Before You Go - October 2015
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Gold Medal Honors
Recipients Recognized for Park & Rec Management Excellence

By Deborah L. Vence

The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), together with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), recently announced the recipients of the 2015 National Gold Medal Grand Plaque Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management.

The recipients were revealed on Sept. 15 in Las Vegas at the NRPA's Annual Conference. The sponsor of the Gold Medal Awards program, one of the highest professional awards available to parks and recreation agencies throughout the country, was Musco Lighting LLC, an Oskaloosa, Iowa-based company that has specialized in lighting systems for sports and large areas for more than 30 years.

The 2015 Gold Medal Grand Plaque recipients are:

  • Class I (population 400,001 and more): The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Md.
  • Class II (population 150,001 to 400,000): Plano Parks and Recreation, Texas
  • Class III (population 75,001 to 150,000): City of St. George Leisure Services Department, Utah
  • Class IV (population 30,001 to 75,000): Park District of Oak Park, Ill.
  • Class V (population less than 30,000): Oak Brook Park District, Ill.
  • Armed Forces Recreation Award: Marine Corps Community Services, Marine Corps Installations West - Marine Corps Base Camp, Pendleton, Calif.
  • State Park System Award: Delaware State Parks

This isn't the first time the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) has received this prestigious award. The Commission has a long history of Gold Medal successes, winning the prize in 1973, 1977, 1984 and 2003. The Commission won its fifth Gold Medal in 1983 for leadership in special recreation and outstanding community achievement in serving people with disabilities. This year's win secured the agency's sixth Gold Medal. No other agency in the country has ever won six, according to a press release from the Commission.

"The Commission is extremely honored and privileged to receive this unprecedented, sixth National Gold Medal on behalf of the 1.8 million residents we serve in Prince George's and Montgomery counties, and on behalf of our talented and creative staff members and unselfish volunteers," M-NCPPC Chairman Elizabeth M. Hewlett said in a press release. "In partnership with our actively engaged citizens, M-NCPPC has worked diligently throughout our 85-plus year history to successfully deliver outstanding, affordable parks and recreation opportunities and experiences for all."

"This award is a product of the hard work and dedication of our staff," M-NCPPC Vice Chair Casey Anderson said. "I'm thrilled that they are getting the recognition they deserve. They know that we need to innovate and adapt to meet the challenge of being the best, and I am proud to work with them."

Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities throughout 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 recognition. Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of citizens, staff and elected officials.

To boot, the Gold Medal Award Program includes seven classes: five classes based upon population, one class for armed forces recreation and one class for state park systems in odd-numbered years.

A panel of five parks and recreation professionals reviews and judges all application materials. And, the judges are chosen for their considerable experience and knowledge in parks and recreation on both local and national levels.

For more information on the Gold Medal Awards, go to or

The AAPRA, a nonprofit organization in Mahomet, Ill., was founded to advance knowledge related to the administration of recreation and parks; to encourage scholarly efforts by both practitioners and educators that would enhance the practice of park and recreation administration; to promote broader public understanding of the importance of parks and recreation to the public good; and, to conduct research, publish scholarly papers and sponsor seminars related to the advancement of park and recreation administration. For more information, go to

The NRPA, a national not-for-profit organization based in Ashburn, Va., is dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of 50,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, the NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, go to