Marco A. Cisneros, or Tony as most of his friends know him as, has had a back door approach to the park and recreation field. He has always worked with the hidden agenda of leaving the world around him in better shape than when he first got there. Ever since he was a child, he was always involved in something having to do with outdoor recreation never knowing that would end up being a major portion of his life-long journey. Whether it was walking three miles everyday in the summer to participate in the learning to swim program offered by the Dallas Park and Recreation Department at the neighborhood swimming pool or planting trees in a new park, Tony was always in the thick of things.
He is and remains a landscape architect that learned long ago the true value of the collaborative effort in any endeavor. He started out as an architectural student with a Fine Arts bent at Rice University in Houston. After deciding that he did not want to spend too much of his time in an indoor environment pursuing one part of a grand project, he decided to head to Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas to study Landscape Architecture in their Masters Program. The fun and games of studios working on such things as urban landscapes as well as a sense of community studies led him to a number of broad interest areas that ultimately helped him to thrive on seeking diversity as a guiding principle for his life.
After graduation, he left for McAllen, Texas where he worked with a design/build landscape architectural firm for a few years. The back door to the park and recreation profession opened when he became the Assistant Superintendent of Parks for the McAllen Parks and Recreation Department. He was actually hired to be the City's Landscape Architect, but that title did not exist in the City's positions database. Being a small department at that time, all McAllen PARD staff had to cross-train in all aspects of the department operations in order to get the job done. There was no program or project that was too big for the small department to handle. Tony learned then that the go-to department if you wanted anything done in the city would always be the park and recreation department.
He spent eight exciting years in McAllen learning about the park and recreation challenges from top to bottom, youth to seniors programs, raw land to finished recreational facilities, TAAF (Texas Amateur Athletic Federation), TRAPS (Texas Recreation and Park Society) and NRPA (National Recreation and Park Society). Recognizing that if he wanted to grow professionally he had to go elsewhere to seek his "fortune", he departed from McAllen and landed once again in College Station, Texas where he had been hired as the Assistant Director for the Parks and Recreation Department.
In College Station, Tony progressed with his on the job training program. He continued to expand his park and recreation expertise into other off the wall special projects such as the City's Emergency Management Program while at the same time changing financial systems and fiscal years. The other hidden benefit of working in College Station was that one of the best educational resources in the nation was situated in the same community. That resource was Texas A&M University (TAMU).
TAMU offered the opportunity for Tony to begin to repay some of his debt related to his formal education. He was able to guest lecture in the fields of landscape architecture, wildlife science and recreation, parks and tourism sciences. In sharing his experience with the students, he was recharging his batteries while always encouraging the students to reach for experience beyond the textbooks. He also built up a great rapport with the faculty in the constant exchange of ideas and challenges to improve the profession.
TAMU also was a source of mutual aide learning experiences as class projects associated with the cities' PARD systems usually dealt with real live situations. Each semester, he was involved with 2-3 class projects that helped to overcome the realities of limited city budgets while at the same time improved the PARD systems. The TAMU professors were successful in working with Tony and his staff in implementing many community workshops and focus groups for the direct benefit of the Bryan/College Station community as well as the indirect benefit of the students.
A few years later, opportunity knocked, and Tony moved "next door" to Bryan, Texas (the adjacent city to College Station) to serve as their new Parks and Recreation Director. He spent the next nine years building and rebuilding the departmental operations there in order to meet the customers' demands for recreational service as well as changing budget circumstances as the economies shifted over time.
One additional aspect of this time spent in the Bryan/College Station area was that he was more directly involved in park and recreation professional associations at the regional, state and national levels. Not content to solely being a member of an association, Tony served many terms as an officer in many varied positions. This included serving as president of some of the state associations as well as a member of the NRPA Southwest Regional Council for many years. During this period, he was able to continue to expand his sphere of influence as he interacted with more park and recreation professionals from throughout the United States and Mexico.
Tony finished his municipal career while serving as the Director of the Parks and Recreation Department in College Station, Texas, having also previously served as the Director of the Parks and Recreation Departments in Mesquite, Texas and Corpus Christi, Texas. While in College Station he continued to seek new and innovative ways in which the recreational service delivery for his department’s customers could be improved and expanded. He understood that his success in the parks and recreation field has only been made possible due to the great people that he has had the honor of working with and, more importantly, learning from throughout the years. He retired in 2010.
During his retirement, Tony served as the 2011 Academy President. He and his family still live in College Station. He is also working once again with the Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning Department and the Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences Department at Texas A&M University on special projects. He cannot sit still. His work in the park and recreation field is not done yet since he has so much left to learn and so many people left to serve. [updated 11/11]