Ardmore’s Parks and Recreation Department was recognized for several accomplishments at the Oklahoma Recreation and Parks Society’s annual conference earlier this month. 

The conference is a learning and networking opportunity for the department’s staff, but doubles as a friendly competition with a maintenance rodeo. Parks and Recreation director Teresa Ervin said their team placed third overall in the contest, with Sand Springs placing first and Oklahoma City taking second. A total of seven departments competed. 

“They turn the maintenance work these guys do every day into a competition,” Ervin said. “Mower, truck and trailer, backpack blowing, it’s kind of set up like a track meet, where they have individual events and that adds to the team score.”

Koby Roberts placed third in the truck and trailer pull, which involves driving an 18-foot trailer in a figure-eight pattern without knocking over cones placed around the track. Silas Paty and Victor White placed second in the irrigation event, a timed pipe-laying challenge.

The conference, which was held in Ardmore this year, is also a chance for parks departments to receive awards and recognition for their work. Ervin and assistant director Alicia Henry were awarded the President’s Citation for outstanding professional contributions in leadership, and the department won an Award of Excellence for their summer program “Food, fun and fiction.” Tes Stewart also became a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional. 

The conference is also a chance for departments to network and share ideas with each other in between classes and workshops that let them earn new certifications. 

“You get to network with professionals across the state,” Ervin said. “We don’t get  to see them often and it’s good to see what everyone else is doing, what the trends in those areas are, what programs and facilities they have. It’s time well-spent.”

Henry said they attended some workshops about softball leagues that gave them ideas for Ardmore’s, and possible updates for the department’s tennis camp and classes. They also received new custom trash bins and benches from a vendor at the conference, and the department received a $500 scholarship for HFV Wilson Community Center to receive basketball equipment.