SC4 alumna, Port Huron parks and recreation director bettering community through focus on play and advocacy

Port Huron Parks and Recreation Director Nancy Winzer considered a number of career options upon graduation from high school.

“I looked into both college- and non-college-track career opportunities,” Winzer said. “Part of that was because I recall being told once that college was not something that was in my future. I realized, though, that it was important for me to pursue higher education and earn a degree.”

Fortunately for the Blue Water Area community, Winzer followed her passions. She enrolled at St. Clair County Community College to achieve her goal of a college degree. She also signed on as a recruit to the college’s Skippers softball team.

“Admittedly, my grades were not college ready,” Winzer said. “I had some deficiencies in math and English, but I took the classes needed and worked hard to get to a collegiate level. The professors and staff at SC4 helped me tremendously. I also found a great deal of support on the softball team.”

Winzer gained a great deal of confidence during her time at SC4 from 1988-90, completing transfer credits needed to continue her education at Central Michigan University. In 1992, she graduated from CMU with a bachelor’s degree in recreation administration with a concentration in therapeutic recreation.

Upon graduation, Winzer returned to Port Huron and worked as the physical director at the YMCA before beginning a 25-year career with the City’s Parks and Recreation Department. She also went back to school to obtain a master’s degree in public administration, which she earned from CMU in 2004.

Winzer was named director of Parks and Recreation in 2010 and is responsible for leading efforts to refurbish and improve area parks. She and her team have brought more than $3 million in grants and donations to the city and have renovated numerous parks such as Lakeside Beach, Sprout City and Palmer Park. In her role, she works closely with her teams at the Palmer Park Recreation Center, Parks and Forestry, Lakeside Cemetery and McMorran to make Port Huron a better place to work, live and play.

According to Winzer, she is driven to make a difference in creating innovative, affordable play and youth sports opportunities for all children and families. “There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a child outside in a park happy,” she said. “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to positively impact our region and will continue to do this important work for many years to come.”

She also remains very connected to SC4 and its Athletics Department. Along with Celina Grondin, SC4’s women’s golf coach and director of institutional research, Winzer co-chairs the newly launched SC4 Michigan Promoters of Women’s Equal Rights in Sports (SC4 MPOWERS) group, which was designed by the college to support and advocate for women coaches and athletes.

“Girls in sports need woman coaches as role models every day,” Winzer said. “We need to encourage more woman to coach to give girls in sports the support they need to be great woman in the future. MPOWERS allows the college and community to work together to bring greater awareness to this need and take action.”

Looking back on her college and career path, Winzer is grateful she persisted in achieving her goals and says she truly enjoyed her time as a Skipper.

“SC4 is an important institution in setting people up on a pathway to success,” she said. “Without the opportunity to go to SC4, I would not have had the means or the grades to go to a four-year university. SC4 gave me the tools I needed to show that I could go to college and also the confidence I needed to continue on. I have always treasured my time at SC4 and with the Skipper softball team, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity.”

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