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2020 RivCoParks All-Staff Conference

Question:

Why doesn't the team of mountain parks receive a winter/waterproof clothing issue?

How come mountain parks doesn't have extra uniform money for winter gear, IE waterproof jackets, better shoes, and all the money spent on thermals?


Answer:

Each park/site supervisor has the ability to budget for necessary uniforms, including jackets/waterproof clothing if it’s deemed necessary to perform essential job duties.

Currently, the MOU identifies the amount allocated for uniforms, as well as the items eligible for reimbursement. This can only be changed through a negotiation between the County and the union.


Question:

Will you be getting your hands dirty to see how the field works?


Answer:

Each member of our Executive Team comes from a different background and have had different experiences, many of which included getting our hands dirty and seeing first-hand how the field operations work. Collectively, when we don’t fully understand an issue or need to see an operation to help solve a problem, yes, we will be visiting and likely, getting our hands dirty. Unfortunately, our primary duties don’t always allow us to spend time in the field… though certainly we’d rather be outdoors – and in the dirt – than stuck in an office.


Question:

[Will RivCoParks] promote better on social media?


Answer:

Use of social media is a key aspect of promoting parks and our services. The short answer to this question is yes. In fact, you may already be seeing an increase in posts on all our social media platforms:

https://twitter.com/rivcoparks

https://www.facebook.com/rivcoparkshq/

https://www.instagram.com/rivcoparks/

https://www.rivcoparks.org/blog

We are currently revising the Marketing and Community Relations plan with the intention of being more active across all platforms in the future.


Question:

How come only interpretive department got a free trip to Yosemite and not Regional Parks Open Space department?


Answer:

First, the trip was not free. The District paid for some of the trip and some was paid directly by staff. The trip was spent specifically looking at effective methods for interpretation and education, including a look at displays, signage and collections.

Second, ongoing education and staying up to date on trends has been important to our agency. For some staff, attending trainings or conferences helps meet that need. In others, on site visits to other state of the art operations is a good option. If you are interested in a specific method of learning, work with your supervisor to determine if the option is feasible and the best use of our resources at that time.

NOTE: At this time all travel and training that is not required to maintain licenses or certificates is ON HOLD due to the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19). This will not likely change before FY 21/22 without the current context significantly changing.


Question:

How come the nature center is closed during the holidays while everyone is working?


Answer:

Operations of all sites (parks, nature centers, historic museums, recreation facilities) are determined by use and demand of guests. We are a customer driven organization and people want to use parks (camp, hike, fish, and picnic, etc.) on weekends and holidays. Ultimately, we are here to serve our customers.


Question:

Will we be able to cite in the future for violations?


Answer:

Yes; that is the goal. We are working with County Counsel to update Ordinance 328 and hope to issue citations in the near future.


Question:

How come rangers do not get a title 22 first aid training for major medical emergencies? (IE trauma bags, for trucks) on several occasions I have come across vehicles or persons injured along the highways and had just a basic first aid kit to try to assist.


Answer:

Currently, “Title 22” first aid training is not required for our positions/classifications.


Question:

What are your plans for Parks and Open Space?


Answer:

Well, this is a complicated answer, especially now that we’ve been impacted so dramatically by the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. Plans for the immediate future include remaining mission-focused and operating within budget. Looking farther out, I hope that we can refine our strategy as an agency to ensure we are helping preserve and maintain parks/open-space areas for the long-term benefit of Riverside County and its residence/visitors. This will require a new fiscal strategy that helps us remain responsive and effective. Expect more on this in the coming months as we come to be more certain about the outcome of COVID-19 on the District overall.


Question:

What are the goals you have set in your new role as GM?


Answer:

Specific goals include fiscal sustainability for our agency, responsiveness to our guest/visitor needs (aka Outstanding Service), and developing a new strategy to assist with decision making about acquisition/disposition of land, development of parks and trails, maintenance of our current assets, and protection of resources.


Question:

What is your management style?


Answer:

I strive to be a “servant leader” and believe strongly in coaching/mentoring others. I also strive to be a “democratic leader” when possible, getting input from others, especially because our workforce is so varied in terms of resources and location.

It is important to manage the balance of providing both strong leadership and open collaboration, and consistently evaluate if the executive team has this balance right. As we continue to grow it is important to regularly look for new ways to be innovative and improve upon weaknesses through training and education.


Question:

What are your biggest concerns regarding change and the park [District]?


Answer:

Kyla: My biggest concerns regarding change is to make sure we are effectively communicating so everyone understands what the change is, what it means, and what their specific role is.

Erin: The District needs a strong Mission and Vision that all of our employees identify with and carry out as part of work every day. This requires our leadership to listen and collaborate with all of staff to make sure that we get it right. It is my sincere believe that all of us as employees will work hard for something we believe in, something beyond a paper vision. I share concern that our financial security with sustainable funding sources needs to become a primary focus so that we can weather whatever type of storm may come our way.

Dustin: My biggest concern is making sure we all maintain focus on our mission and objectives and that we receive “bottom up” feedback to better steer our decisions as an Executive Team. Another concern of mine is making sure we are supporting and training current employees to be the next leaders in crucial management positions. I am also concerned with establishing stable funding sources and revenue opportunities for us to remain successful in our Operations, Interpretive, Cultural/Historical and Open-Space Units.

Don: Change is the only constant we have in work and in life. With that said, my biggest concern is people having the mentality that change is a negative. I try to look for the positives that change can bring, even when it seems like things are going awry. Change is only concerning when we don’t embrace it, learn from it and try to grow. I will do everything I can to help our teams find the positive outlook and opportunities that come with change to make individuals, teams, and RivCoParks as a whole, better.


Question:

What are some of your ideas to make the parks more fun for our customers?


Answer:

I would love to add amenities in our developed parks that support:

  • Active use of our parks, including fitness equipment, basketball/pickleball courts, and multi-use trails (if they don’t already exist).

  • Determine what customers want for growth at our campgrounds and work to make it happen, including: dog parks, expanded full hook-up sites, more weekend event programming, etc.

  • Education, including interpretive panels, visual displays, and leader guided programs such as hikes, lectures and tours.

  • Collaboration with local organizations to provide organized events like fishing, hiking horse rides, etc.

  • Integrate interpretive strengths into all the work that we do, including camping so that we can drive customers who experience one to the other.

Question:

Any big projects in the works?


Answer:

The biggest projects we have in the works all depend upon grant funding and/or partnership support. Some of the biggest include:

  • Expansion of the Santa Ana River Trail

  • Mayflower Park expansion

  • Potential development of an Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation park

  • Large environmental fencing protection projects at Kabian and Santa Rosa Plateau

Question:

What is new regarding the County off road vehicle recreation area and OHV commission standings? Will the OHV commission still fall under the jurisdiction of the District?


Answer:

The OHV Commission technically falls within the District Advisory Commission functions now (it is no longer a separate commission). RivCoParks is currently researching potential sites for development of an OHV park within Riverside County. If a viable site is identified, next steps would include identifying and securing funding for acquisition, development and operations/maintenance. There is a stakeholders committee as part of the grant planning process that is helping to inform the grant progress.


Question:

Will the new campground being constructed at DVL be a RivCoPark?


Answer:

There is not currently any campground being developed at DVL (Diamond Valley Lake), so the answer is no. There is interest by Metropolitan Water District, who owns much of the land, and regional partners to develop recreational amenities, however there is not any identified funding or plans at this point in time.


Question:

What is the role of the strike team and how can we utilize them better?


Answer:

The “strike team” is now called the District Maintenance Team (DMT) as part of the reorganization for COVID. Their roles include:

  • Maintaining Parks Headquarters

  • Maintaining Park Residences (District-owned houses)

  • Assisting in maintenance of Historic and Interpretive Sites

  • Centralized maintenance coordination of more technical and larger scale projects.

  • Annual site assessments and project analysis

The DMT will be working over this next year to realize the new vision and plan to help all RivCoParks through improved preventative maintenance, project coordination, manpower and technical support, and deployment of resources.

The DMT will be instrumental in the review and development of low to mid-level CIP projects and follow them all the way to completion.


Question:

In a perfect world, how will Parks differ from now when it celebrates its 50th anniversary?


Answer:

Money. Lots and lots of money.

All kidding aside, I would hope in 20 years we will be structured in a sustainable way so that any properties we own/manage have sufficient resources to be 1) safe, 2) secure, and 3) outstanding! And it is necessary that our income stream is self-sustaining.


Question:

What would the one thing [staff] could do to better support you, and in general the upper managing team?


Answer:

For me, doing your job (CM!) to the best of your abilities, every day, is what you can do to provide the best support. Beyond that, following the RESPECT guidelines will allow us to trust and rely on one another. It helps for staff to look for growth opportunities that fit the District’s mission, see what our competition is doing better than us, generally have a growth mindset.


Question:

What excites you the most moving forward? Be specific.


Answer:

What excites me most is being able to lead such and amazing group of people and an agency that is respected as a regional leader. Specifically, I am excited to help create the new strategic plan which will be our roadmap for the future.

Our team is great at running lean. We don’t need to become lean - we already live it. I’m excited about adding camping packages, providing more full hook ups and embracing the way people want to camp.


Question:

If you didn't work at parks, where would you be?


Answer:

Kyla: I would probably be a writer (of novels maybe) or a teacher.

Erin: Practical answer - Working for another agency on expansion plans and vision, maybe higher education? Impractical answer – Purchasing a farm and doing dog and animal rescue of all kinds, dog rehab or training therapy dogs.

Dustin: Doing research on salmon on coastal rivers and streams with National Marine Fisheries Service and the United States Forest Service.

Don: If Parks had not “saved me” (as Kyla and Brande like to say) I would probably still be working with Environmental Health, but nowhere close to as happy and energetic about work as I am here at RivCoParks!


Question:

What path did each of you take to end up where you are today? (Basically a rundown of each of your careers).


Answer:

Here are the condensed versions:


Kyla: I worked for the City of Fontana for most of my career (16 years). I started working as a lifeguard when I was 16. Since that was a summer job, I worked as a Recreation Leader for youth and adult sports programs in the fall/winter/spring. I became a full time Recreation Coordinator in 1999 (running community centers, aquatics programs, sports, special events, etc.) and a Supervisor in 2004. I was fortunate to serve as Assistant to the City Manager in 2005 and I was promoted to a Manager in 2007. I joined RivCoParks in 2010. For a more complete picture of my experience, you can see a history here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rivcokylabrown/

Erin: Practiced in the field of architecture for ten years working for public clients designing parks and facilities in Seattle, Madison (WI) and San Diego. My first internship was working for the City of Seattle Parks Department in 1992. In 2002 I began working directly for agencies in the field of Historic Preservation, Planning, Neighborhoods and food systems with the longest stretch at the City of Riverside for 12 years. I came back to Riverside County Parks in 2018 over Planning and Development, recently promoting to Assistant Director. Most importantly my career has been focused on the serving the public, directly or indirectly, which is an important aspect of work for me – to serve.

Dustin: The path of Hunting, Fishing and Backpacking. Met a biologist that said I could get paid to do all three in some way or another. Worked, went to school never taking my eyes off the prize. One rung after another and I am right where I am supposed to be.

Don: Ok, follow me here, it is a bit sporadic and makes absolutely no sense, but here goes; After graduating from Cal Poly SLO with a degree in engineering, I realized actually being an engineer was not the path I wanted to be on, so I moved back to Redlands and went to work with my dad running the pizzeria (The Gourmet Pizza Shoppe) he had opened while I was in high school. While running the original Shoppe and a second location in Yucaipa that we opened, I also managed to get my MBA from the University of Redlands. As the recession of 2008 dealt its impact, I started looking for a new opportunity and stumbled my way into the County of Riverside with Environmental Heath. After five years of doing food and pool facility inspections for Env. Health I knew it was time to move onto something knew, and that’s when RivCoParks “saved me” and I found my home here. The path was erratic but in the end, I could not be happier with where my career landed me and the great group of people I work with.







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