Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association (SPRA) spring symposium, held annually in Humboldt, helps train recreation employees across the province. Photo courtesy of Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation AssociationPhoto courtesy of Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association

Each year, Humboldt Saskatchewan hosts a symposium that increases the knowledge of recreation employees across the province.

From plants, flowers, to ball diamond maintenance, arena refrigeration plant operations to basic mechanic training, the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association (SPRA) spring symposium helps recreation employees provide better services for recreational facilities across Saskatchewan.

This year’s event will be held April 24 to 27.

Tim Hanna, Facilities and Training Consultant for the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association (SPRA) said this training symposium started in 2005 and has been running annually. Recreation workers and professionals attend as the host of courses offered has something educational for everyone. Hanna said the symposium has been held in Humboldt since the beginning. The City of Humboldt has a wealth of recreational facilities, parks, conference centers, is central location in the province along with accommodations available makes it a prime center to host the event.

Michael Ulriksen, Humboldt’s director of community and leisure services said, “Anytime that we can showcase our community for any event is great for the community, event greater when we are able to see that event into a long-term partnership like we have with the SPRA. The week-long event has significant business spin-off in our community each year, especially considering that many of the attendees are in our community for multiple days, if not the entire week.”

Ulriksen said the City of Humboldt recreation department has benefitted significantly from hosting this training symposium each year.

“Most of our staff have attended numerous annual symposiums, taking in a broad range of training opportunities since 2005. The SPRA has done a phenomenal job tracking the trends and needs of the parks and recreation sector and that has allowed them to offer the targeted training opportunities most sought out by practitioners,” he said.

“The symposium has done a great job of facilitating the sharing of information and I believe it has led to barriers between communities being broken down and replaced with a greater desire for collaboration and knowledge sharing.”

Ulriksen said the city is becoming known as an ideal central location for hosting events and activities.

“We are working on ways to promote this to organizations and businesses who are looking to bring together individuals from across the province. We are excited to have the symposium back in our community again this year and for many years to come,” Ulriksen said.

On average, the symposium usually sees around 110 participants throughout the week. The impact of COVID-19 impacted recreation facilities and employees exponentially with the closure of many of these facilities. The recreation and parks industry shuttered with many rinks, pools and parks closing and it was palpable of the after affects. SPRA focuses on training individuals who directly maintain the recreation facilities in every community in Saskatchewan. Local arena caretakers, recreation foremen and workers are encouraged to attend this educational opportunity.

Among the courses offered are the Urban Parks Worker Course and the Arena Operator Level #2 (Refrigeration) Course. This is an important course for any recreation department with an arena in their community. Hanna said that these are two flagship courses that are offered each year and are well attended.  SPRA has changed some courses they offer to go with current trends and priorities for recreation workers and professionals. Hanna said new this year and creating some buzz is the small engine repair course.

“Being able to trouble shoot small engine repairs on lawn mowers, trucks, and other recreational equipment is an asset for any recreation department. SPRA partners with other organizations such as the Canadian Playground Safety Institute to offer playground safety courses. IB Storey – Rink Engineering experts will also be presenting a session on Enhancing and ensuring the viability of community rinks.”

Hanna said the SPRA tries to partner with our organization when offering the Symposium. For example, the Canadian Playground Safety Institute is offering their Playground Safety Theory and Practical courses this year. 

“These partnership really increase the value of the Symposium to our industry.  Another example of industry partnership is the session being conducted by IB Storey – Rink Engineering Experts (partner of the NHL) will be presenting a session on Ensuring and Enhancing the Viability of Community Rinks.”

The Symposium came as a direct result of the Saskatchewan Recreation Facilities Association (SRFA) amalgamating with SPRA in the early 2000s.  Both organizations had a keen interest, through their new relationship, in making training more accessible with enhanced networking opportunities. 

“Reflecting back since the beginning it’s fair to say many successes have been accomplished,” Hanna said.

An important aspect of this training is the professional grade quality of the facilitators and courses Hanna said. 

“It is a great advantage to the parks and recreation industry in Saskatchewan that this level of training is made possible. The peer-to-peer networking is another important element towards building best practices and knowledge sharing within the parks and recreation industry.”

By Nicole Goldsworthy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 11, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Humboldt Journal   Humboldt, Saskatchewan

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