We Are Friends Spotlight on Parks Alive Leader, Jason Googins

This is the second in a series of monthly profiles featuring the many people–staff, Board members, volunteers and more–who, together, are Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.

Jason Googins is Friends of Grand Rapids Parks’ first ever Parks Alive Leaders program graduate and his vision and passion for Ken-O-Sha Park is unstoppable. Jason is a Master Naturalist, a master volunteer and a master Friend.


Q: Jason, what got you interested in fixing up Ken-O-Sha Park?
A: I’ve lived in the neighborhood for ages and the park has always had a lot of potential and very little love. A few years ago the park saw a huge increase in crime and I decided that if I could make the park look loved maybe the crime would be reduced. And it has! It is also a great way for neighbors to come together and connect. It is working well in our neighborhood.

Q: Why should students be involved in park improvements and park ownership?
A: There’s so much strong research that shows students perform better when they are connected to nature and have that option to explore and be active in nature. Test scores, reading levels and emotional well being all seem to increase when students have a welcoming park next door. My neighbors, FGRP and the Ken-O-Sha Elementary School are working really hard to give our students that access.

Q: What’s your favorite kind of pizza?
A: ‘The Rachel’ Special, green pepper and bacon!

Become a PAL! Want to learn more about the Parks Alive Leaders program? Click here or give Program Coordinator, Rachel Skylis, a holler at rachel@friendsofgrparks.org.


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