Jamie Kirk, John Caples CPRST MVPs

2 Merit Awards earned locally

Jamie Kirk and John Caples (Cullman Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism’s Jamie Kirk was recently named the 2022 Alabama Recreation and Parks Association (ARPA) District II Merit in Recreation Award winner, and CPRST’s John Caples received the Merit in Parks Award.  

The Merit in Recreation is given to individuals who make a significant impact on their local parks and recreation organizations through leadership, program development and community engagement. The Merit is Parks is awarded to employees whose contributions focus on their local parks’ improvements, maintenance and development.  

“Jamie has served in multiple roles over this past year that have been integral to our department’s programming, events, and marketing efforts,” CPRST Executive Director Nathan Anderson shared with The Tribune. “We are very excited to see Jamie recognized for her success in carrying out a variety of roles on which we heavily rely.”

Kirk came on board with the CPRST team as a full-time employee in 2020. She worked alongside the programs and events coordinator and provided invaluable assistance in marketing, events and programs. Additionally, she worked diligently in expanded the STEAM curriculum by researching and implementing programs highlighting the newest educational advancements. 

In a statement, CPRST also noted Kirk’s achievements over the past two years. 

“In 2021, Jamie spearheaded the development and implementation of two pilot summer camp offerings: Technology Camp and Photography Camp.  The Technology Camp curriculum, offered for ages 5-7 and 8-12, was well received and proved valuable and necessary to our program catalog.  The camp provides an age-appropriate introduction to coding, robotics, engineering, video, and graphics through instructional projects such as building and operating robots, computer game coding and many more engaging activities.   

“In 2022, Technology Camp returned, and Jamie added a Creative Writing pilot.  The Creative Writing Camp, offered for ages 8-12, provides instructional focus on different writing styles and engaging budding authors.  This camp will also return to the catalog, along with Jamie’s STEAM-centric Art and Music camps.” 

Her enthusiasm for education led Kirk to volunteer at Cullman Primary School’s STEM Day in September 2022 where she developed two STEM activities specifically for kindergarteners and first graders. In addition to being recognized as a favorite among the young students, the feedback from the school’s teachers and administrators called her activities “the best,” “the most valuable” and “the most popular” of all the stations. Kirk was recognized by many of her Technology Camp students who greeted her warmly.  

CPRST said, “Jamie has a natural talent and intuitive knowledge of how to create, innovate and evolve program offerings and content to increase interest, engagement and service to our community.  Her focus and impact in the specific areas of Technology and Art have allowed our organization to expand our reach and diversify the groups served, key areas in which we always strive to grow.” 

Caples joined CPRST over three years ago and is described as having “skills and knowledge that span many crafts. His talents in building and fabrication have provided immeasurable value for our organization and community.  John is conscientious of things for which we can place value, such as costs and quality, and those for which we cannot, such as heritage preservation and conservation. His efforts to achieve the goals set before him are always tailored with these things in mind.” 

The restoration of Weiss Cottage, Cullman’s oldest home and landmark, is underway under Caples’ leadership. Built in 1875, only two years after the city’s founding, Weiss Cottage is being restored with love and painstaking detail with the guidance of Caples, whose “expertise in structural integrity and woodworking, as well as his knowledge and appreciation of historic preservation, are essential qualities to ensure that Weiss Cottage remains historically accurate, structurally sound and a beautiful symbol of Cullman’s identity.” 

Caples’ expertise will be visible this weekend during Cullman’s Christkindlmarkt, the open-air Christmas market paying thoughtful homage to the city’s German heritage. The wooden huts are each handcrafted showcasing Caples’ attention to detail and craftsmanship.  

Anderson commended Caples’ talents stating, “It’s been amazing to see John’s talent and knowledge of German craftsmanship come to life through our various events. Having much respect and gratitude for him and his skillset, we are very glad to see him receive this important recognition.”

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