Gold Medal Awards

Gold MedalThe Gold Medal Award honors communities throughout the United States that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management and innovative approaches to delivering superb park and recreation services with fiscally sound business practices. 

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. At the beginning of each calendar year, agencies are invited to submit applications for consideration, with a deadline of mid-March. Finalists are announced at the end of April, and the Grand Award recipients are announced at the NRPA Annual Conference in the fall.

Applications for 2016 are closed.  Information for the 2017 Gold Medal Awards will be available in January.

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

Gold Medal Live Chat

A Gold Medal Live Chat was held February 3rd. Presenters answered questions from participants about the application, the process, and the program. Check out the Live Chat Transcript.

Parks & Recreation Magazine Articles

Golden Myths
By Mike Abbaté, Mary Beth Thaman
February 2016 Issue
Summary: Gold Medal Head Judge, Mike Abbaté and Gold Medal Committee Chair-Elect, Marybeth Thaman dispel several of the myths that have grown up around the Gold Medal Award.

The National Gold Medal Award Program for Excellence
By Mike Abbaté, Mary Beth Thaman
January 2016 Issue
Summary: What are the four main benefits for embarking on a Gold Medal Award journey?

Gold Medal Award Resources

2016 Gold Medal Award Live Chat Transcript

Before You Get Started.

Judging Criteria for Responses.

Success Stories: Innovative Program Ideas.

2015 Gold Medal Grand Award Recipients

Class I   The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Riverdale, MD

Class II   Plano Parks & Recreation, Plano, TX

Class III   City of St. George Leisure Services Department, St. George, UT

Class IV   Park District of Oak Park, Oak Park, IL

Class V   Oak Brook Park District, Oak Brook, IL

Armed Forces Recreation   Marine Corps Community Services, Marine Corps Installations - West, Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendelton, CA

State Parks   Delaware State Parks    

For additional information please contact


The Gold Medal Awards are presented by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association, and proudly sponsored by Musco Lighting.

Gold Medal Logos

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