Meet your Neighbor: Deborah Jackson

Deborah Jackson made the 600-mile move from Iowa to Kentucky to pursue a master’s in sociology at the University of Kentucky.

While at UK, Jackson said she fell in love with the area and decided to reside in the Commonwealth permanently. After working various jobs with the state for several years, Jackson discovered her passion for parks and recreation.

Now, she gets to work her passion every day. Jackson has been the director of programming and marketing at Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation for nearly three years.

Jackson is currently gearing up for the 2019 Wellness Challenge which kicks off on Feb. 27. She is also hosting a free boot camp class at 9 a.m. Saturday at WCCPR.

Winchester Sun: How did you get started at WCCPR?

Deborah Jackson: I don’t have a [Parks and Recreation] background. I’ve worked for the state health department. I worked for higher education at the state. Then I started coming to the home-school classes here with my kids and then became a fitness instructor. Then the position opened up, and I applied for it, which I’m very grateful for because I didn’t have a background in parks and rec. But I did have the background that they were looking for in terms of work experience.

I’m fortunate I did because I’ve worked in a different field and never thought Parks and Rec would be my passion. But it 100 percent is. I love working here.

WS: How did you get started on your fitness journey?

DJ: I’ve always been very interested in it. I’ve always done a little bit here and there. But it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my children that I got involved in it because I wanted to stay healthy during my pregnancy. And then once they were born, I wanted to get help to get back to health. So I was an instructor down in Richmond for some time. And I came up and started taking classes here, mostly because the home-school program we have here drew me here, we didn’t have anything like that going on at the [YMCA] at the time. And this is a very encouraging facility.

I immediately found a group of people that were supportive. Jeff, who is the director here encouraged me to get certified in TRX. And so I did that, and I became an instructor of TRX and started doing boot camp. And it all just kind of worked out.

Michelle who was here in this position also was encouraging. So I knew this facility was where I wanted to be. It’s super supportive.

There’s a community of people here, there are families, and there are individuals who all kind of support each other … I was in athletics as a kid and going into high school. But it wasn’t until maybe 10 years ago that I got really into it.

WS: What all do you do as the director of programming and marketing?

DJ: So there’s a lot that I do, all of the events that Parks and Rec put on throughout the year. I organize those events. We have the Wellness Challenge that we have here that’s coming up in February. We will have an underwater Easter Egg Hunt, then we have the bicycle rodeo, we have day camp; we have the triathlon. We have a Run for the Paws. Basically, I organized those and get those running and get the volunteers that help make those things successful that’s part of the programming.

Then all of the fitness programmings, many of our classes or our special events related to fitness are part of my job.

Then the marketing, so all of the flyers or promotional materials, any of the social media posts, the websites and those types of things. There’s a lot, but I love it.

WS: What is your favorite part about your job?

DJ: I think it’s the diversity of what I get to do. I think I have a lot, although there’s a lot on my plate in terms of what I’m responsible for. I think if there weren’t that much, it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable … The fact that we have so much room to expand and grow and provide better programming and improve our parks, and all of the things looking forward to the future that is super exciting to me as well…

My job is never the same. And that’s exciting. It’s exciting to think about what the future of this organization holds.

Also, I should say we have great staff … I enjoy coming to work with these people.

Our membership here is awesome. We’re friends with our members. We care about the families that are here. It’s almost like I come to work for a place that I belong to.

I’m not just an employee, but I feel like this is … my home. I want people to feel welcome in our home. I think we do a good job of that … Even going and hanging out up at child watch, all the kids who’ve grown up here. Even in three years, I’ve seen kids grow up, and people grow up and their families. That’s what the best thing is about Winchester Parks and Rec.

WS: What is your favorite program that WCCPR hosts?

DJ: I would say it’s probably a tie between our Halloween festival and our gingerbread house party.

The reason for that is because it is probably the two happiest events we have, the kids that come to those, how happy they are, the parents that come to those.

They are super family oriented events, especially the gingerbread house party. It’s like the best day of the year for us here because it’s just so fun, super fun. Even the preparation for that is fun. We make all the frosting, and we buy all the supplies for that. That’s just a huge staff focused event too. Either one of those. Halloween because I love Halloween. But the gingerbread house party is a serious second.

WS: What’s your go-to fitness activity?

DJ: I think TRX. I think a lot of people don’t know what it is. But for a full body workout, I think it’s the best workout you could do. You don’t have to use weights; it’s all body weight. So you’re not intimidated by heavyweights and things like that.

I’ve seen, people in that class, their bodies completely transform in a matter of months. I think in terms of what we do here, I’m super proud of our TRX program. We have all certified instructors. So we don’t mess around with having uncertified instructors. We have a very well trained staff.

Our fitness staff, by the way, is the best around. We have super dedicated people who have full-time jobs most of the time and come in and be our fitness instructors here.

WS: What’s your advice to people who may be anxious to come to a WCCPR group class or event?

DJ: We always have new people. So that’s one of the things is you’d never be alone.

We also have such a qualified staff teaching those things that they can give you if you feel like you’re not ready to do it, we do have knowledgeable staff who can give modifications.

We’re more of a community feel to everything we do here. We have fun, supportive groups.

So even the first time you’re going to feel like you’re a part of it. We have no outsiders here. You’re not going to be the only new person; we have new people often.

About Lashana Harney

Lashana Harney is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. Her beats include schools and education, business and commerce, Winchester Municipal Utilities and other news. To contact her, email lashana.harney@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0015.

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