Henry Coppola

Urban Park Management Certificate

Henry Coppola
"The program touched on many aspects of the work that I do. It made me rethink our routine practices, and exposed me to new things that I am now more prepared and interested to incorporate into my role [at Montgomery Parks in Maryland]."

Volunteer Services & Community Partnerships Coordinator, Montgomery Parks, M-NCPPC, Montgomery County, MD

What drew you to the field of urban park management? What is the most gratifying aspect of your job?

I am interested in how people interact with and impact the natural world. For many people (maybe even most people), this interaction happens in park systems and increasingly in urban parks as we become more urbanized around the world. Helping people discover their local parks is always a rewarding and gratifying experience.

Why did you choose the Urban Park Management Certificate, offered by the Central Park Conservancy and the CUNY School of Professional Studies?

The Central Park Conservancy has a great reputation for providing education and training focused on urban parks. I really enjoyed my conversations with staff at events like the NRPA conferences, as well as the newsletters and other informational emails that I receive from them. Having this program offered through the CUNY School of Professional Studies is a nice way to provide more structural support for students and to indicate the seriousness and value of the educational aspects of the certificate program, especially for people who are not as familiar with the Conservancy. The certificate was also eligible for our organization’s Tuition Assistance Program, so it was extremely affordable.

What is the most significant impact you will have on your park as a result of applying what you have gained from this program?

I think this program will broadly improve and support my day-to-day work in our parks. The program touched on many aspects of the work that I do. It made me rethink our routine practices and exposed me to new things that I am now more prepared and interested to incorporate into my role.

Tell us about your experience with completing the certificate program as a fully online experience.

I liked most of the online setup; the modules and readings worked well. The program also allowed for flexibility in scheduling weekly work. I did have some trouble engaging with my fellow participants, so think improvements can be made in that area.

How did you balance participating in the certificate program with the priorities of your career and personal life?

I mostly worked on the program tasks in the evenings and on the weekends with some time spent during the workday on modules that directly applied to my regular work efforts.

What was your favorite unit in the program? Why?

I thought that the units fit together pretty well, making it a little hard to pick a favorite. I am a big proponent of checklists so I really liked “Making checklists for tasks in urban parks,” and I think that the “Engaging communities” unit did a great job of providing tools and stressing the importance of community engagement.

What advice would you offer someone who is considering applying for the certificate?

Go for it! I think that the program will provide you with some new insights and tools while serving as a refresher on some things you might already be familiar with. The certificate will also help indicate your interest in continuing to learn and grow in your position and career.

Read more about The Essentials of Urban Park Management Certificate