Day and night job, overseeing a park
By JANEL STEPHENS
Judy Jarosz, 44, Park supervisor, Boca Ciega Millennium Park, Seminole
How long have you been a park manager for Boca Ciega Millennium Park?
Three years. I was there when the park was being built, assisting and overseeing its construction. We had a sneak preview for the public on July Fourth of 2000 because people couldn't wait anymore. They wanted to see what the park looked like. The grand opening was April 7, 2001.
Is it true you're the only female supervisor out of all the parks in Pinellas County?
There's a female district supervisor, but technically I'm the only female park supervisor.
How many hours do you work?
It's tough to say. Typically, I work 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. I'm in rotation with other staff within the park for weekends and holidays. I'm also called out if there's anything going on in the evenings that may need my attention.
What is your daily routine like?
I come into the office about 6:30 a.m. I have assignments set up for the week and different projects that need to be accomplished in the park. I'm responsible for managing the budget for the park and overseeing the resource management in the park for natural systems.
What does that mean?
We basically have a plan set up to maintain the natural systems in the park. We have seven different natural systems: pine flatwoods, coastal oak hammock, salt marsh, a mangrove swamp, seagrass beds, bay head and wetlands.
How big is the park?
184 acres. I tell you, it's the best-kept secret of Pinellas County. Acre for acre, it's the most diverse park in the system.
What other jobs have you worked in the past?
Prior to this job, I worked as a chief park ranger for the Pinellas County's Pinellas Trail for a year and a half. I was a park maintenance worker for Pinellas County parks department, and prior to that I worked for the Florida state park system. I've been working in parks for 12 or 13 years.
What else do you do at the park?
I'm responsible for overseeing daily operations of the park and its facilities. I do safety inspections on the boardwalk, shelters, and make sure the park is mowed for public use. I also teach in our interpretive and environmental education programs held on the weekends when it's most convenient for the public. I'm also responsible for the inventory equipment within the park.
How many people do you have on staff?
Including myself, there's 11. Believe me, I don't do this alone. The staff is an extension of a park supervisor. It's definitely a team outfit.
How much do you make?
I make $36,000 a year. I'm not going to be able to retire early for it, but it's a comfortable living.
What's the best kind of day for you?
We have a lot of good days on the job. A good day is when the park is full and people are just having a good time and enjoying the amenities and resources.
What's the worst kind of day for you?
It's when a major storm comes through and you've got to clean up the park. We have to pick up debris and fallen branches and things like that. Or when we're under a hurricane warning. Then, we have to try and pack up a park. We have to bring in the garbage cans and make sure the picnic tables, facilities and maintenance equipment are secure.
When does your work day end?
It ends at 3:30 p.m. However, park supervisors are required to live at the park. If I smell smoke in the middle of the night, I have to go out and make sure there's no fire. If I get a call from the Sheriff's Office saying that there may be some disturbance in the park, I have to go and check it out.
So you're basically on call 24-7?
It's a profession that we choose. You know real quick whether you'll make it or not.
Are you able to let loose once in a while or do you have to stay alert at all times?
The majority of supervisors are alert all the time. We have the radios at home and we monitor the radios. We're pretty on the ball most of the time. When you're here you can't get away, but that's what vacations are for. Being a park manager is definitely a lifestyle.
What are some perks on job?
This sounds really corny, but it's the family picnics that you get to watch out here, the people that you get to work with and preserving an area for the wildlife in an urban area.
What other job do you dream of having?
This is my dream job. I'm telling you, I can't believe I get paid to do what I'm doing sometimes and the majority of people in parks will tell you that. I can't imagine doing anything else.
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