It would seem that milestones come in pairs.
On the verge of celebrating almost 20 years with Centre Region Parks and Recreation, Director Ronald Woodhead is getting ready to step down from his post at the end of the month.
While Woodhead is busy packing up his office — he’s in what we’ll refer to as the “planning stage” — the organization he has shepherded for the past two decades is preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Don’t be fooled — there’s still a lot of life left in the CRPR and the same can be said for Woodhead, whose retirement will not be wasted on a shuffle board court somewhere. He plans to whittle away the hours enjoying the company of his two Triumph motorcycles and spending more time with family.
Below, Woodhead talks more about retirement and life post-CRPR.
Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A: I wanted to build things (my dad was a union carpenter), work on a variety of topics and not be tied to a desk for eight hours each day.
Q: What drew your young eye to the parks and recreation program at Penn State?
A: I started out in engineering but quickly realized that I was not interested in doing that for a living. I then discovered the rec and parks program at Penn State and switched to that major in my freshman year.
Q: How do you think that CRPR has evolved during the past 50 years?
A: Over 20 years, the opportunities provided by the agency have grown right along with the five municipalities we serve. This has involved new parks, renovating parks, expanded programs and the increased popularity of local parks and recreation for all ages.
Q: Is there a professional accomplishment or achievement that you’re most proud of from these past 19 and a half years with CRPR?
A: Seeing folks enjoy the facilities we maintain or have improved ... Parks, playgrounds, the two renewed swimming pools, the growth of Millbrook Marsh Nature Center, the new location of the Centre Region Senior Center at the Nittany Mall, the success of the Hess Softball Complex and Oak Hall Regional Park. It’s great to know that your efforts made a positive difference across the community.
Q: Why is now the right time to retire?
A: With five grandchildren, it’s the best time to, one, hand off the baton to a new director with fresh ideas and, two, for this parks and rec director to practice what he preaches about recreation opportunities.
Q: Excluding your co-workers, what’s the first thing you think you’ll miss?
A: The daily involvement with volunteer community leaders to advance (parks and recreation) services across the region.
Q: What’s the farthest you’ve ever traveled on one of your Triumph motorcycles?
A: I started riding (thanks to my dad’s interest in motorcycling) when I was 16. For the past 10 years we’ve put about 10-12,000 miles per year on our motorcycles. The farthest target would have been Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado (in 2014), but we’ve also ridden to Triumph Rallies and events in Ontario, Maine, Vermont, Georgia, Wisconsin and Iowa.
Q: Do you perform your own maintenance?
A: For better or worse, the new bikes have so many electronic systems that the bulk of the maintenance must be done by dealers — but I enjoy doing whatever I can. Our 2002 Triumph is easy for owner maintenance, while our 2015 Triumph (our main ride for trips) is primarily dealer-serviced for this reason. But regardless, they have never left us sitting along the road on an adventure.
Q: Do you think that after a few months you’ll be able to visit one of our local parks without the professional side of your brain going into overdrive?
A: I’ve always enjoyed visiting parks across the state and across the country. I’ll always think like a parks director, but I’ll also not be the person responsible to make things right. So I do look forward to visiting the Centre Region parks and not ending each visit with a longer to-do list.