Heart of the Parks: Staff Cite Coworkers for Commitment to The Metroparks Way

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Great coworkers make work less, well, work-like. The culture of the park district, simply summed up as The Metroparks Way, is part of the organization’s strategic plan, but more important, it’s part of daily life on the job.

A new program, Heart of the Park, invites Metroparks Toledo employees to acknowledge their coworkers for major accomplishments and small gestures that exemplify what The Metroparks Way is all about. The first batch of kudos, announced last week at an all-staff meeting, shows the many ways members of the Metroparks team make a difference every day. Here are some examples. 

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Much of the work of the Metroparks Rangers, who are certified peace officers, goes unrecognized because of the nature of their law enforcement work. Such was the case in an incident related by Assistant Chief Brad Navarre, who commended Rangers Jacob Rettenberger, Pete Genzman and Greg Mahlman for their compassion and professionalism. Ranger Rettenberger encountered a park visitor in despair, and with help from Rangers Genzman and Mahlman convinced her to voluntarily get professional treatment, to the relief of her worried family.

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Nick Dian, administrative assistant-programming, helped make a large program at Toledo Botanical Garden flow seamlessly in late July under difficult circumstances, and his coworker, Kim High, took note. “It’s not easy to move 233 kiddos, their agency leaders and our volunteers into 16 groups going to four different places in rotation,” Kim said. “Nick went above and beyond, stayed to help direct everyone, and even led a walk the last hour.”

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Kim also showed appreciation for three other coworkers on the environmental education team -- Kelly Milewski, Devon Donnelly and Stephanie Condon – for volunteering to fill in for her to lead public programs so that Kim could take advantage of a training.

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Corinne Ingmire also congratulated Kelly Milewski who spent the time to alleviate the fears of a young child signing up for summer camp, walking her to where a camp was already underway to show her what she could expect. Coworker Stephanie Condon also commended Kelly for a similar situation in which Kelly helped prepare a child to experience her first camp.

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Patty Morgenstern’s commitment to service didn’t go unnoticed by her coworker, Heather Mosqueda. Patty, the customer service manager, has pitched in numerous times to help cover the busy Visitors Center at Wildwood, where the phones ring constantly some days and visitors stop in for information. “(Patty) has helped out quite a lot over the past couple months, frequently needing to stay late to finish her work. She even changed her personal plans to assist in coverage a couple times,” Heather observed.

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LaRae Sprow, a crew leader in the Natural Resources Department, shared her appreciation for the work of Bryant Dietrich, a lead conservation assistant, for his initiative to complete a variety of side projects in addition to his daily assignments. “When he started working with us he had very little experience with equipment maintenance.  He now accepts challenges with enthusiasm knowing that he won’t know if he can fix it or not until he tries,” said LaRae, who praised Bryant’s mechanical and problem solving skills.

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LaRae also sent kudos to two members of her team in the Natural Resources Department, Derrek Unverferth and Jason Diver, for their solution to a complex mechanical problem with a skid steer tractor. “We could probably patent it,” LaRae said, calling Jason and Derrek “amazing, talented, dedicated and innovative.”

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Jake Willing, an outdoor skills interpreter, came to a special event, on a very hot summer day, when he was not scheduled to be there and brought ice cream for his coworkers. The gesture made an impression on his supervisor, Ashley Smith.

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Janella Hodel gave a shout out to Alexandria Berger for dropping what she was doing to give a tour of the Blue Creek Nursery to an unexpected guest from another agency.

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Jen Elsworth complimented Amy Harley, a first-time member of the seasonal program staff, who “consistently created new and memorable experiences for our youngest park visitors.” Amy’s work, Jen noted, often involves children, some with special needs, who are experiencing summer camp for the first time.