Chet Parker
Northeast Zone Coordinator, Rockford Park District
Pathways A-Team Member

Bio and Professional Experience

Chet grew up a few miles outside of Rockford in a small town called Lindenwood, IL.  He attended both Rock Valley College and North Park University receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Youth Ministry in 2009.  Chet has a passion for working with non-profit organizations spending 10 years working with the YMCA before joining the team at the Rockford Park District in 2008.  He began his career with the RPD working in Therapeutic Recreation and Community Recreation before starting full time in 2010 in the Environmental Recreation and Education Department at the Atwood Center.  It was there that he was introduced to Alignment Rockford. Currently he oversees park maintenance for the RPD.  He has participated in every year of the Academy Expo and more recently has joined the Pathways Team. 

Chet has a beautiful wife Angie, a 1 year old Tasmanian Devil named Lucy and a golden retriever named Ginny.  He enjoys anything outside, often visiting the beautiful parks and playgrounds in the city.  His drive working with Alignment Rockford is based in he and his wife’s deep seeded belief in the public school system.  Chet believes that our school district can be great, but it is the responsibility of the residents of the community to take ownership and make it that way.

While you are a new member to the Alignment Rockford Pathways team, you are a veteran in volunteering for Alignment initiatives. Can you tell us about some of these experiences?

I was introduced to the Academy Expo while working at the Atwood Center.  It was an awesome first year at Jefferson High school and really helped establish my belief in the school district.  It was amazing to see the school district taking a leap and trying something different to engage the students.  After a few years working at Atwood and having great success with building a more and more engaging booth at the Academy Expo, the Atwood Center won best booth in Academy.  After that year, I changed positions in the Park District, the following year it was a showdown between Rockford Park District booths (all in fun spirits of course!)  It took dragging a dead ash tree across town in a bobcat, but the parks department booth won best in academy in 2014!  This rivalry has pushed us to realize that in 2016 a large master Park District booth will be the way to go and we will all take home the prize!  All joking aside, the prize really was not that we won an award, but that we were able to engage students on the highest level.  It is rewarding to see students eyes light up when they realize the potential of what they could do with their career.  This experience makes all the extra work worth it.

Recently a teacher at Roosevelt High School was in need of some raised garden beds, something I have made quite a few of for the programs at the Park District.  I took some reclaimed dock timbers and assembled some raised garden beds for the students at Roosevelt.  This program will help them learn about food production from farm to table.

Why is it important for you to volunteer in these initiatives and what caused you to get involved with the Pathways team?

Anyone who wants to live in this community needs to understand that it will not be a successful one without the investment into our education system.  None of us would be where we are without our education system.  A solid education should not be something that is taken for granted and should be a right of all children in this community.  I believe that the only way to ensure this education for not only my own family but for all students in my community is to step up and be a part of the movement.  Educating our youth is not only the responsibility of the teachers and administration of the school district, but of everyone in the community.  My hope is that any help I can give towards this movement and anyone I can help get involved will further the mission of educating our youth. 

My decision to join the Pathways Team came from this passion for furthering our Education System.  The hype of the Academy Expo can now not only last for the month around the expo, but year round, knowing that the work that I am doing is actively forming the students in RPS 205.  

Is there anything else you would like to add?

It has been a pleasure working with Alignment Rockford, but I would encourage anyone who wants to make a difference to get involved in some way.  There are always opportunities to make a difference in our community. The reward is in knowing you’re making a difference for the next generation.