Skip to content
View Additional Profiles
MSU Profiles

Greenslit's simple recipe: Opportunity equals preparation + confidence

In his inaugural address in 1960, President John F. Kennedy challenged Americans to think of ways they could serve. His enthusiasm appealed to many young idealists.

In Minot in 1960, John Greenslit, young, idealistic and enthusiastic, began his career journey at Minot State College, when he substituted for a faculty member on sabbatical. During 1960-61, he was head tennis coach, assistant football coach and Minot Model High wrestling coach. He also started an intramural program and operated as the sports information office.

The Morton, Minn., native discovered skills he learned in his physical education classes - timelines, goal setting and teamwork - carried over into every facet of life.

"The ability to communicate is the basis for all success. Without it, your chances of failing greatly increase," Greenslit said. "Also, it's 'we' not 'me.'"

Greenslit taught middle school science and coached track and cross country and wrestling in St. James, Minn., from 1961 to 1963. While at St. James, he took education classes at Mankato State University and was named a National Science Foundation Scholar in geology and astronomy, studying at Carleton College.

The alumnus returned to his alma mater during 1964-66 as a health and physical education teacher, intramural director and assistant football coach. He also provided sports information to media and assisted with alumni relations.

In 1966, Greenslit received an appointment by Gov. William L. Guy to lead the relatively new North Dakota Outdoor Recreation Agency. This cabinet-level agency was the liaison to the U.S. Department of Interior and Agriculture Departments, U.S. Corps of Engineers and State agencies and local government unit.

"Gov. Guy was the ideal mentor. He was especially progressive and sensitive," Greenslit continued. "I admired the man, and he gave me many opportunities."

In 1972, Greenslit left the Guy administration to become the first executive director of the Michigan Recreation and Park Association in Lansing, where he served nearly 23 years. He completed a master's degree in administration at Central Michigan University.

After enjoying several career avenues, Greenslit was recruited in 2010 to direct the Eaton County Parks Department, located in Grand Ledge, Mich. He manages nine county parks and over 306 acres at a combination of sites, trails and recreation facilities.

"Often, I have been recruited for positions. Possessing confidence, embracing diversity and doing preparation will meet opportunity, when it comes up," said Greenslit. "A university education heavy in the liberal arts will provide a broad-based background, which will match upcoming possibilities."

Greenslit returned again to his alma mater Jan. 22 as part of the Distinguished Alumni Series.

"The campus has changed remarkably, but the value of personal relationships has remained. The number of advanced degrees is impressive, and the facilities are striking. Minot State is an outstanding institution," Greenslit reflected.