December 2020 Spotlight Professional

Andre Drummer – Program Specialist with Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation

Describe the scope of your position in parks and recreation.  

I am a Program Specialist with Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation. I am proud to be part of a department that enriches the lives of the people in our community by offering hundreds of programs for recreation. My job includes coordinating, programming, monitoring and communication for family events and activities, preschool classes, and youth and adult programming.

An essential function of my job is building strong relationships with our instructor partners and engaging with the community regarding the programs we offer.

How long have you been with your present agency? 

I have been with the Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation Department for 21 years. I was hired on as a temporary Recreation Specialist where I supported after-school programs and sports programs. As a young adult, I was intrigued by the idea of working for the City. It felt like a natural fit as I played sports and participated in the teen programs offered by the Parks Department. At the time, I didn’t realize it would be the start of my journey towards a successful career in the field of recreation. 

Background experience and previous careers?

I joined the Parks Department as a Recreation Specialist where I was involved in After-School Programs, Summer Day Camp, and Sports Leagues. This led me to a role as a Lead Recreation Specialist where my job duties and responsibilities increased, providing me with growth and leadership opportunities. After years of working as a Recreation Specialist, my career led me to a new role in the department as a Customer Service Specialist. I spent 15 years in customer service, where I managed facility bookings and class registrations. I also managed “The Fun Fund”, a scholarship program that provides opportunities for everyone in the community to take classes or attend camps, regardless of income.  In August 2019, I was promoted to my current role as Program Specialist where I’m even more involved in providing quality programs for the community. 

What were some of your first jobs, and what did you learn from them?

Prior to joining the Parks Department, I worked in retail sales where I learned the essentials of customer service. These early customer service experiences made me realize that I really enjoy helping people. After a few years in retail sales, I realized I wanted to explore other ways that I could help people within my community.

Why are you passionate about the parks and recreation field?

Working in parks and recreation gives me the opportunity to provide programs that impact the quality of peoples’ lives. The variety of recreation programs offered, from our baby gym class to our senior fitness programs, speaks to the commitment we have to serve everyone in our community. I’m fortunate to work for the City of Olympia, as the people who live in the community really celebrate and support our Parks department.

What has been your biggest professional challenge? 

Like all of us, a year ago I would not have imagined we would be amid a pandemic and the impact that would have on our lives. But now, as a recreation professional, I must navigate the reality of limited program offerings in a no-contact society. My biggest challenge is to try to reinvent our existing programs in a way that will continue to engage the community but maintain the safety guidelines needed to fight the pandemic. I believe recreation programs are important during these difficult times as it keeps people active and brings joy to people’s lives. Although these are challenging times, I always keep a positive attitude and am willing to adapt to our changing environment. This keeps me very motivated in my line of work, knowing that recreation is essential in the return to normal life.

What’s the best advice you can give to someone starting out in the field of parks and recreation? 

I learned early in my career that opportunities come in many different forms. Be open to learning and accepting new challenges, even if those moments seem small at the time. Every opportunity to learn will prepare you for the bigger moments and milestones in your career.