Parks & Recreation Professionals Day & Recognizing Amy Watson – Director of Recreation
Q: Why did you go into the Parks and Recreation field?
Amy: I actually started off wanting to be a teacher, but halfway through college I realized teaching in a school setting was not for me. There was too much of a curriculum base, and there were opportunities through recreation to teach, but in a fun way without having to follow a curriculum. So I decided to take that avenue. I graduated from Western Illinois University with a degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration with a minor in Business Management. Then, I started in aquatics. Since then, I have overseen many full-time and part-time staff, so teaching them tricks of the trade through different recreational outlets has been fun – I enjoy it.
My role now is the Director of Recreation. I love that there are so many different avenues. From preschool to aquatics to the senior center, general recreation programs, fine arts, and athletics – you can get into everything. There is not a cookie-cutter day around here. I like problem-solving, working with the public, and teaching. It’s all-encompassing for me.
Q: When did you start working at the Glenview Park District? What is your history here?
Amy: I did my college internship here. After college, I was at the South Barrington Park District for six months. But I grew up in Glenview, and my heart has always been here. When Glenview was opening Park Center they were looking to fill an evening facility supervisor position so I took the opportunity because I knew I wanted to be here. My heart was here. You have to start somewhere, so I jumped back into the swing of things here at our front desk. A few months later, the aquatics supervisor position became available. It was perfect for me because I was a lifeguard in high school and college. I have grown tremendously since then and the Park District has given me many wonderful opportunities to be successful. I have been with the District for 21 years.
Q: What do you enjoy about working with other professionals in the Parks and Recreation field?
Amy: I think we are all very open, honest, and willing to help each other. There’s no play-by-play book in recreation. We have a very strong network within the Recreation Professional field. Everyone is open, willing to share experiences and help each other out if there are more tricks of the trade to make life easier. It is great to have that camaraderie– not only with my co-workers in Glenview, but in the professional world with the other park districts. For example, at the beginning of the summer, we ran out of whistles, and we were able to easily call our neighbors at Northbrook and ask if they had some to spare. It’s great that we can scratch each other’s backs when need be.
Q: What are the benefits of Parks and Recreation to the Glenview community?
Amy: It is a community within a community. We help make Glenview a stronger, more resilient community by providing programs, spaces, and chances to connect with another. Working here, you see the same people coming from the same programs, but you can also see them grow through our programs. They are here throughout their whole lifetime. In Parks and Rec you can know someone right when they’re born, see them grow all the way up through marriage, and sometimes come back to start living in the town again. It’s cool to see the evolution of our community. I’m a people person, so it’s fun to have that relationship with families who have been here for a long time.
Q: What does Park and Recreation Month mean to you?
Amy: Definitely to get out and stay active, have fun, be part of the community, and explore new opportunities that might be out there. It’s not only indoor recreation, it’s outdoor recreation too. We have amazing parks and amazing historical sites. People would never think that we have a farm in Glenview. It’s a cool thing to have. Parks and Rec was a part of my life growing up, and I’m happy we have the resources, facilities, and programs in our community for all who live here. We’re all in this together. We want to be the best that we can be.