Ross Nachreiner has worked in the city parks and recreation department in Redwood Falls for more than 17 years. While the majority of that time has been spent working with youth and developing programs for the kids of Redwood Falls, his role changed this fall when he was named the director of the parks and recreation department.

It was in 1998 when Nachreiner, who is originally from Fairfax, first started working with the city.

“I started as an intern working with Vicki Phillips,” said Nachreiner, who at that time was pursuing a degree in recreation and leisure studies at Winona State University.

Nachreiner said at that time the planning for the new community center was taking place in the city.

Finishing his internship, Nachreiner graduated from college, and in May 2000 he was hired as part of the Redwood Falls city parks and recreation department.

“By the time I started working for the city, there were about six months left until the community center opened,” said Nachreiner.

Initially, Nachreiner had a small office space at city hall, but when the Redwood Area Community center opened, he was given a space of his own from which he could help develop the youth program.

“I have always been interested in sports,” said Nachreiner. “Being active is a passion of mine.”

So, being able to help others, especially a younger generation, learn to be active provided Nachreiner just the kind of opportunity he was looking for as a career.

Growing up in a small community, Nachreiner said he was able to participate in summer recreation programs, and while in college he had the chance to do some youth coaching.

“I love working with the kids and helping them find ways to be active and have fun doing it,” said Nachreiner. “To me it has always been more about getting youth to participate and have fun.”

Yes, he agreed winning youth activities is great, but he believes just being involved in programs that are helping develop healthy kids is really what it is all about for him. 

In his new role as director, Nachreiner said he hopes to continue to find ways to work with youth, but he also knows as the head of a city department there are plenty of other tasks that will take up his time.

Nachreiner said he believes now is a good time for him to step up and take on more of a leadership role. No, he said, his role will not be exactly the same as the one Jackie Edwards, who was the previous parks and recreation department director, did.

“Jackie did a lot,” said Nachreiner. “She was great at what she did, and it will be tough to replace her.”

Rather than just jump in and take over the role in the same way, Nachreiner has been working with the city’s administration to come up with a new staffing plan recently approved by the city council. That plan will utilize people who work in the department based on their strengths, said Nachreiner, adding he sees the person who comes in to work with him to be his replacement as someone who can step up in areas Nachreiner knows are not his strengths.

Yes, said Nachreiner, he realizes as the leader of the department he will be much more visible in the community, and Nachreiner said he is looking forward to the opportunity to get out and meet more people in the community and to interact even more with the community center members.

In his new role, Nachreiner said he also hopes to be able to spend more time with his family.

“I do not see myself sitting at a desk all day,” said Nachreiner. “For me this will be a new challenge, but I believe that I am up for it.”