Metroparks of the Toledo Area is increasing the variety of environmental and outdoor skills programs it offers as part of a reorganization that includes hiring a new director of programming.
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Michelle Grigore will join the staff in March in the new position. She has served the past 10 and one-half years as director of parks and recreation for the City of Bowling Green.
It’s the second time Mrs. Grigore has worked for Metroparks. She started at the park district as a naturalist in 1986, served as assistant program manager from 1987 to 1996 then became director of development. She left that position in 1999 after completing a Ph.D. in biology and ecology at the University of Toledo to take a position as assistant professor of botany and director of the Slayton Arboretum at Hillsdale College. From 2001 to 2004 she was director of Toledo Botanical Garden.
“My view of programming is that it’s part of the conversation we have with our customers,” Mrs. Grigore said. Starting as early as pre-school, she said, “we can give them a message that will last a lifetime.”
Outdoor skills programming such as kayaking and archery, and impromptu “pop-up” programs such as snowshoeing are new ways the park district is bringing people into the parks to engage with nature and develop healthy, lifelong habits.
Such programs, Mrs. Grigore said, are more interactive and relevant to users than “talking at them.” They also encourage people to be active. “Good health is as simple as a walk in the park – it adds years to your life,” she said.
Three other new positions in the programming department have been filled with internal staff: Heather Norris will manage environmental programs, including the park district’s school outreach efforts and summer camps; Shannon DeYoung will lead interpretive programming; and Ashley Smith will oversee outdoor skills programs.
“This new structure will allow us to connect with every school in the county and every segment of our population in fun and creative new ways,” said Dave Zenk, deputy director.