Staff Chats: Tanya Pappa, Natural Areas

Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

Why is it important for communities to have a vibrant and diverse culture?

TP: It is important and crucial for communities to have a vibrant and diverse culture because it allows for more voices to be heard and more knowledge to be gained. When we have diversity in our population, we have diversity in our thoughts, our perceptions and our ideas. Understanding others who may not think or look like you, allows us to all be more compassionate. I hope to see Fort Collins continue to grow in this way.

What excites you about your work?

TP: My colleagues and the youth I work with excite me about my work and allow me to dream for the future in a hopeful way.

What COVID-19 work – from your office or that you’ve worked on personally – are you most proud of?

TP: At the beginning of the pandemic, I remember reading “don’t worry about what we can’t control, but rather focus on what we can create.” I feel my team in Natural Areas did just that. We offered a range of different programming both virtually and eventually in small in-person groups.

The program I facilitate is called Club Outdoors. Typically, we take members from the Boys and Girls Club of Larimer County to Natural Areas. This year we made huge pivots due to COVID-19 and were able to still run programming, but in a different way with the appropriate safety measures. The youth and I met 3 times a week and went on nature walks, completed various activities around topics like mental health awareness and environmental education, and enjoyed lunch from Yampa Sandwich Company. The summer season just wrapped up and we were able to serve around 45-50 kids weekly. It was a great season!

Are there positive ways your work has been reimagined because of the pandemic and current events?

TP: I have felt empowered to share my ideas about how to reimagine programming and professional development within my team and department. I am grateful we collaborate on how to reimagine our future because it is important to continue these processes of evolving for all the communities we serve.

What do you love most about Fort Collins?

TP: I may be biased when I say this, but I love our Natural Areas. The Poudre River specifically has been a place of solace and peace for me since I moved here 9 years ago. I am thrilled that after fostering this relationship with the river, I am able to share it with the youth from the Boys and Girls Club in Fort Collins. I hope they are able to share the same appreciation with their own connection.

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