Blog: Bryan Farmer

What do you get when you mix innovator-creator-leader-mentor, manager-accountant-naturalist-fundraiser, public relations-marketing-designer-engineer, planner-developer-economist-builder, sociologist-social worker-psychologist-health care provider, exercise specialist-coach-negotiator-judge?  A Certified Parks and Recreation Professional (CPRP)!
Typically found in a municipal agency, a CPRP provides what life offers outside of home and work.

Meet Bryan Farmer, CPRP, who is the Recreation Superintendent for the City of Farmington Hills Department of Special Services.  Farmer is responsible for the operation and management of the Special Services Recreation Division.  The Recreation Division oversees program offerings such as day camps, classes, family events, youth sports leagues, and other programs, as well as the management of sports fields and a variety of park facilities (Skate Park, disc golf course, nature center, and more.)

Farmer has been with Farmington Hills for the last 12 years and has made quite an impact in recreation opportunities offered by the city of Farmington Hills and the state of Michigan.  He recently spearheaded a campaign to raise nearly $1 million to build Riley Skate Park, the Midwest's largest skate park.  

Farmer is a leader in teen programming for the state of Michigan.  He developed the first Youth Council (placed in a city ordinance), was a founder of the Michigan Youth Symposium that has taken place each year since 2002, and also was a founder of the Michigan Recreation and Parks Association's Youth and Teen Initiatives Committee.

Full of ideas, ambition, and initiative, Farmer has created events like the Great Farmington Hills Campout (over 20 communities in Michigan now host "Great Campouts"), Princesses & Super Heroes Fantasy Fun Night, Hay Day, the Longacre House Cooking Show, Thrive Festival, and many others.  

He is a member of the National Parks and Recreation Association (NPRA) and has been an active member in the Michigan Recreation and Parks Association (MRPA) since 1996 and the Northwest Parks and Recreation Association (NWPRA) since 1997.  He has held the following leadership positions: MRPA Scholarship Committee Chair, Secretary; MRPA/MML Youth Symposium Committee and Founder; MRPA Youth & Teen Committee Chair and Founder; NWPRA President; NWPRA Teen Committee Member; and NWPRA Networking Committee member.

Farmer received MRPA awards on behalf of Farmington Hills Special Services including the Most Innovative Programming Award, a Marketing Showcase Award, the 2009 Outstanding Youth Council of the Year Award, and a Facility Design Award.

Farmer was named the City of Farmington Hills 2009 Employee of the Year.

All Photographs © Marvin Shaouni Photography
Contact Marvin here
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Post 3: Recreation - What's Your Definition?

Many people interpret the word "recreation" to mean sports.  Hopefully you think otherwise.  The wide array of recreation offerings encompass a lot more than just sports.  For example, the Farmington Hills/Farmington Mayor's Youth Council (made up of high school students) falls under the auspice of recreation.  Since 2002, thousands of high school age youth have attended the Michigan Youth Symposium, where Youth Councils from across Michigan meet together to network and enhance Michigan's communities while learning leadership skills and sharing ideas.  Many of these Youth Council members will one day become our community's leaders.  Thanks to recreation, we are getting a head start on developing those future leaders. The 2010 Michigan Youth Symposium takes place March 26-28, 2010 in Taylor, Michigan.

Studies have shown that recreation programs/facilities have a positive impact on crime deterrence, particularly through programs targeting out-of-school youth between 3 and 6 p.m.  By deterring crime, recreation offerings help reduce the costs related to crime and also make a community safer.

Research has proven that parks and open spaces have a positive effect on real estate values of neighboring residential properties, thereby supporting the tax base of the community.  Research has also shown that recreation provides a strong economic impact to businesses in communities.  For example, over one million people visit Founders Sports Park in Farmington Hills each year for baseball tournaments, soccer games, hockey, figure skating, skateboarding, events, and programs. 

When people visit Founders Sports Park for an activity, they often eat or shop while in town.  Without Founders Sports Park, those people wouldn't be eating and shopping in Farmington Hills.  We have created many ways that businesses can benefit through a partnership with Special Services, such as a brick court business directory, kiosk space in facilities, names on shirts, booth space at events, names on brochures and flyers, and people being brought directly to a business.

Through partnerships, Special Services determine the needs of the community and the businesses, then strive to meet those needs. If we can help businesses in Farmington Hills, they can help us.  Businesses and the people of Farmington Hills and Farmington believe in recreation.  In the last four years, Farmington Hills Special Services has partnered with well over 200 different businesses.  Each year, approximately 25,000 people in Farmington Hills participate in a program through the Recreation Division.   

It makes sense when we say: Recreation creates community through people, parks, and programs.  

Post 2: Life in Farmington Hills - The Impact

It was a few years ago when an older woman came up to me and made a point to say thank you.  She thanked me for coordinating a hot air balloon trip that she went on a couple of weeks earlier.  She had always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride, one of her goals in life.  Two months after that trip, the woman passed away.

On more than one occasion, entire families have been confronted at outdoor events with the question, "How do you roast a marshmallow?"  Since offering the Great Farmington Hills Campout, over 1,500 people have camped in Heritage Park and a number of people have tried camping in their backyards or neighborhood common areas.  About half the people attending the event were camping for the first time.  

On March 26, Princesses and Super Heroes Fantasy Fun Night will take place at the Costick Center, where over 400 kids and parents will spend an evening out doing something a little out of the ordinary.  Those little boys and girls who run around the house all winter in their favorite princess or super hero costumes will have the opportunity to wear them in public.  It's events like this that create memories and add to the quality of life in a community.

Farmington Hills Special Services provides opportunities for people to experience life, create memories, improve health, and meet others.  Farmington Hills offers events throughout the entire year, for people of all ages.  Some of the events include the Summer Concert Series (every Thursday in the summer), Longacre House Cooking Show (select Thursdays), Art on the Grand (6/5-6/6/10), Great Farmington Hills Campout (6/12-6/13/10), Car Show (6/19/10), Thrive Festival (6/26/10), Optimist Club Fishing Day (7/24/10), Marshmallow Fly & Fry (8/24/10), Fall Classic Skateboard Competition (9/25/10), Hay Day (10/5/10), and Live & Local (12/4/10) Click here for more event details.

Post 1: Societal Change: It's Simple

In order to make things happen, it's best to partner up.  Through my experiences in creating events, developing fresh programs or building new facilities, it's never done alone.  Collaboration is key and vision helps.

Think back.  What was your most memorable outdoor experience growing up? Now, what will this generation of youth say when asked the same question 20 years from now?

We hear it everywhere, from teachers, doctors, reporters, and parents – kids, and people in general, spend too much time in front of the computer, watching TV, not getting outside like their parents used to.  Is it too far fetched to say that we can change society?  I don't think so.  It's quite simple. 

Everybody, GO OUTSIDE!  

Now, the question: What's the point? (Up in the Air, 2009, think about it) The point is, stronger bones, lower cancer risk – not getting enough sun causes people to become Vitamin D deficient, causing health risks.  Being non-active is one cause of obesity and diabetes.  Outdoor activity reduces stress and depression.  People who stare at the TV and video games have less patience and shorter attention spans (hmm Attention Deficit Disorder)  Isn't recess shorter these days? Yes.  What do you do when you get home from work?  What do kids do when they get home from school?  Do middle schools have a playground?

Hopefully you get the point. We were not born to spend 99 percent of our lives indoors and the only time we go outside is to get from here to there.  I recently read that there is a growing concern that this generation of children may be the first in two centuries to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, fueled by the childhood obesity epidemic and other health conditions experienced by this generation of "indoor kids."  Could this generation be destined to live many less hours, with many more of those precious hours spent staring at screens? Don't get me wrong, technology is good, but getting outside is vital.

So, what do you do outside?  Other than eating a nice meal at one of your favorite restaurants that provides outdoor seating, many communities have parks, programs, and events available for everyone to participate in.  And thanks to that restaurant that provides outdoor seating, they often partner up or sponsor Department of Special Services programs and events.  Many programs are free and/or have a nominal fee to cover costs.  Believe me, your CPRP isn't in it to make money.  That was reiterated more than once while going through college to get a Bachelors Degree in Parks and Recreation Management.  

Farmington Hills is a unique community to live and work in.  The landscape and design of the community combines wooded areas and ravines with beautiful homes and businesses all mixed in to provide a city with both a rural and a suburban feel.   Add in the parks, the people, and the programs, and you have a community everyone would want to live in.  Farmington Hills offers over 3,000 programs and events each year and is comprised of over 628 acres of parkland.

Farmington Hills is making an effort toward Societal Change and helping to get more people outside.  On March 22, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., a No Child Left Inside Summit will take place at the Costick Center in Farmington Hills.  We are asking everyone to attend the Summit, including groups like the Farmington Area Moms Club, day care providers, Scout troops, city commissions, health care providers, youth council members, faith organizations, school administrators and teachers, parents, children, and others.  Farmington Hills Special Services is making a point to provide more experiences for children and adults to get outside.  With the help of Elizabeth Goodenough, advisor on the PBS documentary Where Do the Children Play?, the Summit on March 22 is just the beginning of the process toward getting people “outside.”  

Farmington Hills Special Services is making it as easy as possible for children and adults to get outside.  Each year over 2,500 children participate in Summer Camps. REGISTER ONLINE!  Licensed Day Camps are offered throughout the entire summer in various settings (Heritage Park, Costick Center, Ice Arena), while art, sports, and other specialty camps take place throughout the season.  Events like Hay Day, the Marshmallow Fly & Fry, and the Great Farmington Hills Campout have hosted thousands of people each year, and are specifically designed to get people outdoors.  

Facilities like Riley Skate Park, the Farm Disc Golf Course, the Heritage Park Nature Center, and others provide top quality experiences for outdoor activity.  In 2010, Farmington Hills Special Services will unveil a new Splash Pad, host many new programs through the Heritage Park Nature Center, will become the place in the metro area for Hay Rides, and help lead adults and children down the path of a new way of life.  

We are doing our job towards the societal change of getting people outdoors.  We need your help.  Spread the word, help reduce health care costs, and get outside.  
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