January 2019 Spotlight Professional

Chad Harvell, Recreation Coordinator, City of Tumwater 

Describe the scope of your position in parks and recreation.   

As a Recreation Coordinator with the City of Tumwater my responsibilities include, planning; administering; and conducting recreational programs, classes, athletic, special events, and sports leagues as part of a comprehensive recreation plan. Other duties include organizing and assisting divisional staff with other assignments and projects. Working with local community organizations and businesses to support the work we do is also a part of my position.

How long have you been with your present agency? 

I’ve been with the City of Tumwater for 6 months. 

Background experience and previous careers?

I have held various leadership roles within WRPA. Past Section Chair of the Athletic and Fitness Section, Chair of the Risk Management School, and current WRPA Board Member. Serving as your Southwest Regional Director, I am actively engaging the Networks within the organization to better serve our membership.

I currently hold my certification as a Certificated Youth Sports Administrator or CYSA. After graduating college from Eastern Washington University in 2007 with a degree in Recreation Management GO EAGS, I completed an internship which lead me to working for Washington State Parks as a Park Aide. In 2008, I started my career as a recreation coordinator and have continued to grow and be challenged over the last 10 years. In July of 2018, I joined the Parks and Recreation team with the City of Tumwater. I am thrilled to see where my journey will take me.

What were some of your first jobs, and what did you learn from them?

My first job was at Pick-Rite Thriftway in my home town of Montesano. I was hired to do routine maintenance. I knew the majority of the customers who came to shop. I had a relationship with the customers I served and I would find tasks of cleaning the floor enjoyable because I was able to connect with them as I did my work.

In my role, I learned three valuable traits I still use to this day: Everyone matters (employees and the customer); how to communicate; and the satisfaction of putting in a day's work.

Why are you passionate about the parks and recreation field?

Every one of us has a gift to share. For me, it’s the connection to people. Growing up in a small community where I had the opportunity to explore the world around me, engage in organized sports, and find that connection with people. That’s what parks and recreation has allowed me to do.

I have been blessed to meet lifelong friends, change lives of our patron’s (one program at a time), be involved, and learn all aspect of the industry as I can while keeping relationships connected daily. For me that is passion, parks, people, and recreation.

What has been your biggest professional challenge? 

Like most of us, it’s finding the resources and how to use them within the community I serve. Accepting the challenges and thinking outside the box is crucial. Making sure we are doing everything we can to protect the dollars entrusted to us by our patrons and when to take a risk to better their lives.

In the last couple of years, I have learned what it means in finding a good balance between work and home. We need to be present in both places for those who need us the most. Take time, rest, trust, and do the best you can do. This is a work in progress, but one lesson I am happy to figure out now.

What’s the best advice you can give to someone starting out in the field of parks and recreation? 

Be proactive! Find ways to get involved, ask questions, and do not be afraid to take chances. Taking a chance could be the opportunity you have always been waiting for.

Care for people! The work you do is about serving others both internal, external, and colleagues you meet. Building these relationships is key as you watch your journey unfold.

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