Grand Plaque Recipients Announced in the 2023 National Gold Medal Awards in Parks and Recreation

The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), is pleased to announce the 2023 Grand Plaque recipients in the National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. Musco Lighting, LLC is proud to continue as the award sponsor for more than 20 years.

Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the United States that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency communications. Nominations are separated into six classes, with five classes based on population and one class for armed forces.

The following agencies received the Grand Plaque award October 11, in Dallas, Texas, at the 2023 NRPA Annual Conference:

  • Class I (population 400,001 & over): Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation, Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Class II (population 150-001 – 400,000): City of Plano Parks and Recreation Department, Plano, Texas
  • Class III (population 75,001 – 150,000): Champaign Park District, Champaign, Illinois
  • Class IV (population 30,001 – 75,000): Hoffman Estates Park District, Hoffman Estates, Illinois
  • Class V (population under 30,000): Cullman Parks, Recreation, and Sports Tourism, Cullman, Alabama
  • Armed Forces Recreation: Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Kanagawa, Japan
  • State Parks: Texas State Parks, Austin, Texas

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff members and elected officials. Each of these recipients received the Finalist Plaque in their category on Monday, October 9th. For the Grand Plaque round of judging, each Finalist submitted a five-minute video that supports their application and the judges reviewed progress on the agency’s strategic plan.

A panel of five park and recreation professionals judged all application materials. Judges are chosen for their considerable experience and knowledge in parks and recreation on both the local and national levels.

For more information on the National Gold Medal Award Program, visit