Employee Highlights


(No picture by name & year indicates no longer employed as of  July 2020)

Nick Largent, Summer 2019

Lucas Hardgrove

I have joined the Mason City Recreation team as the Multipurpose Arena Manager.  I am originally from Owensboro, Kentucky where I previously served as a Recreation Supervisor at the Edge Ice Arena.  I have a passion for hockey as will as baseball and golf.  I will strive to make the new arena the best it can be by bringing in several sporting events, concerts, trade shows and festivals for the community to enjoy.  When I am not at work, you can typically find me traveling across America, at a country music concert or playing golf.  I look forward to seeing what Mason City can become in the future!

Nick Largent, Summer 2019
Nick I have just joined the Mason City team to be the Clubhouse Manager for Highland Park Golf Course and organizing local special events throughout the year for the Recreation Department.  My passion is to grow the game of golf and working with the public of Mason City to bring excitement to not only golf but children's events during the course of the year.  I have my Bachelor in Business Administration at New Mexico State University where I also received my PGA license while playing golf.  I have been blessed to work in and out of state at different golf venues while interning as a golf professional.  I recently got married this past fall to my wonderful wife Catherine.  When I'm not at work you typically see me golfing, working on my yard with my golden retriever, or going to small town cafes and diners with my wife and visiting some of the great places and events that Mason City and North Iowa have to offer!

Donna Brown, Summer 2018
Donna BrownI have recently joined the MC Parks & Recreation Department as the Office Manager.  Previously I worked for the Development Services Department and the Finance Department.  I am excited to continue my journey working with the City.  I have a degree in Accounting and love working with the public.  I am originally from Mason City.  I enjoy seeing many familiar faces and working with children who are excited to be in our programs.  When I am not working I enjoy golfing, cycling and traveling.  I also enjoy spending time with family and friends!

Danya Thoms, Summer 2018
Danya ThomsI grew up in Mason City, IA and worked part time for the Mason City Parks & Recreation Department for 9 years.  After getting my BA in Leisure, Youth and Human Services at the University of Northern Iowa, I did my internship at Urbandale Parks & Recreation Dept. and worked part time as a Recreation Programmer Assistant.  I missed my home town and moved back to Mason City to become the Recreation Programmer overseeing Aquatics, Adult Sports and childcare.  Some of my hobbies are boating, playing with my dog, playing volleyball and softball, spending time with family and cheering on the St. Louis Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings!!!

Anna Francis, Summer 2017
I have been working for the Mason City Recreation Department for four years after this summer, I started as a lifeguard at the MCFAC in 2014, right after my freshman year of high school and now I will graduate in June of this year.  Throughout these last few years I have worked as a lifeguard, tumbling assistant, basketball supervisor, kindergarten soccer referee and have worked at the Before and After School Program at Harding.  I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of working for the Recreation Department because the people are great and always very helpful!

Penny M BennettPenny M Bennett, Summer 2016
I have enjoyed working at the Mason City Recreation Department for over 30 years.  I started as a Playground Director at Harding School in the summer of 1982.  I have watched a lot of children grow up and they now have children and grandchildren in programs!  I cherish all of the relationships that have developed over the years with staff, coaches, parents and vendors.  When I am not at the office, diamonds or fields I enjoy reading, sports, walking at LCNC, spending time with family and my husband, Bob.  I look forward to many more years of putting teams together, recruiting coaches & staff and yes even officiating!


Dion King, Fall 2015

Dion King   I am a life-long resident of Mason City, I am married to my wife of 24 years, Sandra and have 3 kids.. Their names and ages are Wesley (22), Taylor (21) and Jenni (17).  I first got involved with the Mason City Parks & Recreation programs a few years out of high school.  I coached my kids on a soccer team and had a great time doing it.  I got into coaching at the junior high and high school levels and have always loved those early days helping and coaching the kids in their respective sports.  The feeling you get when youth work at something, putting in the time and effort and getting results makes you feel the importance that a coach/mentor brings to the table.  I now referee at the junior high and high school level but still make the time to referee at the lower development ages.  It really is a rewarding experience and a great organization to work for.  Thank you Mason City Park & Recreation for all that you do and offer.


John Gansen, Summer 2015

Jon Gansen I started at Highland Park, March 1986.  Became the Superintendent of Grounds in January 1988.  I have enjoyed my time at Highland, since my first day as a crew member.  People I have worked with, to the many pass holders and players, past & present, I have formed relationships through daily interaction.  Weather is the biggest challenge that makes my job both rewarding and challenging.  It always dictates what maintenance is performed to the course each day, and makes each day different.  The winter allows me to reflect on the past season and evaluate procedures maintaining play conditions, sharpen & evaluate equipment to help insure a productive season.  My position has taught me the most, and problem with the grounds, equipment, personnel & customers can be resolved.  I will be married 25 years in September to my wife Karri.  I would like to thank her for understanding that the golf season, at Highland is a seven day a week responsibility.  We have 2 kids, Bobbie our cat & Boo our black lab.  My hobbies are golf, hunting, fishing, woodworking and small engines.  I feel fortunate to have a career that allows me to be outside in nature & feel a sense of accomplishment.


Karl Schaper, Summer 2014

 Several years ago I was hired by the Mason City Recreation Department to officiate various sports the department was  offering to students from 3rd to 6th grade.  The games I was assigned to do were Soccer, Basketball, Flag Football and T-Ball.  It took only a few outings for me to become hooked by the way this particular operation was organized.  I am a long time member of the Iowa High School Athletic Association, the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and the North Iowa Officials Association, so it became very clear to me that I should apply my experiences as a referee to the young players  just starting their sport's career by introducing them to the rules and regulations of their chosen activities, plus instilling in them sportsmanship and fair play.  It is amazing to see the improvements they are making in their skills from one year to the next, thinking that I may have been a part in their development in sports and in fair play makes me proud.  A big thank you should go to the parents of those young students who enroll them in any of the activities offered by the Mason City Recreation Dept.  all of them deserve my greatest respect.

Ryan Olsen, Summer 2014

I grew up in Story City, IA and was always interested in recreation. After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa, I completed my internship with the Mason City Recreation Department in the summer of 2011. Before taking the position of Clubhouse Manager/Special Events for the City of Mason City, I worked in Garner, IA as the Recreation Coordinator for the Parks and Recreation Department. Some of my hobbies include being outside, playing sports and cheering on the Chicago Cubs!

 Julie Hamann, Summer 2013

Julie Hamann 2013 recreation  For the past six (6) years I've worked part-time for the Recreation Department.  I work at the Adult Softball Complex in the concession stand for the summer and fall softball leagues.  I enjoy working at "the diamonds" and getting to know the ball players and working with the rest of the crew (you to Doc).  I also enjoy getting to catch a game or two every now and then!  I am married to John and we have 2 grown children, JoElla 28 and John Jr. 26.  We are also grandparents to Charlie Jane who is 4 years old.  The rest of the year I enjoy spending time with the family and friends, VIKING football, get-togethers and Sunday BBQ.


Whitney Miller, Summer 2012

I have worked for the Parks and Recreation Department for 7 years.  I started out as a lifeguard for the Family Aquatic Center, and last summer I took over the manager position.  I enjoy being able to interact with the public and making the summer an enjoyable one for the kids and their families.  When I'm not working I spend my time with family and friends. 


Rachel Herman, Summer 2011

I completed my internship with the Mason City Recreation Department during the summer of 2010 and have been employed with them since August 2010 as the Assistant Program Coordinator.  I grew up here in Mason City and attended Newman High School.  After high school I attended North Iowa Area Community College for two years then went to the University of Northern Iowa where I received my BA in Leisure, Youth and Human Services.  In my free time I enjoy being active and playing sports, especially volleyball.  I also love being outdoors, whether its is taking walks or playing with my dogs.


Brian Pauly, Fall 2010

Brian PaulyPlease welcome Brian Pauly to our staff.  Brian grew up in Ankeny, Iowa and is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa.  He has a BA in Recreation Management and is working towards his Masters Degree in Recreation.  He worked as a Child and Youth Program Administrator for Naval Air Station Key West.  Brian lived in Key West for 6 years.  Brian and his wife, Robbie, moved back to Iowa from Florida this June to be closer to family.  Brian loves living in the Midwest and feels Mason City is a great place to start a family.


Linda Crooks, Summer 2010

I have worked for the Recreation Department for almost 20 years a their part-time/seasonal secretary.  My husband, Dale and I have 2 grown children and 4 beautiful grandchildren, whom we are so proud of and love more than life itself!  Being a grandparent is the most wonderful, rewarding and exhausting joy in the world.  My hobbies are camping, reading and fishing now and then with our granddaughters.  I love my job at the Recreation Department.  Especially seeing and talking with the kids about the programs they are signing up for.  It brings our the Grandma in me.  Hope to see you during registration for our Spring & Summer activities!

Lyndsay Lingbeek, Fall 2009
Lyndsay has been working with the Recreation Department for one year. Lyndsay and her husband, Rustin moved here form Owatonna Minnesota in June of 2007. She works for our Fun N Sun summer camp as well as Before and After School Program. Along with working for the Recreation Department Lyndsay also works for the Mason City School System. Her and Rustin love to spend time on their motorcycle and be outdoors. She also enjoys going horseback riding, hunting and exercising. Lyndsay attended Southwest Minnesota State University where she earned he B.S. degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education.  

 Sheridan Penney Fall 2008

Please welcome Sheri Penney to our staff. Sheri grew up in Williamsburg, Iowa and is a graduate of the University of Iowa. She has a BA in Elementary Education and minor in American Sign Language. She recently got married last February, her husband Chris and her bought a home here in Mason City. Sheri is a huge fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes and attends every game. Sheri's program responsibilities include: Before & After School Day Care, No School Day Camps, Winter and Spring Break Camps, Fun N Sun Day Camps, Snack with the Easter Bunny, Easter Party, Tumbling Lessons, Cheerleading Camps, and the Vikings and Chanhassen Trips.

Sandy Anderson Summer 2008
Sandy has been involved with aquatics from a young age. While in high school, she was a member of the 1989 MCHS Girls' State Champion Swim Team, and also worked at the city pool as a lifeguard. Most recently, Sandy has worked for the Parks & Recreation Department for the past 5 years. She is currently the Aquatic Center Manager & Swim Lesson Coordinator. Sandy is a certified Lifeguard Instructor, CPR & 1st Aid Instructor and a Water Safety Instructor Trainer. She enjoys all aspects of her job from training and supervising lifeguards to teaching young children to swim. When she is not working for the MC Parks & Recreation Department, she is a substitute teacher in the Mason City Schools and an Assistant Coach for the MCHS Girls' Swim Team. Sandy's husband, Wade and her live in Mason City, where she will continue to share her knowledge, skills and love for the water with our community.

Steve VandendenBerg - Summer 2007
Steve VandenBerg Steve loves his wife, Tracy and 2 boys, Josh (8) and Brian (5). He is involved with soccer, t-ball, flag football and basketball. Steve's Passion is coaching/instructing tennis. He has enjoyed having fun with students and seeing the growth of students in character, size, talent and intelligence. Tennis is an awesome lifetime activity. We start with fun activities which help students grow into the more complex skills we learn later - skills used in traveling teams and VandenBerg. Steve hopes to see all of you on the courts this summer!!


Brandon Nemmers Fall 2006

Brandon grew up in Bancroft, Iowa and is a graduate of North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) and the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). He graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Leisure, Youth and Human Services from UNI. Brandon enjoys watching and playing many sports. He is an avid fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes, Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Vikings. Brandon and his fiancee, Erica reside in Clear Lake.

Rich Millard Summer 2006
Rich has worked for the Mason City Recreation Department for the past 10 years as an adult softball umpire. Each year he hs gotten certified through the Iowa ASA. Prior to becoming a certified umpire Rich had been an active player for 25 years. Rich said, "I like being involved in the game and around all the great people," when asked what he enjoyed about working for the Recreation Department. Rich has also coached girls' softball through the department and coached Little League for 8 years.
When he is not doing anything related to softball, Rich works for the Department of Transportation which he has been employed with for 22 years. he also enjoys spending time with his 3 grandchildren Kaylee, Maya and Nora.  Rich has been married to Deb for nearly 34 years and has 3 children. Kimberly, Tony and Bethany. Congratulations Rich on being selected for the Employee Spotlight and thanks for being such a great employee!!!

Sara Adams Fall 2005
I have worked for the Recreation Department for 3 years. I have done various jobs over the years from officiating softball, coaching/teaching basketball, Tiny-Tot T-Ball, Tiny-Tot Sports Camps, supervised many camps & softball, worked concession to doing diamond crew. I directed Tot-Lot for 2 years and Fun-N-Sun for 1 year. I worked the last school year at the Before & After School Program and will continue to this school year.  My favorite part of my job is working with the kids throughout the school year and summer. I enjoy interacting with the kids and watching them grow up throughout the school year and summer.  I am a senior at Buena Vista University on the NIACC Campus. I am majoring in Elementary Education and have plans to coach in the future. I love playing sports like basketball and softball (fast pitch & slow pitch), and being outside in the summer, lying out at Big Blue with my friends.
My parents are Doc & Jody Adams, who live in Mason City. I have a younger brother Kris, who is a junior at Mason City High School.

 Jenny Platts Summer 2005
Jenny has worked for the Recreation Department for four years. She has done various jobs over the years. She has officiated softball, soccer, basketball and volleyball. She has also worked for diamond crew for three years. The favorite part of her job is working with the Tiny-Tot Sports Programs. She enjoys interacting with the kids and watching them grow as the seasons progress. Jenny is currently attending the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) and plans on coaching in the future. She loves playing sports and being outside in the summer. Jenny's parents Don and Deb live in Mason City. Jenny has two sister's April and Sara and both go to the University of Northern Iowa.

Donnie Schwade Fall 2004
Donnie Schwade Donnie has been a volleyball official for 13 years. He lives outside of Nora Springs on the family farm where he raises livestock and grain. Donnie likes to golf, play volleyball and collect old John Deere tractors. Donnie has his parents and one brother who lives in Nora Springs along with another brother in Mason City and a sister in Belmond.



Merle Brandau Summer 2004
Merle has been an ASA Sanctioned umpire for 15 years and has worked to the MC Recreation Department in the capacity for 15 years. He works at IMI Cornelius and has been there for 15 years. When asked what he likes about being an umpire he says, "I like the challenges of applying rules and making the right call in the short time you have on whether a player is safe or out." He also states that it is very satisfying to hear compliments from players even though you are not 100% right.
Merle likes to go hunting in his spare time and has a new hobby of late model racing as part of a pit crew as his softball playing days are on the decline. Merle has a wife Barb, of 23 years. He has a daughter Tina and her husband Antonio. Added to that he has 3 grandchildren: Gage (7), Ana (2) and Victoria (7 months).

Bryan Sage Fall 2003
My wife, Carol and I have five sons. Nathan 15, Trevor 14, Spencer 12, Lane 9 and Gregor 6. We also have done some foster parenting for about 10 years. I work for the Mason City High School, in the Special Education Department, it has been 13 great years. Those kids are so rewarding to work with. I have coached and refereed for the Recreation Department for over 13 years, which I have enjoyed very much. My way thinking is the same as the Recreation Department, that winning is not everything, that kids need to have fun and learn the sport that they are in. A good year for me is to see kids on the team become friends. As coaches we become a big cheerleader on the sidelines to encourage your son or daughter to do their best.

 Sue Deike Summer 2003
Sue has been involved with the city's Recreation Dept. programs for over 25 years. When she and her husband, Al, first moved to Mason City in 1976, she could be found on the adult softball diamonds playing ball in the summer and in the winter on the volleyball courts. She currently spends her time with the Recreation Department as a youth softball umpire and an adult volleyball referee. Sue has been involved in the youth softball program for many years. Her first involvement was as a coach for her daughter's softball team and as the M&M fundraiser chair for several years helping raise funds for the Norris Youth Softball Complex. Sue strongly believes in the department's mission. “Sports are for kids. It is our responsibility to nurture their interest, their love of sports, team play and fair play. Winning is fun, but winning is not the most important part of being a participant in sports.” Sue's enjoyment of working with kids goes beyond the Recreation Dept. She has been with the MC Community School District for 18 years. She likes to fundraiser free time with family and friends. Sue has two children, Bryan and Emily, who both graduated from MC High School and one grandson. She also has many nieces, nephews, grand nieces and nephews (too numerous to count) and four very crazy sisters. When time permits Sue likes to read, sew, watch sports and travel, but her favorite thing in the world is to laugh!!