Richard E. Durr, Jr., CPRP, AICP, PLA
Seminole County Leisure Services Department Director
"Rick Durr has been serving in the Seminole County Government since 2012 and is currently Director of the Seminole County Leisure Services Department. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Florida and is formally trained in project management with over 26 years’ experience in project planning, public space design, management, policy implementation, contract management and implementation. Prior to the role of Director, Rick served as Greenways & Natural Lands Division Manager for Seminole County and managed parks planning and improvements projects for the County.
Rick has been professionally licensed in the State of Florida as a Landscape Architect since 1996, as a Certified Planner by the American Institute of Certified Planners since 2001, and a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional since 2016. His experience includes serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission and Local Planning Agency for the Village of Royal Palm Beach, Florida for over nine years, including serving as Vice Chair or Chair for four of those years. Prior to his work at Seminole County, Rick spent eighteen years in private practice with a focus on parks, public spaces & greenways planning, design and construction. He has also spent time serving in various roles on a Youth Sports non-profit Board of Directors as a league organizer and treasurer, and nine years as a youth sports coach. Rick is a graduate of Leadership Seminole’s Class 28 in 2019 and has been speaking at and participating in FRPA events since 1999.
Rick is a native Floridian, has two grown children and resides in Lake Mary with his wife of over 30 years."
Why do you want to serve FRPA as Vice President?
"FRPA is the best professional organization I’ve ever been a part of. Our organization’s leaders, volunteers and staff have served us well and have been there for me throughout my career. It is now time for me to give back in a big way, serve my fellow professionals, and to help carry forward this legacy to continue to be the preeminent professional organization for all of us now and in the future.”
What tools/resources do you utilize to stay on the cutting edge in the Parks, Recreation and Leisure profession, and where would you look to gain insight into what lies ahead as far as challenges and changes in the next five years?
"My passion for parks and public service was realized in the mid-1990s the first time I provided planning services for a regional trails project. Since then my 25 plus-years of parks, greenways, trails and natural lands experience has led to working with many communities to assist residents and elected leaders to realize their vision, establish goals and objectives to meet the current and future needs of their residents, and improve their quality of life through parks. My own public service has included facilitating recreation programs, serving neighborhood groups to address their parks and trails needs, establishing excellent rapport with elected representatives, hands-on experience with parks user groups and non-profits, and finally as Director of Leisure Services for Seminole County.
The tools and resources which I utilize to stay on the cutting edge in the Parks, Recreation and Leisure profession include outwardly directed efforts within the profession, inwardly-focused efforts in working with a team of talented professionals to continually learn from each other; and lastly, continuing to learn from other industries and government leaders which affect and influence our profession. These include:
Outwardly directed efforts specific to Parks, Recreation and Leisure Profession:
- Direct collaboration and discussion with peers in the profession in both informal and formal settings, such as participating in the annual spring Central Florida meetings in DeBary; participation in online programs such as the “Chat and Chew” zoom meetings; attendance, participation and volunteering in agency functions, such as the Agency Summit and Annual Conferences;
- Facilitating inter-agency collaboration and involvement in strategic planning, such as inter-County and multiple jurisdictional master planning programs for parks, trails and natural lands;
- Reading and research of the latest materials issued by FRPA and NRPA, as well as other national publications such as community planning and landscape architectural publications;
- Reading of daily bulletins through publications such as Athletic Business and the Orlando Business Journal;
- Participation in the customized Annual Agency Performance Review through NRPA and analysis of the various national benchmarks and trends;
- Active involvement and outreach to leaders in the Parks profession, such as other award-winning agencies and universities on anything from current issues to best practices;
Inwardly-focused efforts include creating a collaborative environment for our Leisure Services Department Leadership Team to better inform and support each other with the challenges and changes within our profession. These efforts include:
- Fostering a working collaboration between the senior members of the Leisure Services Department within each profession. Our Department includes not just the Parks & Recreation Division, but Greenways & Natural Lands Program, UF/IFAS Extension Services and Seminole County Library System. These Divisions include staff with diverse backgrounds, such as: professionals with advanced degrees; licensed, certified professionals in different, parallel fields; contractors and tradesworkers; trained educators; certified inspectors; professional biologists; and trained project managers. Harnessing this cross section of experience and input from professionals and specialists in their fields helps us to understand trends and insight into the future of our profession – and are critical to our continued success as an agency.
- Working with the Leisure Services Leadership team to facilitate management discussions within a bi-monthly book club, along with other readings and discussion of leadership and management materials and trends.
Lastly, our professional does not exist in a silo, and is effected and influenced by other factors in governance, trends in economics, development and redevelopment. Therefore some of the ways to stay current on trends which influence our profession include:
- Staying actively involved in our County’s annual Legislative Agenda preparation;
- Being engaged and collaboration with our County’s Executive Leadership Team;
- As a recent graduate of Leadership Seminole, continuing to support and actively participate in the continuance of the program, collaborating with other professionals, non-profits, industry and government leaders in the region (experience with this group also includes having made presentations within the program on the parks, trails and natural lands of Seminole County each year dating back to 2017);
- Making presentations and facilitating discussions with other community leaders in other forums, such as within various Rotary Clubs in Seminole County;
- Collaboration with peers in other parallel and/or supporting related industries, such as volunteer efforts with Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association, Florida Planning & Zoning Association and Florida Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects;
- Participating in educational sessions and professional outreach provided by other groups such as 1000 Friends of Florida programs;"
One of the greatest challenges facing FRPA is the delivery of innovative and applicable professional development opportunities. What approach would you employ towards identifying potential training opportunities and how would you determine their overall effectiveness in meeting the needs of the membership? What strategy would you utilize for the development and implementation of these development opportunities?
"With an endeavor like this in service of the membership, I would begin with direct communication with the membership. Conducting a need assessment program/project would be an effort organized around the objective of determining and delivering innovative and applicable professional development opportunities for the membership. Through the use of various survey methods and testing, the demand and need areas of the membership could be determined. Determining priorities of the membership would also be a part of this process. An effort such as this could be launched purely as a result of the limitations of the pandemic, making the outreach effort easily understandable and timely.
Once the results of the needs assessment could be evaluated, an implementation plan/strategy could be created which relies on various methods of delivery, including but not limited to programs produced by the association itself as well as strategic partnership opportunities for program delivery. Part of this effort would be to also determine measures of effectiveness and/or critical indicators. Our agency employs a number of methods, from direct survey questions (not unlike the current review forms used at the annual conference), to online surveys and questionnaires.
My extensive experience in conducting needs assessments and facilitating workshops for most of my career in parks could be of great service to a project like this.
Other delivery options employed by other associations also provide comparables for continuing education consideration across different parallel disciplines. For example, an offering by a private provider of an online or in person seminar on economic impact of public projects may become a registered provider of CEU credits for the planning, landscape architecture and law profession. Diversifying opportunities across other disciplines may be an opportunity to further explore for the membership."