Monday, April 11, 2011

PARC Patrols in Shelby Farms!

Anthony Siracusa: Volunteer patrols keep eyes, ears on Shelby Farms

By Anthony Siracusa
Monday, April 11, 2011
When Shelby Farms Park got longer with the Shelby Farms Greenline in October, the park staff became responsible for the upkeep, maintenance and security of the 7-mile stretch of trail.

But following the lead of trail groups like the International Mountain Bike Association, Shelby Farms Park staffers enlisted park users in the ongoing care of the park by creating Park and Recreation Committee Patrols.

Shelby Farms Park director of communications Jen Andrews describes them as "highly trained volunteers" with training in the basics of CPR and first aid. PARC Patrollers are also instructed in the basics of public relations and park history. Armed with these skills, patrol members serve as ambassadors of the park while they walk, bike or run.

"They serve the park by being our eyes and ears and by serving as resources for park users," Andrews says.
Lisa Overall, a local attorney and vice president of the Memphis Runners Track Club, describes her volunteer service to the patrol as "a meaningful experience. I have provided some basic first aid for a little boy who fell off of his bike, reminded users of park rules with regard to dogs running off leash outside of off-leash areas, and have offered general information and directions to park users."

Andrews says the diversity of PARC Patrollers is an asset. PARC Patrollers are on- and off-road bicyclists, runners, triathletes, dog walkers and kayakers. "The goal" says Andrews, "is for these volunteers to represent the diverse users of the park."

Whenever Overall goes out for a run in the park, for example, she calls the park and lets staff know.
"Because we have such a diverse team," Andrews says, "we always have someone in all parts of the park patrolling."

Patrollers are nominated to serve as stewards of the park by their peers in park-user groups. The Mid-South Trails Association, Mid-South Whitewater and the Mid South Frisbee Society have nominated individuals to serve on PARC Patrols. Volunteer patrollers commit a monthly minimum of five hours' service to the park, which Andrews says is easily met and often exceeded.

In the past six months, the park has trained nearly 40 patrollers with plans to launch another training course next fall.

For Overall, the patrol is "the perfect way to give back to the park for all of the pleasure it brings me."
In PARC Patrols, Shelby Farms Park has discovered a way to combine park maintenance and meaningful volunteer opportunities with a positive impact on communities surrounding the park.

"It's been really fun to get park users together," says Andrews. "The park is so big that folks in the off-leash dog park might not meet bicycle riders using the Wolf River trail, so to get these users in the same room has been very valuable for us."

This community building is the foundation for the user-based volunteer group caring for one of Memphis' greatest assets.

"Who can't be happy knowing they have so much space to run, walk, bike and skate without interference from vehicle traffic -- especially when that space also comes with information resources carrying first aid kits," Overall said.

For more information on the PARC Patrol send an e-mail to Sandee Daniels, volunteer coordinator, at

Anthony Siracusa, a native Memphian, is the community service coordinator at Rhodes College in Memphis. He serves on the board of the Memphis Hightailers, the Greater Memphis Greenline and Bike Walk Tennessee. He is a daily cycling commuter. Contact him through his blog at