SANDUSKY — Greene County Parks & Trails’ (GCP&T) director walked away from the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association (OPRA) dinner Feb. 4 with an award — and his staff by his side.
Jon Dobney received the 2019 Harvey Woods Lifetime Achievement Award during the ceremony in Sandusky. Parks and recreation professionals and citizens from around the state were nominated for the awards given that night.
“These individuals really represent some of the best in parks and recreation, past, present and future,” said OPRA Executive Director Woody Woodward. “Each of these winners understands the vital role that parks and recreation plays in establishing and maintaining community and building quality of life.”
Dobney spent 37 years at Ohio State Parks, from laborer to assistant chief of state parks, before taking over Greene County’s department in 2018.
“To say that Jon has a passion for parks is an understatement,” OPRA officials said.
The award is given to an individual who emulates Harvey Woods, who served as a parks and recreation professional and mentored young professionals.
“It’s not about the work we do, it’s about who we are doing it for,” Dobney said. “We get paid to be where other people come to spend their free time. Serve them well.”
After his speech, Dobney was surprised when his staff held up T-shirts — depicting his face on the front, and the words, “Ride the Tiger.”
“It’s one of Jon’s catchphrases that he says about the agency going head first and fast- so don’t fall off or you’ll get eaten alive!” Hanna Lamb, GCP&T marketing and PR specialist, explained.
GCP&T staff later wrote on Facebook: “He empowers those around him to make a difference and he leads by example. We are proud to call him our own!”
GCP&T was also recognized as one of 11 park districts in the state to receive funding under the initiative “Changing Lives One Playground at a Time,” through a partnership between OPRA and GameTime. Staff cut the ribbon on the first demonstration playground site at Fairgrounds Recreation Center in August 2019.