Hi, my name is Sarah Barnett Nemeth. Growing up in Urbana, I participated in a myriad of wonderful activities offered by the Urbana Park District. My earliest memories involve splashing around with my family in Crystal Lake pool, a gigantic circular pool with the diving tower smack dab in the middle! The unique design resembled a beach, gradually getting deeper as one got closer to the diving tower. It’s been remodeled twice, with the current design appealing to lap swimmers and thrill seekers alike (e.g., climbing wall and various slides). I have never lost my love for swimming, formulated during my early years at Crystal Lake.
The Urbana Park District’s summer youth programs at various grade schools provided many memories as well. Tony Clements was the head honcho at Yankee Ridge and it was nothing but fun when you were around Tony! In the 1970s, I learned to play tennis at Blair Park through the park district program and worked there in the evenings when tennis was so popular the park district could charge a nominal fee for court time. Tennis is still my second favorite sport and, along with swimming, are activities I plan on enjoying for many years to come.
Located immediately west of Urbana High School, Carle Park is a relaxing destination for many Urbana high school students. I remember one beautiful fall day when our math teacher, Carl Smith, decided to take our entire class over to the park for football. Who knows–maybe he justified the outing as studying the various shapes of parabolas created by the football passes? Seems plausible to me!
Then there’s Meadowbrook Park — an amazing place during each season. Inevitably, I see friends along the path, so my walks often take longer than expected, but are always more enjoyable that way. I remember the sense of community I felt when helping build the awesome play park, which has been enjoyed by families ever since.
Fifteen years ago, I obtained my Master’s degree in Leisure Studies at the University of Illinois that reinforced my thinking of how important quality of life issues are. And as you can see, the Urbana parks have been a big part of my life over the years, shaping my experiences and creating lasting memories in the process. As such, it wasn’t a big leap for me to join the Urbana Parks Foundation. I realize how vitally important parks and park district programs are to an individual’s well-being and quality of life. The Urbana Parks Foundation’s mission of financially assisting the Urbana Park District (with projects beyond its funding ability) — to help enhance the experiences of all community members in the present and far into the future — is all about paying it forward. Count me in!