PPA Profiles: Shanny Tan
January 12, 2015
Since its founding in 1987, the Prospect Park Alliance has grown from a grassroots organization to an internationally recognized leader in urban parks management. Its acclaimed volunteer program, which engages more than 4,400 volunteers who provide nearly 22,500 hours of service each year, has recently attracted the attention of Singapore’s National Parks Board. Over the last year, the Alliance hosted two of its staff, including Park Maintainer Shanny Tan, who manages volunteers in Bishan Park, a 153-acre linear urban park in central Singapore that features a 3-kilometer meandering river enlivened by pond gardens and river plains.
Shanny joined the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about creating a culture of volunteerism at Bishan Park, which hosts a number of school volunteer groups but would like to increase individual park stewardship. She spent her time on a variety of projects, working alongside volunteer program staff. She took a leadership role managing the weekly Thursday Volunteer Corps, and also the recently launched Junior Volunteer Corps and Volunteer Leader programs. Shanny also worked closely with the Alliance’s Director of Volunteer Programs, Jessica Jamhoury, to develop training materials and help streamline operations.
Shanny explains, “One of the main reasons we approached the Prospect Park Alliance is to learn more about engaging communities. My colleague Nanthini Elamgovan, who joined me for this program, visited New York many years ago and learned about the success of its volunteer program. We would like to encourage active volunteerism in Bishan Park in order to forge a stronger connection between the park and its visitors.”
The National Parks Board is an organization set up by the Singapore government to improve the island’s park system, and is currently launching a diverse volunteer program that includes conservation, gardening, guided tours, and guest services. “I am always so touched by how much people care about Prospect Park,” Shanny said. “It is so beautiful, but it’s really about the people. The volunteers really form true friendships forged through their love for this wonderful place.”