Bloomington Parks and Recreation has transformed our city. We often take its various recreation opportunities for granted and lose sight of the dedicated individuals behind the department. Public service may not be the goal of some but for Becky Barrick-Higgins, it is her passion. Becky currently works at the Parks and Recreation Department as the Community Events Manager. Last year, the Indiana Park and Recreation Association presented her with the Outstanding Professional Award. It is incredible to know that an IU alum is paving the way right here in Bloomington.
I asked Ms. Barrick-Higgins the following questions:
What does your position as Community Events Manager entail?
My position manages Community Events Area programs and facilities including revenue and expenses, payroll, formulation of goals and objectives, and management and evaluation of all programs and activities. Area includes, but is not limited to: programs, events, concerts series, movie series, Farmers’ Market, community gardens, senior programs, part rentals and event permit requests.
Responsible for proper management, organization and implementation of Community Events (service 50-15,000 participants) and activities by coordinating use of Department and community resources such as building and facilities, supplies, materials, transportation, equipment, and manpower.
Supervises area staff including full-time, part-time, interns and volunteers, including recruiting, hiring, training, scheduling, supervising and regularly evaluating job performance.
What led you to the Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department?
I have worked in the recreation profession for 35 years. My undergraduate degree was in Outdoor Education and my graduated degree was in Park Administration. Both from IU. I have lived in Bloomington since the late 1970’s and attended many of the events and activities that I am now responsible for managing. Bloomington Park and Recreation Department is an award winning, accredited department and I was thrilled when my current position became available 18 years ago.
What is the most challenging and most rewarding aspect of your job?
The answer is the same for both parts of the question. Providing an eclectic mix of cultural and outdoor activities and year-round events to provide enjoyment, education, and a sense of community for the diversity of people who make Bloomington their home.
Can you describe your average work week?
I wish I could. I meet with staff weekly and attend many meetings. My weekly plans change often as I manage all the different areas for which I hold responsibility.
What skills are the most important for success in this field?
Flexibility and creativity.
What advice would you give to students following a similar career path?
Get as much volunteer experience as you can to make sure you really want to work in this career path. It is extremely rewarding, but not often very profitable. Most people fall into the recreation profession because they have a passion for it and not because they want to get rich.
Which event or program is the most memorable?
Well, that’s a hard question. Farmers’ Market is pretty incredible, but the Pumpkin Launch is a fun and crazy event. It is always enjoyable to have a balance between the type of programs and events that we offer. One think I can promise is that you will never get bored.
Shannen Keene is a senior from Ellettsville, IN pursuing a degree in Community Health. Bloomington has taught her the value of diversity, culture, and good food. After graduation, she hopes to venture out West to serve for AmeriCorps then apply to an urban planning graduate program.
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