On a typical day, Jane Shelhorse can be found running from meeting to meeting, discussing anything from recreation programs to recycling bins along the hiking trails. As the director of Fredericksburg Parks, Recreation and Events, she “just loves it.”
“One thing I do love about this job is that every day there is something different,” she said. “From a big event to our little recreation programs, it’s different every day.”
Shelhorse said she stumbled into a career in recreation. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she spent the summer teaching swim lessons at a senior living community in Silver Spring, Maryland. When a position in their recreation department opened, Shelhorse jumped at the chance to work on their programming. It wasn’t until she became a program director for the YMCA in Cecil County, Maryland that she finally was hooked on recreation.
From there, Shelhorse joined the Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation Department as an assistant program director where she remained for almost 22 years. In July 2007, she took a position as director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism for Louisa County, Virginia, and then in January 2016, Shelhorse returned to Fredericksburg as the director of Parks, Recreation and Events.
“I kind of fell into the job, but thank goodness I love what I do,” said Shelhorse. “I always say being a recreator is more than a job for me. It’s what I am. I feel like day in and day out, we enhance people’s lives, and I’m very proud of what we do here in the department.”
In addition to the sports, parks and trails, Shelhorse and her team are responsible for many of the programs families still enjoy today such as the Soapbox Derby, Picnic in the Park and the Christmas Parade. Much of the planning is simply talking about ideas and adding to them creating either a new family-friendly program or improving an existing one.
“If it sounds good, we go with it,” said Shelhorse. “We’re constantly looking at programs to see how we can improve them and change them to meet the needs of the community.”
Shelhorse lives in Downtown Fredericksburg with her two dogs, Sydney and Buddy. She was married to husband, Jim Shelhorse, for almost 23 years before his death in January 2017. She has one adult son who lives in Richmond as well as two step-children.