Have you ever thought about working in the field of Parks and Recreation? There are many disciplines that a recreation agency needs in order to operate. In fact, many agencies like the Naperville Park District function much like any other business and need to fill roles in the following areas:  

Customer Service Human Resources
Early Childhood Information Technology
Facility Management Law Enforcement
Finance Marketing
Fitness Park Maintenance
Fleet Planning and Development
Food and Beverage Recreation
Golf Trades

Are You a Good Fit for Parks and Rec?  

As you can see, there are a lot of opportunities to pursue your career interests at a parks and recreation agency and you don't need a degree that's specific to the recreation field. Successful parks and recreation employees are passionate about many of the following aspects:

Outdoors, nature, environment
Enjoying an active lifestyle
Highly collaborative, team-based work environment
Role that requires problem-solving
Ability to make a positive impact
Role that relies on natural curiosity
Opportunities to drive continuous improvement of the work environment
Ability to work for and serve the greater good of a community

Many Applicable Areas of Study

A variety of undergraduate majors are applicable to the parks and recreation industry. Some of the areas of study represented by Naperville Park District staff include (but are not limited to):  

Accounting Landscape Architecture
Automotive/Equipment Technician Law Enforcement
Business Administration Planning
Communications/Marketing/Advertising Public Administration
Digital/Graphic Arts Recreation Management
Education Risk Management
Facility Management Sports Management
Horticulture Trades
Information Technology Turf Management

The Path to Parks and Rec

Learn more about some of our current staff members and their path to parks and recreation. Understand the impact that their knowledge, skills, and passion for the industry are having in the Naperville community while contributing to their overall individual career development and continued growth:

Career Profiles

If you are interested in a career in the Parks and Recreation field, learn what it's like from Naperville Park District staff.

Carol Manderfield

Publications Designer

Ben Palczynski

Park Specialist II

Marissa Kula

Talent Specialist

Allan Barajas

Project Manager

Carol Manderfield grew up in a small town in Illinois where she immersed herself in a range of activities, spanning from athletics to the arts. Uncertain about her career path, she enrolled at the College of DuPage. Ben Palczynski developed a passion for turfgrass management while maintaining lawns in his native state of Iowa. He subsequently pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture. Marissa Kula grew up right here in Naperville, Illinois and has been connected to the Naperville Park District since she was a child, participating in youth programming still offered today. Allan Barajas grew up right next to Phillips Park in Aurora, Illinois and attended East Aurora High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. 
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Kristina McGrath

Fitness Manager

Aileen McEldowney


Spencer Huard

Creative Services Manager

Steven Mertes

Director of IT

Kristina McGrath grew up in Wheaton, Illinois and attended Benet Academy and then went on to complete her undergraduate studies as a student-athlete at Indiana University where she earned her bachelor's degree in recreational sport management. Aileen McEldowney is a park planner at the Naperville Park District. In this role, Aileen is responsible for analyzing park land, open space, and recreational trends while understanding needs within the community. Spencer Huard grew up in Glen Ellyn, Illinois playing park district sports and enjoying nature as much as possible. During high school he developed a keen interest in computers which progressed to designing and developing websites. Steven Mertes grew up in Bourbonnais, IL and Spring Lake, MI, before earning his A.A.S in Computer Information Systems and a B.A in Business and Applied Science with a focus on information technology.
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Listen to ParkTalk Podcast Season 34 Episode 1: Internships

Brad Wilson, executive director of the Naperville Park District, recalls highlights of his internship, which began his career at the District over 24 years ago, and he shares advice for college students currently seeking internships.

Listen to ParkTalk Podcast Season 34 Episode 2: Careers for New Graduates

Marissa Kula, a Naperville Park District staff member, tells how a part-time position in customer service at the Park District opened doors to new career opportunities for her in the field of parks and recreation.

Listen to ParkTalk Podcast Season 34 Episode 3: Science-based Careers in Parks

Ben Palczynski, Park Specialist II with the Naperville Park District, tells how his career has given him flexibility and the opportunity to apply his knowledge of horticulture in his daily work.

Do I Need a College Degree?

There are many careers at the Naperville Park District that do not require a college degree and offer on-the-job training as well as certification opportunities to help staff grow personally and professionally. The best way to learn more about our opportunities is to view our employment opportunities at napervilleparks.org/employment.

Work Here, Play Here

What makes the Naperville Park District a great place to work? According to our staff, there are many reasons:

 “The Naperville Park District is an incredibly team-based organization with such highly-invested staff. It's great because staff are willing to share ideas and collaborate to make the end result of any project or initiative the best it can be. That's one of the main reasons I continue to find enjoyment and satisfaction working at the District - we're always striving for better.”
- Sameera Luthman, Director of Marketing and Communications