Staff Spotlight: Ellen Doolittle Oost
What is your role at The Parklands?
My job is to create and facilitate ways for donors to support our organization, and to make that experience rewarding for them by showing them how it makes a difference for The Parklands and our community.
How does your team keep The Parklands safe, clean, fun and beautiful?
The funds raised through our department help our organization to keep the parks clean, safe, fun and beautiful 365 days a year. Every dollar raised goes to support the operations of The Parklands, so we keep that at the forefront of everything we do. Funds help to keep the bathrooms and trails clean, to create dynamic programs in all 4 parks, to plant native trees and meadows and to provide Park Rangers that help keep our visitors safe. Our team has the unique position of working with the community every day to make sure our other teams have the resources they need to do their job best! We also put on 2 major fundraising events each year, which are both really fun!
What are you most proud of in your work?
I am really proud of The Parklands! When I started here over 5 years ago, the only thing open to the public was the Marshall Playground and Sprayground. So much has changed since then and I’ve gotten to be a part of it all! That is rewarding now and it will be when I take my kids and my grandkids to these parks. Secondly, I’m so proud of the way the community has embraced our parks. Not only are people visiting, but they’re giving back by becoming Members, which means they’re really invested in our success too.
What inspires you to come to work every day?
This project is a really special one—one that will have an impact on our community for the next 100 years. It is not every day that you have the opportunity to be on the ground floor of a new park system, especially one of this size, and one that is so unique because it doesn’t receive tax dollar support. But it’s not just about building the park, it’s about witnessing the positive impacts it has on its visitors—and that’s the really rewarding part. When I first started here, I would tell people I work at The Parklands and only a few would even know what that was. Now, everyone has a story about what The Parklands means to them. Doesn’t get much better than that!
Which trail would you recommend to visitors and why?
When someone is coming to the park for the first time, I always suggest riding a bike along the Loop—you can see so much more that way (and there is SO MUCH to see)! I also always suggest a climb to the top of the Silo, and if you can ride through The Strand, you have to check out the Long Bridge. There’s nothing else like it.
What “hidden gem” would you recommend to visitors and why?
I would say a hidden gem would be the Palisades—you can see them best by canoe or kayak as you paddle through The Strand, or in the fall along mile 63 of the Loop. The “walls” of the creek are incredible there, and it’s easy to forget you’re in Kentucky.
In your opinion, what makes The Parklands worthy of support?
The Parklands is a very unique place. Not many people know that we are run entirely by a nonprofit, rather than the city. But they do know that they love to visit, and that they can come any day of the year, for free. The Parklands is a community treasure, and it’s up to all of us to make sure our parks are maintained not just now but in the future. When you become a Member you are taking real ownership in the park, and the more people we can get to do that, the better off the parks will be and the larger the impact they will make on our city.
How would you say “Thank You” to someone who donates to The Parklands, or who is thinking about donating?
THANK YOU for making the choice to donate your hard-earned dollars to The Parklands. You are helping make this park clean, safe, fun and beautiful every day, for visitors of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. Beyond that, you are helping to provide our community with an asset that will improve our health and economy not just now but a hundred years from now. What a gift!