What is your role at The Parklands? My role as the garden team/team leader is one that includes much variety. I work closely with the Director of Horticulture to plan and implement staffing needs, volunteer opportunities and the execution of zone management. Zone management divides the 4,000 acres of The Parklands into smaller “zoned” areas; it is within each zone that the gardens, meadows, wetlands, trees and lawns are provided with personalized attention from skilled garden team members.
How does you team keep The Parklands beautiful? As the team leader, I help keep The Parklands, safe, clean, fun and beautiful, but keeping The Parklands beautiful is the garden team’s primary goal. We do this with routine inspections and maintenance of the garden beds, lawns, wetlands and meadows, as well as assisting other departments with trash and occasional graffiti removal. I think Beauty is always evident throughout any season during a stroll, a hike or even a jog through the many gardens and meadows. There is always an interesting bloom to discover, seed head to be noticed or even a crooked branch to be seen. To quote Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” – we hope to provide that opportunity to all the park visitors.
What are you most proud of in your work? If I had to pick one thing I am most proud of, it would be the dedication and camaraderie of the team that I lead, the garden team. We are one of the larger teams in the operations department. We often work individually; however, we know when we join forces on “Team Work Days” to tackle bigger projects we can quickly transform and complete any project. Working as a team ensures that every inch of the park can meet the world-class standards of The Parklands.
What inspires you to come to work every day? Being a part of the bigger picture inspires me to come to work every day. When I first started at The Parklands as an attendant, I knew I just had to be a part of this amazing project. When I was promoted to Garden Team Leader, I began to understand the mission and the impact this park would have on the city of Louisville. As a new grandmother, I want to be able to share with my grandchildren a love for nature and the necessity to protect and maintain the landscape and the mission of The Parklands.
Which trail would you recommend to visitors and why? I have not had the opportunity to explore all the trails of the park, but of the trails I have explored I would recommend Karst Climb in Broad Run Park. I enjoyed the terrain of this trail. As the trail opens and you enter on the south end, near Bardstown road, you hike into a quaint clearing that gradually feeds into the dense stand of trees and seasonal waterfalls. This soft surface trail is just shy of 2 miles and is labeled as more challenging. I think the challenge is worth it, as the trail meanders to the north through several species of trees and wildflowers (notable spring ephemerals), a cedar grove, a small creek with rippling waterfalls; it spills out in the north at the Highland Crossing. It is a great hike for an after work stress reliever or early morning wake-up.
What “hidden gem” would you recommend to visitors and why? In my opinion, this hidden gem is not so hidden anymore. The Strand gets my recommendation as a must see in The Parklands. The Strand offers opportunities to discover and explore natural beauty and wildlife. I enjoy the fork for paddling, fishing or viewing, the palisades, the open meadows, the Kentucky agriculture, the architecture of the bridges and mostly the peaceful solitude of the sounds of nature. The Strand is indeed a special place within The Parklands.
In your opinion, what makes The Parklands worthy of support? Many things make The Parklands worthy of support. Close to my heart are the environmental benefits. In order to enhance and preserve the landscape for the numerous species of plants and animals, there is a continuous need for projects such as The Parklands. As a mother and grandmother, preserving these lands and waterways is essential in order to help our community grow in ways that are healthy and sustainable. With that need comes the need for support to sustain such projects. That support can come not only in monetary ways, but also in voluntary ways. At The Parklands we offer volunteer opportunities in many areas, such as our gardens, the outdoor classroom, and our welcome center. If gardening is your thing, feel free to join us every Wednesday for an opportunity to play around in the dirt, aiding our efforts to keep The Parklands beautiful.
How would you say “Thank You” to someone who donates to The Parklands, or who is thinking about donating? I would just say, “Thank You!” Thank you for supporting this awesome project and its mission. We are fortunate to be able to have this world-class project here in Louisville, in our own backyard to explore now and for our children and grandchildren to explore. If you need a reason to donate, come spend the day on a trail, in a kayak or on your bike. Once you have explored the park, you too will want to be a part of what is making our community enjoyable, sustainable and healthy.
Karen has worked at the Parklands of Floyds Fork in many capacities. Originally hired as an Attendant in 2013, she has also worked in the PNC Achievement Center at the front desk and The Gheens Foundation Lodge as an Event Concierge. As of September 1, 2014 she has taken on the position as Head Zone Gardener. Karen is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with a Bachelor degree in Technical Horticulture and a minor in Floriculture. For the past fifteen years she has been actively involved in providing a hands-on atmosphere for her husband and three children. During this time she maintained a successful, profitable small business as a lawn maintenance contractor as well as a private residential gardener. Along with a passion to make a difference, Karen shares the same enthusiasm as her colleagues, as they continue to contribute to the growth and progress of The Parklands of Floyds Fork. When not at the Parklands, Karen enjoys spending time with her family, pets and just being in the outdoors.