Recreation has always played a major role in my life, though it took me a while to find a way to make it my career. When I was a kid, if I wasn’t in school, chances are I would be on the field, court, pool or gym. Through my adolescent years I played competitive soccer and football. In High School I held part-time and volunteer positions coaching sports. And later in in college, I was fortunate enough to play soccer as well as on trial with professional clubs in England and the USA. It was through these experiences that knew I wanted to be involved with recreation in a greater capacity. It was my passion!

I have always had a strong drive to give back to others and my community. But it wasn’t until I was completing my Sports Science Diploma and working as a sports coach and fitness trainer, when I was approach by a Fire Department Chief. He suggested a career in firefighting could align well with my goals and interests.

At the time I was struggling to find full-time recreation-based work, so I decided to give firefighting a shot! It wasn’t until after graduating college and firefighting school, that I ended up landing a job with the City of New Westminster in Engineering Operations, working primarily in Parks and Maintenance within Engineering Operations.

I am extremely grateful to the great Managers I’ve worked with at the City of New Westminster who have challenged me and allowed me to grow my skills as a leader. Since my time at Engineering Operations I have held a variety of roles including Parks Coordinator, Superintendent of Utilities Projects, Operations Coordinator, Chief Deputy of Emergency Support Services, and Superintendent of Street Use Enforcement, Parking & Animal Services. While I was humbled with these incredible opportunities, I kept feeling the pull to further explore the satisfaction I experiences as a coach and trainer in recreation.

A few years ago, I decided to do more focused research on careers in parks and recreation and went about interviewing professionals in the field. I was extremely fortunate to be able to set up a meeting with Steve Kellock, BCRPA Director and Senior Manager of Recreation Services & Facilities at the City of New Westminster. Steve suggested taking the Bachelor of Recreation Management Degree at Langara College. I also had the opportunity to meet and be mentored by Dustin Ray-Wilks, Manager of Aquatics at the City of New Westminster. He suggested strengthening my skills and technical knowledge by taking a variety of BCRPA courses, in order to build the technical skills required to succeed in recreation.

I started the program in Fall of 2017 while still working full-time. As I proceeded through the program, I remember while participating in a class discussion having that “aha” moment – that working in recreation was what I was born to do.

2019 was a year of continued celebration. I was honored to receive BCRPA’s DB Perks & Associates Graduate Student Scholarship Award along with two fellow award recipients, Nicole Bracewell and Megan Fortune. This award supports students graduating from a parks and/or recreation program, and recognizes strengths in academics, class participation, team work, and a demonstrated leadership and commitment to the parks and recreation sector. I was also honoured to be nominated by Langara College for my academics and community involvement.

BCRPA has supported me through the years to attend conferences and courses, and in addition to its recognition through the Graduate Student Scholarship Award, has positively impacted my overall career as an emerging parks and recreation employee.

And then came 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. I witnessed my fellow classmates and colleagues in the recreation and parks sector face much uncertainty as our facilities and programs closed down. I have been fortunate to continue my employed work, now with the City of New Westminster Emergency Operations Centre.

As parks and recreation professionals I believe our commitment to providing a service to others is why we are in this industry. I also know the financial aid that accompanied the BCRPA- DB Perks & Associates Graduate Student Scholarship Award could support students whose employment had been affected by the pandemic.

With this in mind, I created a scholarship at Langara College for students who have exemplified leadership in their academics, an organization and/or their community. I hope to recognize emerging leaders in the recreation and parks industry and celebrate their accomplishments, while providing some financial relief.

The mentorship provided by the BCRPA staff and board of directors has empowered my career in parks and recreation and I hope to do the same with this scholarship that will continue for the next five years at Langara College. I also hope that more people will consider a deeply fulfilling career in the recreation and parks sector. Make sure to check out the new Careers in Recreation and Parks website that’s full of resources to help you get started.

About the Author: Dylan Myers

Dylan Myers, Acting Superintendent of Street Use Enforcement, Parking & Animal Services, is committed to local government leadership and empowering emerging leaders in the public sector industry. Although Dylan works in Engineering Services for the City of New Westminster, his passion is in Parks and Recreation where he previously worked as a Coordinator of Parks and Open Space Maintenance. Dylan holds a Bachelors of Recreation Management from Langara College, as well as various certificates from Douglas College, British Columbia Institute of Technology and the Justice Institute of British Columbia. Dylan was born and raised in New Westminster and is proud to volunteer at St John Ambulance in a Superintendent capacity, as well as being an avid volunteer for Honour House Society in New Westminster.

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