Mark Hickok’s first job as a lifeguard was just the beginning of his career in parks and recreation.
Since then, he has worked for various agencies in Snohomish County and Moses Lake and is now at the City of Redmond, where he is the recreation assistant manager.
Hickok, who has been with Redmond for two and a half years, received his bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation management from Northern Arizona University. He said he pursued a career in parks and recreation because he always had a lot of fun at work.
Hickok said one of the things he particularly enjoys about his job is how parks and recreation can touch so many people — from families to teens to seniors.
“We are here for the citizens of Redmond and we are here to enhance the quality of life,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about for me.”
Last Friday, Hickok spoke at the Redmond Senior Center’s First Friday Coffee Chat, a question-and-answer series that began about two years ago to give the public the opportunity to learn about different city entities.
During the chat, Hickok touched on the various programs that are part of the recreation division of the city’s parks and recreation department. He told the audience that recreation is divided into six sections: sports and fitness, events and marketing, outdoor recreation, business operations, facility rentals and teens and 50-plus.
One of the biggest parts of recreation is the city’s sports leagues, which Hickok said are usually introductory level as private clubs and organizations offer more advanced and competitive opportunities. While Redmond offers opportunities in a number of sports ranging from softball to volleyball to basketball, Hickok said one challenge they face is a facility shortage. He said their fields and courts are at capacity, making it hard to expand their programming.
“We want to do more,” he said. “We could do more.”
On the fitness end of things, Hickok said they usually contract with private businesses to offer classes to the public. He said the city also works with the instructors to make sure classes are all inclusive and accessible to everyone — regardless of their abilities.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” he said.
The recreation division also oversees the variety of events put on by the City of Redmond, including Derby Days, Redmond Lights, Eggstravaganza and this year’s first-ever Great Day of Play. Hickock said they also offer support for events held on city property that are organized by other groups such as Ananda Mela, an Indian cultural event that has been held at the City Hall campus the last two years and organized by the Vedic Cultural Center in Sammamish.
“A lot of people are recognizing that this is a good place to hold an event,” Hickok said.
He added that the city is “looking at some improvements” for the campus such as putting in an amphitheater, to make it more event friendly.
Outdoor recreation is another big part of recreation, Hickok said. He told the coffee chat audience that Farrel-McWhirter Farm Park offers a variety of outdoor programming including an equestrian program, birthday parties and nature stewardship. The City of Redmond also offers a popular preschool program, summer camps for youth and enrichment classes. In terms of aquatic activities there is the Idylwood Beach Park lifeguard program as well as the Redmond Pool, but Hickok said a lot of feedback he receives are requests for more water-related activities.
Hickok wasn’t looking for a job when he applied for his current position with the City of Redmond. He came across the job advertisement on a professional website and said he found the department very appealing.
“It’s a very forward-thinking department,” Hickok said, referring to the city’s various programming opportunities. “We really are a leader in all of recreation.”