Wednesday, July 02, 2014

High Performance Agencies

Park, Recreation or Tourism organizations have the potential to transform communities, and make the world a better place in numerous way. But this great potential can only be achieved if those organizations are functioning at their best. This is the underlying premise of my new book High Performance Agencies: The Entrepreneurial Model for Public Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Organizations. This book was just released by Sagamore Publishing. and is available at:

I was very honored to have Barbara Tulipane the President/CEO of the National Recreation and Park Association write the forward for this book. The book features great examples from around the Country of agencies that are using best management practices in various areas to achieve great results. In addition to the Forward, various leaders in this field have contributed to sections of the book. These contributing writers include:
John O'Meara - Executive Director, Columbus and Franklin County Metropolitan Park District
Tom Starnes - Communications Manager, Orange County Park District
MaryBeth Thaman - Director, Kettering Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts
Brian Zimmerman - CEO, Cleveland Metro Park District
Michael McCarty - Director, Fairfax City Park and Recreation Department
Tom Lovell - Administrator, Lee's Summit Park and Recreation Department
Randall Ferris - Senior Attractions Supervisor, Herschend Family Entertainmant, Stone Mountain

For more information on this and my other book Lead Like a General visit my author web site at:

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Land donations for parkland leaves lasting legacy

NOVA Parks, with its reputation for conservation and running world class public sites has attracted land donations for many decades. Counting full ownership donations, partial value donations, and long-term leases for token amounts, we have 14 properties that have been contributed to the public good.

If you visit the headquarters of NOVA Parks there is one wall will back and white photos of land donors from the 1970s and 1980s. And outside the Board room is another wall with color photos of some of the more recent donations (although it is not fully up to date, due to recent donations).

Since 2006 there has been a new wave of land donations that are celebrated on this wall. The modern donations include:
  • Aldie Mill Historic Park - 2006
  •  Mt. Zion Historic Park - 2009
  • Additional area of Pohick Bay Regional Park  - 2009
  • Additional area of Pohick Bay Regional Park - 2012
  • Linn Nature Preserve - 2012
  • Rust Sanctuary - 2013
  • Webb Sanctuary - 2013
  • Mt. Defiance Historic Park - 2013
  • Jackson House (part of Balls Bluff) - 2014
  • Tinner Hill Historic Site - 2014 
Historically, big parks like Meadowlark Garden, Red Rock Overlook, and Temple Hall Farm Park were donated to NOVA Parks.

These donations have, and will continue to leave a legacy of history, nature, recreation, and open space that will enrich the lives of countless people in our region for generations to come!

If you are interested in exploring the idea of donating all, or part, of your land for public park use, contact me at pgilbert(at) and we can help you think through the issues related to such a gift. Virginia continues to have one of the strongest tax credit programs in the nation to encourage this kind of gift.
Gary Knipling Donating one of his properties on Mason Neck

Journey Though Hallowed Ground Living Legacy Project

Our great partners at the Journey Though Hallowed Ground have launched a remarkable effort. They are working to plant over 600,000 trees along Rt. 15 from Gettysburg to Charlottesville. These trees will each represent an individual who died as a result of the Civil War. This multi-year effort is not only a meaningful way to honor these fallen soldiers, but also a great way to make the Rt.15 corridor one of the most beautiful in the nation.

JTHG is a great organization that NOVA Parks is proud to partner with in many ways, with our numerous historic properties in this corridor. These parks include:
  • White's Ford Regional Park
  • Temple Hall Farm Park
  • Ball's Bluff Battlefield Park
  • Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Park
  • Aldie Mill Historic Park
  • Mt. Zion Historic Park
  • Gilbert's Corner Regional Park

Living Legacy Tree Planting Project Ceremony with U.S. Marine Corps
Sunday June 29, 2014

In its continuing effort to appropriately commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership will host a Living Legacy Tree Planting Project ceremony, scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 29th at 2:30 p.m., at Oatlands Historic House and Gardens in Leesburg, Virginia. The Commandant's Own, the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps and the official Color Guard of the Marine Corps will be participating in the ceremony. The 60 members of this prestigious military group will perform as part of the ceremony, which is free and open to the public.

The United States Marine Corps Drum & Bugle Corps and the Official Color Guard of the Marine Corps are part of the Marine Corps Detachment attached to Marine Barracks Washington, also known as the "Oldest Post of the Corps." These Marines have agreed to participate in the June 29th Ceremony to honor the over 500 fallen Civil War soldiers who will be commemorated with newly planted and dedicated trees along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway, Rt. 15. The Marine Corps Color Guard carries the official Battle Colors of the Marine Corps. The 54 streamers and silver bands displayed on the battle colors commemorate the military campaigns in which Marines have participated. They span the entire history of the nation, from the American Revolution to the present.

The June 29th Living Legacy Tree Project Planting Ceremony is scheduled the week of Independence Day and serves as a reminder to us of the sacrifice made by generations before. This planting is part of the Living Legacy Tree Planting project, a sweeping and ambitious effort to plant or dedicate a tree for each of the more than 620,000 soldiers who died during the American Civil War and was launched by the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership to create an appropriate legacy for the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Each tree is geotagged to share the name of the soldier, where he was born, where he died and include the story of the soldier’s life.

In addition to the musical interlude, remarks will be given by JTHG Partnership President Cate Magennis Wyatt, Senior Executive Brock Bierman, and other dignitaries. Students who have been researching the stories of the fallen soldiers will also be on hand to dedicate the trees that day. Oatlands will be offering free admission to the mansion for anyone attending the ceremony, and welcomes visitors to join the opening of their Annual Art Show with a reception beginning at 5:30 in the Carriage House. This will be the seventh planting ceremony, each one of which recognizes the individuals for whom the tree is planted.