Town of Unicoi's parks and rec director excited about new position

Brad Hicks • Oct 29, 2013 at 8:52 PM

UNICOI — For Kristen Robinson, several words come to mind when asked to describe her experience in the town of Unicoi thus far.

“Perfect. Awesome. Great. Fantastic. Outstanding. I’m loving it,” she said.

Oct. 21 marked Robinson’s first day as the town’s parks and recreation director. She takes over for previous director Travis Barbee, who accepted a position in the Durham, N.C., area.

Robinson, a native of central Florida, brings a diverse background to the post that includes working with afterschool and outdoor education programs, halfway houses, time spent teaching in Uganda, and years as a venture guide, through which she has worked in Tennessee, North Carolina and West Virginia. Prior to signing on with the town of Unicoi, she worked for Big Creek Expeditions along the Pigeon River in Hartford as a whitewater rafting guide.

She earned a Sociology degree from the University of South Florida and is working toward an online Master of Science in Park and Recreation Management degree from Maryland’s Frostburg State University.

Robinson said her affinity for the outdoors began at a young age. She spent summers in her youth at the Rockbrook Camp in Brevard, N.C., and was encouraged to appreciate the outdoors and the activities it offers by her grandmother.

“I’ve always loved the outdoors,” she said. “I was always the kid who was playing outside.”

Through her time spent on the rapids as a guide, Robinson was previously introduced to the Nolichucky River. After having worked on the Nolichucky in the past, she said the opportunity to work in the area in a capacity that emphasises the outdoors was one she couldn’t pass up.

“Of all the rivers I’ve ever worked, and I’ve worked a lot, this place is one of the most beautiful places I have been,” Robinson said.

As far as goals for the town of Unicoi’s Parks and Recreation Department, Robinson said she she would like to offer hunting, fishing, gun safety and water safety classes. She also said she would like to bolster the town’s farmer’s market, as well as encourage more women and children to take part in outdoor acitivities, such as flyfishing and geocaching. She said she woudl also like to construct an interpretive trail somewhere within the town.

“I haven’t found a location just yet, but we’re looking at a few locations,” Robinson said.

Other ideas Robinson has include the possible installation of a bike-washing station at the trailhead of the Pinnacle Fire Tower Trail and looking to partner with local biking clubs to hold more events at the trail.

Robinson said she is looking for volunteer, as well as idea and program proposals. She can be reached at unicoiparksandrec@gmail.com.

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