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Wednesday, January 16, 2013 7:34 PM

New ORC workers bring expertise to programming

By CHRIS DUDERSTADT, Herald Staff Writer

With about a month and a half on the job, the Ottawa Recreation Commission’s newest additions already have leapt into action.

Matt Parenti, a former teacher and Bass Pro Shop employee, and Chad Bruner, a 2012 graduate of Emporia State University, joined the ORC as recreation supervisors in early December.

“Both Matt and Chad have done a fantastic job,” Brandy Shoemaker, ORC recreation manager, said. “They’ve jumped right into their positions and have actively started pursuing and developing new programs. Both are working to improve our existing programs, and both will have a substantial impact on the ORC and for the community.”

Parenti will coordinate after-school and team programs, as well as activities and events dealing with the outdoors and nature. He said he thinks his background in teaching at West Franklin and in Olathe helped him net the job with the ORC, 705 W. 15th St., Ottawa.

“Anywhere from fourth grade to high schoolers are who I worked with in education, so it is almost identical here as far as age groups and different people that I’m programming for and preparing for,” Parenti said. “It is really similar in so many ways as far as programming, youth programming and developing them. It is a lot like the education field.”

Parenti’s experience with Bass Pro Shop in Olathe and a passion for nature have driven him to develop a series of outdoor youth programs with ORC.

“What I’ve done is I’m trying to bring into the community something that I don’t think there has been a lot of opportunity with,” Parenti said. “So I’ve began a program, a series if you will, on outdoor education. The first one we’re implementing is trapping and fur handling, along with some things on animal control. It allows for kids or youth that may not even be interested in sports or whatever, but have a strong rural background and rural upbringings.”

Bruner began his work with the ORC just a week after Parenti. He brings his experience from working with the Emporia Recreation Commission to organize camps, clinics, tournaments and special events dealing with adult and youth sports. Bruner earned his bachelor’s degree from ESU in recreation administration and is now working on his master’s degree.

“While I was getting my degree,” Bruner said, “I worked [as] a referee, umpire and dealt with being a site supervisor of different sports complexes, so that helped me get an understanding of what a part-time employees’ work is. Now with being in charge of sports, I can relate to them that way.”

Bruner has been organizing leagues for youth and adult basketball and adult volleyball as well as coordinating youth indoor soccer academies and spring leagues.

“I love being around sports,” Bruner said. “I love the community here, and I like the people I work with. I love the atmosphere of this place. We all work closely together, almost like a family.”

Though Parenti and Bruner only have been with the ORC for a short time, Shoemaker is optimistic about how the two new employees are starting to further develop the ORC and its programming.

“We’re excited to have both Matt and Chad on board and feel that both will have a positive impact on the ORC and will do great things in their time here working for us,” Shoemaker said.

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