In 2018, Sisters Park & Recreation District (SPRD) was experiencing a time of major transition, just as the Sisters Country Vision Action Plan was being finalized. A year later, SPRD has entered a new era and is stepping into leadership with a strong balance of expertise and passion. Under new Executive Director Jennifer Holland and her skilled board and staff, SPRD has revamped their approach to funding, created a new staffing structure, and completed a new strategic plan. They are also working collaboratively with other organizations to develop new programs, create new opportunities for youth, and explore options for creating a multi-purpose community center.

Of the 20 strategies listed in the Vision Action Plan, Holland says she is most excited about the Connected Sisters strategies, particularly those meant to support more opportunities for youth.

“That’s why I got into this world of recreation — to be a positive change for youth!” says Holland. She has been working closely with Sisters School District to find new ways to support youth programs and increase access to school facilities for community members. Their efforts have already resulted in a new open gym at Sisters Elementary School every Saturday, and they are now in discussion of how to best utilize school facilities during the summer months. These conversations naturally led into a partnership to take the lead on developing a multi-purpose community center — one of the most popular vision strategies. Working with Citizens4Community (C4C), SPRD and Sisters School District are preparing to meet with key stakeholders this month, with a larger community conversation to follow.

Holland has also stepped up to serve on the Vision Implementation Team, and says she feels inspired by the collaboration she has seen so far.

“I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into, but after attending the first meeting it was cool to see so many organizations coming together to ensure that Sisters continues on an upward trajectory and has a plan for the future. I see it’s important to keep the conversation going and keep partnerships strong,” says Holland.

SPRD’s work on the vision is bolstered by exciting internal changes. A new staffing structure implemented by Interim Director Courtney Snead created program directors for the first time, allowing staff to develop more intentional programming and provide quality control, while the executive director can focus on bigger-picture goals. This includes a new strategic plan and reevaluation of SPRD’s funding and fee structure. Holland says a new method of evaluating program fees will allow the District to consider the actual costs of running programs, with program subsidies that reflect the community’s priorities.

“We will continue to show the community that we’re good stewards of tax dollars,” Holland emphasizes. Exciting changes in programming are also underway.

“SPRD is moving from a reactive to proactive programming approach” says Holland, “Previously, a community member would share an idea for a program, and we would just try to run with it. Now, we’re able to thoroughly develop the program, find partners, establish the best fee, and ensure sustainability.”

Holland is currently working with Central Oregon Community College to bring COCC’s continuing-education classes back to the Coffield Center. Holland says she is hoping to pilot new classes this summer, with a full launch in the fall.

With so much in their hopper, SPRD would love to get more community members involved. They are currently working on a new volunteer page on their website, and plan to post their new strategic plan later this month. In the meantime, Holland encourages community members to attend an SPRD board meeting, held every second and fourth Tuesday of the month, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Coffield Center.

“Board meetings are your chance to be heard, that people don’t often take advantage of. It’s so helpful for our board and staff to hear directly from our community!”

For more information about SPRD, go to Sisters Recreation.

For more information about Sisters Country Vision, go to Sisters Country Vision.