Fayetteville parks department wins multiple awards for programs and volunteer work

Courtesy photo

Fayetteville’s parks and recreation department was honored with four awards this year at the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association’s annual conference.

The awards included sports program of the year, natural resource program of the year, group volunteer of the year and individual volunteer of the year, according to a news release.

The sports program of the year was for the Yvonne Richardson Community Center’s X-Factor Homeschool PE Program. The free program served 70 homeschooled youth, ages 6 to 16, with activities such as hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, rugby, basketball, track and field, swimming, volleyball and cooking. The program is designed to encourage healthy habits, sportsmanship, sport fundamentals, team work and problem-solving skills.

The Bradford Pear Tree Bounty won the natural resource program of the year award. The program was established by the department’s Urban Forestry Advisory Board with the goal to educate the community about invasive species. Residents were encouraged to cut down their Bradford pear trees, for which they were rewarded by the city with the “bounty” of a native tree replacement at no cost. The program received national media recognition and was featured by USA Today and Southern Living.

The board was also recognized as volunteer group of the year. The seven-member advisory board is responsible for creating programs that promote the environmental benefits of trees. The programs include the Bradford Pear Tree Bounty and the Amazing Tree Program, which creates awareness of the significance of urban trees by recognizing a local tree each year for its exemplary size, growth, species, age and/or historic characteristics.

The individual volunteer of the year award went to Fayetteville resident Rob Reno. Reno is a longtime member of the Ozark Off-Road Cyclists and has contributed hundreds of volunteer hours annually toward maintaining many of Fayetteville’s mountain bike trails. He specifically led four volunteer work days repairing damage caused by heavy rain on the Last Call and Terrapin Station trails at Kessler Mountain Regional Park. With Reno’s direction, 18 volunteers worked 256 hours to repair almost 200 feet of trail and move more than 18,000 pounds of large stone.