July Spotlight Professional

Robin Pittman, Manson Parks & Recreation District Director

Describe the scope of your position in parks and recreation.   

I was recently hired as Director of the Manson Park & Recreation District. My job is to plan, organize, and direct the policies and procedures adopted by the Manson Park District’s Board of Commissioners. As the Director of a very unique park district, the scope of my position varies throughout the year. Some of my responsibilities include budget development and management, research and project planning, public relations, and personnel management. I supervise a maintenance crew, lifeguards, campground host, and office staff. Together, we work to ensure an exceptional park & recreation experience for all who utilize our grounds and facilities.

How long have you been with your present agency? 

I have been with Manson Park & Recreation District since November of 2015. I started as Office Manager and was hired as Interim Director in October of 2016. I applied for the Director position in December 2016 and was hired in March of 2017.

Background experience and previous careers?

I graduated from Manson High School in 2002 and then from Central Washington University in 2006. I have worked as a camp counselor, interior designer, park aide, inside sales rep for a lighting company, and now in the park and recreation field.

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

I have worked in a wide range of jobs. During college, I held a variety of summer jobs including park aide, camp counselor, and interior design assistant. I loved the park aide and camp counselor jobs because I was able to work outdoors while making a difference in people’s lives. The park aide position provided me with a behind-the-scenes understanding of how park systems work, and also a general understanding of the people who use the parks. Every person is different, but many of the expectations remain the same. Everyone wants (and deserves) clean grounds/facilities, excellent customer service, and lasting memories from the parks they frequent. The interior design field was enjoyable, however, it quickly became clear to me that my heart was not in work that was so entirely indoor-focused. On any given day, I’d prefer to spend time at a park or in my own backyard than be inside. The mental, emotional, and physical benefits are endless and I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve in a field that supports and encourages those beliefs.

Why are you passionate about the parks and recreation field?

I always used to envy those people who, from age 5, knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. I didn’t know what I wanted to be until I was hired at Manson Parks. It didn’t take long for me to realize that parks and recreation is my happy place. Even as the office manager, I felt like I was home. Then I was given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve as the director of Manson Parks. I’m in a place where I can help people, make a difference in the community I grew up in, and share my passion for the outdoors with others. I’m not one of those people who has a specialized outdoor hobby. I’m not a backwoods hiker or a kayaker or a rock climber. I simply love being outdoors and enjoying all that nature has to offer. And that’s the great thing about parks & recreation. I get to help provide a place for nature lovers, kayakers, and hikers alike. Any person at any age, shape, or size can benefit from time spent outdoors. It truly doesn’t get much better than this! A lot of people head to the park when they get off work, which is awesome! I am fortunate enough to head to the park when I go to work, which is even better!

What has been your biggest professional challenge? 

The opportunity to serve as a director came unexpectedly after the previous director left Manson Parks to pursue another career in the industry. Being so new has meant that I have had to learn a lot on my own. As anyone in the field knows, there is a LOT to learn! This challenge is ongoing but has been unbelievably rewarding.

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

CARE! If you always care about what you’re doing, you will always do your best and provide the best product you can. You don’t have to be perfect. If you care about the people you serve and the parks and recreation facilities you maintain, everything else will fall into place.