Ethan Hipple

Photo by Ben Macri

Ethan Hipple, Director of Parks, Recreation, and Facilities Department for the City of Portland

By Rachel Hurn

As a teenager, Ethan Hipple, director of parks, recreation, and facilities for the city of Portland, took part in a youth corps program that he says changed the course of his life. This year, with funding help from the Portland Parks Conservancy and Maine Audubon, Hipple’s department started a similar program. Portland Youth Corps (PYC) allows a diverse array of young people aged 14 to 17 to participate in service projects in Portland’s public parks. Along the way, they also take part in career exploration, first aid training, environmental education, and outdoor adventures. “I’m so glad our department can now offer that same opportunity to kids who are eager to be part of positive change in this world,” Hipple says. The department has also done much to create new open spaces, particularly at the Park at Amethyst on the eastern waterfront, where a former 1.5-acre parking lot is now a green space with a waterfront bike lane and promenade. “While people may take a vacation or a once-in-a-lifetime trip to go visit a national park, our local city parks and trails are the bread-and-butter places that we visit every day and impact our quality of life,” Hipple says. He’s also proud of the Park and Play program, in which recreation staff visit a rotating list of playgrounds in low-income areas where the local kids may not be able to afford to go to camps. With a van full of fun activities, the staff offer games, craft projects, and free snacks. “The program doesn’t bring in any revenue for our department,” Hipple says, “but I think it represents the heart and soul of the impact we can have on the public.”

Share The Inspiration