World Parks Academy (WPA) and National Association of Parks and Recreation of Mexico (ANPR) Launch Academia Parques and Online Certification Curriculum for Latin American Parks Professionals
In November 2021, World Parks Academy (WPA) and the National Association of Parks and Recreation of Mexico (ANPR) launched Academia Parques and released their first online certification curriculum targeted to Latin American parks professionals. Discussion about the project started in 2019 between ANPR, World Urban Parks, World Parks Academy, and Eppley Institute. Unlike the US, where universities offer Bachelors, Masters, and PhD programs in Parks and Recreation Management, Latin American universities do not offer academic degree programs in the field. While some parks personnel might have architectural or engineering degrees, most of the people in the industry have little or no educational background in Parks Management. The objective of Academia Parques is to serve as a hub for the Spanish-speaking community involved in public space management. These certifications help to fill in knowledge gaps in education and the professionalization of everyone working in urban parks and public spaces. Curriculum addresses issues of administration, special programming, legislation, and design, among others. It is targeted to both public and private sector employees, anyone interested in improving their professional practice.
The first certificate program is for Facilities Management, which will address six of the eleven WPA competencies: Operations and Maintenance, Asset Management, Resource Management, Landscape and Horticulture, Leadership, Business Acumen. The goal is to grow the program to 23 courses that address these competencies. Maria Perez, Special Projects Coordinator for ANPR translated the courses and adapted them for the Latin-American context. She says, “Having an opportunity to step back from daily operations, parks professionals can see how things can be improved for them and their communities. We also want to make the program a community where learning goes both ways, not simply from teacher to student, but where everyone learns from each other. This way we can grow with each generation of graduates.”
The project involved translating material into Spanish but also adding Latin American cultural and societal context to the teaching of WPA competencies. There are numerous differences in parks management between Latin America and U.S. that had to be addressed in the curriculum in order to make the content relevant. One example is the course Financing for Capital Improvements, which talks about securing money from different sources such as donations. This is realistic in the US where there is a strong culture of donation, but that is not the case in Latin America. The course material is being adapted so that parks personnel in Latin America learn other ways to finance their programs.
Layne Elliott, project manager at Eppley Institute, spent a year organizing the logistics of reviewing and publishing the e-courses and provided tech support. He’s currently working on Eppley’s next collaboration with ANPR, the translation of Eppley’s Playground Maintenance Technician (PMT) courses into Spanish and adapting them for Latin American professionals. World Parks Academy anticipates future collaborations with park professional organizations in other countries and the translation of Eppley’s suite of certification programs into other languages.
Luis Romahn, WPA Vice Chair and President of La Asociación Nacional de Parques y Recreación is excited to see the first of such certification programs launch. “Being an online program, it provides students the ability to work at their own pace,” he says, “This is really a great step for the organization and it has been thanks to the effort of all the parties involved.” Learn more about Academia Parques.