Dyana Martin, Director: 'Parks and recreation is a business and a joy'
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Tuesday, May 5, 2009
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
HAMPTON — Dyana Martin said she is nothing like her counterpart played by Amy Poehler on the hit NBC television show "Parks and Recreation."
She doesn't sit in her office playing Scrabble on the computer all day and never once filibustered a Town Meeting in order to get one of her projects approved.
"I hate that show," Martin, Hampton Parks and Recreation director, said. "I really do. Everyone thinks all we do is just play games all the time. They don't realize we are running a business. We work hard so other people can play games."
Martin has been the town's director of parks and recreation for over a decade. Prior to that she was the program coordinator in Hampton and then Kennebunk, Maine.
Martin, who's married and has three stepchildren, said she always had a passion for sports and other recreation activities.
As a kid she drew, played soccer and softball, and was even captain of her cross-country ski team at Concord High School.
"But I never thought I would end up doing this for a living," Martin said. "I actually started out as an art major."
Martin said it wasn't until her junior year at the University of New Hampshire that she made the switch.
"I was really bored drawing oranges on tables," Martin said. "My roommate at the time was majoring in parks and recreation, and then the light bulb went off.
"I love sports. I love arts and crafts, and I love making people happy," she said.
Martin said it ended up being the perfect job for her.
"I'm obviously biased, but I think parks and recreation is very important in people's lives," Martin said. "If you don't have good quality of life what do you have?"
And while she said the new NBC comedy show is nothing like what really goes on, she does admit to having a few Amy Poehler moments on the job now and then.
"OK, I was Amy Poehler at Best Buy," joked Martin. "They had three Wii Nintendo systems, but they have this rule that you can only buy one.
"I was like, 'But I need these for the seniors,'" she said. "I ended up buying one, and then having my husband go in and get the other one."
Martin purchased the hard-to-find game systems for the seniors in town in order to restart a popular program that was shutdown when HoloDek Gaming moved out of Hampton.
Martin said her least favorite part of the job is the politics.
"The greatest part of the job is after you've pulled off a successful event or trip, everyone had a great time," Martin said.
Some things town residents may not know about Martin is that she interned at Walt Disney World and even went back to college to get a master's degree in business, while working full-time at the Town Hall.
"At that point, I think I just needed to do something different," Martin said on going back to college. "I had the same life for seven years. I went to work, went to the gym and hung out with friends on the weekends. I took some night classes to meet people and get my brain going, and before I knew it, I had only two classes left to get the degree."
She took those classes and graduated from Southern New Hampshire University in 2001 alongside Hampton Police Chief Jamie Sullivan.
"It was a big deal for my family," Martin said. "I was the first in my family to get a master's degree. It also helps me do my job here better because park and recreation is a business."
Other things you may not know about Martin is that she is a big fan of Journey and the '80s hair bands including Aerosmith and Bon Jovi.
Speaking of hair, she said she hopes '80s hairstyles makes a comeback sometime soon.
"I have to admit, I wish the big hair would come back," Martin said. "I looked better with big hair. The style of clothes can stay put."
Her favorite television show is "Greek" — because it brings her back to her days in a sorority in college — and the movie she can watch over and over again is "The Replacements."
"I love the movie 'The Replacements,'" Martin said. "It's just a feel-good movie. All these normal guys end up being heroes for a while."
Her hobbies include photography, scrapbooking and traveling.
"I have a pin for every place I've been," Martin said. "Every time I go somewhere I buy a pin. It's easier than taking home a huge T-shirt."
When asked where she see's herself in ten years, Martin said she doesn't know.
"I love my job here, and it's a great place to work and live," Martin said. "But I might like to pursue this type of job some place a little bit warmer."