area became known for the quality of the oranges that came out of it. Later, cattle were a focus. (ie: Cowpen’s Lake.)