In Their Words - Why Becoming CPRE Matters


by NRPA | Posted on March 22, 2013

People often ask us why they should invest in becoming a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP). We tell them the truth—it shows their commitment to the field, tests their knowledge of parks and recreation, and helps them stand out among candidates in a crowded job market. Once park and rec professionals get certified, some wonder why they should take the next step and become a Certified Park and Recreation Executive (CPRE). We could spew out all the reasons, but we thought it would be best if you heard it from the source.


As we approach the milestone of our 100th CPRE, we reached out to our current CPREs so they could share in their own words what being a CPRE means to them and how it has advanced their careers and the profession as a whole.  Here’s what they had to say: 


Park and Rec professionals have such a unique skill set, it is important to help us test our knowledge base and identify areas to work on.  Certification is a way to show the general public that key staff in the organization are striving for knowledge and have the ability to help the organization succeed and best utilize public dollars.

Joseph Roszak, MS CPRE, Chief Operating Officer, Cleveland Metroparks, OH 


I had been a CPRP (CLP) for almost 20 years, meaning I had to continue my development at conferences and through involvement in professional associations.  Upon reviewing the necessary qualifications and job responsibilities for the CPRE certification, I admit, I was a curious whether all of the CEUs I had obtained through the years had adequately prepared me and whether I could pass the CPRE exam so long after being out of college.  Fortunately, I was able to pass the exam without difficulty, testament to the value of the ongoing training, education, and involvement over the years.

Jerry Løkken, CPRE, Manager of Recreation Services, Groton Parks and Recreation, CT 


The CPRE certification is important to me as a professional for many reasons.  First and foremost, it shows my community, my coworkers, and fellow parks and recreation professionals that I value and invest in our field.  A mentor of mine encouraged me to attain the CPRP Certification many years ago and it helped me establish credibility for parks and recreation in my locality; especially in difficult times when I’ve had to justify why we are an essential service.  When the CPRE was announced, I challenged myself to test for it at the very first opportunity; at Congress in Atlanta.  I might have missed on some networking time the night before when socials were occurring, but I felt it was important to demonstrate leadership by supporting our industry’s newest Certification and I am proud that I did.  I’ve already encouraged those within my sphere of influence to study for and reach for the CPRE.   My advice is simple, if you truly want our fantastic profession to survive, we must educate our fellow citizens on the value of parks and recreation services and showing one’s dedication through professional certification is one way to do so.  Be a leader, start the process to become a CPRE today.  

Michael J. Kalvort, CPRE, Director, Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation, VA


I chose to seek CPRE certification because I feel certification is important to professionals in the field of parks and recreation.  Just as accreditation tells the outside world your agency meets an accepted level of standards that it is held accountable for maintaining, certification tells people that as a professional you meet an accepted level of standards that you are held accountable for maintaining and that you seek to stay current within the field in order to provide the best service possible to those around you.  I hope to see agencies continue to list certification as a requirement to move up into executive level positions with the hope that this requirement will ensure a common level of knowledge that will help leaders in the field be recognized as the professionals they are.

Shannon Keleher, CPRE, Recreation Manager, City of Gainesville, FL


My inspiration to become a CPRE stems out of my personal practice of lifelong learning and my professional belief that we owe it to our communities and coworkers to be the most qualified and knowledgeable in our field. Having two undergraduate degrees and a Master’s in Public Administration, my education has prepared me well for an executive position in the Park and Recreation field – however the core competencies and standards learned through preparation for the CPRP and CPRE examinations (up until the CPRE roll out I was not certified as a CPRP and was inspired to do both at the same time) have proved invaluable and, in a way, have taught me the basic ingredients and  ideas taught in Park and Recreation Management undergraduate and graduate degrees. The most important component of having being a CPRE is linked to the continuing education units required to sustain this certification – I do not see the requirement for CEU’s as a chore – I view the opportunity of obtaining CEU’s as another great way to learn new ideas and to stay as current as I can be in my chosen profession. 

Kevin M. Kirwin, CPRE, Assistant Director for Operations, Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department - PROS, Miami, FL


I have been certified since you could only take the test once per year in a lecture hall at a local university!   I have always seen the value in professional certification and have been proud to put it on my business cards and signature. I have enjoyed explaining what it is to those who asked, seeing it as an opportunity to talk about the profession of parks and recreation.  Professional certification lends credibility to the individual and says something about the Agency that supports it. 

When the CPRE certification was developed, it was a chance to test myself and take my own expertise to the next level.  The CPRE certification is proof that I have achieved an executive level within the profession.  Further, it is a statement to my peers, policy makers, and the citizens I serve that I have a serious commitment to the highest standards of professionalism.  I applaud the efforts NRPA has made to make this level of professional certification available to those experienced leaders in our profession. 

Judy Weiss, CPRE, Parks and Recreation Director, Coconino County, AZ


These viewpoints are just a sampling of the nearly 100 currently certified as a CPRE. They see the value in showing their peers that park and recreation professionals seek the highest standards and hold themselves accountable to their public by maintaining their certification and pushing themselves to be the best in the field.

If you are ready to join them in demonstrating your commitment to the field and expertise, find out more about the certification process and application.  And as we approach our milestone we are rewarding the 100th person to complete the CPRE Examination with 3.0 CEUs of free NRPA Online learning opportunities! 



If you have any questions about becoming certified as a CPRP or CPRE, please email our certification team, 

Special thanks to the CPREs who submitted their testimonials: 


Dirk Richwine, CPRE (Henderson, NV Parks and Recreation)

Joseph Roszak, CPRE (Cleveland Metroparks, OH)

Jerry Lokken, CPRE (Groton Parks and Recreation, CT)

Michael Kalvort, CPRE (Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation, VA)

Richard Rose, Jr., CPRE (Orange County, NY Parks)

Teresa Penbrooke, CPRE (GreenPlay, LLC, CO)

David Griffin, CPRE (Rocky Mount Parks and Recreation, NC)

Tim Herd, CPRE (Stroud Region Open Space and Recreation Commission, PA)

Jim Pryor, CPRE (Brunswick County Parks & Recreation, NC)

Preston Pooser, CPRE (Woodstock Parks & Recreation, GA)

Shannon Keleher, CPRE (City of Gainesville, FL)

Kevin Kirwin, CPRE (Miami-Dade County Park and Recreation, FL)

Judy Weiss, CPRE (Coconino County, AZ)

Nancy McShea, CPRE (Wayland Park and Recreation Dept., MA)

The CRPE is nice and has some strong testimonials from people who have attained it. This is fine but is it a valid measure of broad based proficiency or just a nice certificate based on ability to pass a test. The CPRE appears to be a senior executive leadership focused credential that may lack credibility. It is, as I understand it, based only on one book, has little to no competency validation, and requires the individual to take and pass a test based on the book. If that is true, it is unlikely to have a validity or measure credential worthiness in a manner as found in the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA) standard including: 1. Delivers an assessment based on industry knowledge (professional role delineation study, job analysis, competency research based on valid, reliable methods), independent from training courses or course providers. 2. Grants a time-limited credential to anyone who meet the assessment standards.I wonder if the CPRE meets this standard, where did the CPRE core competencies come from, or just uses a text as its guide? And, if it only meets the text standard, why is NRPA endorsing and using this certification? by Steve Wolter on 03/13/2014

Steve, thank you for voicing your concerns with the CPRE Certification program. The program has been in existence for over two years, and I can tell you the program was created following the extensive processes required for certification. After all, a professional certification program is only as good as the competencies upon which it is based. In 2010, Professional Testing Inc. (third-party vendor to NRPA) completed a Job Analysis Survey Validation report which requested feedback from stakeholders nationwide. The National Certification Board (NCB) was extremely thorough in obtaining input from all related groups. The NCB worked with the CPRP Certification Committee, CPRP Examination Committee, as well as the Certification Development Committee to create the core competencies to be used for both the CPRP and CPRE examinations. These test questions are constantly revised to stay current with the field. The competencies are evaluated every five years to ensure the certification program remains relevant to the profession.In order to maintain the highest standards and to perform best practice, the National Certification Board, in partnership with NRPA, has been working to complete the accreditation process as a body that certifies professionals that meet the core competencies. This work will serve to increase the credibility of the process by which professionals become certified. Please note that the test is not based on any one book or reference. There are eleven different references used in the preparation of the CPRE examination. With the more established CPRP, study materials have been developed and are available to professionals as an option to help them succeed with the CPRP test. Soon, similar materials will be available for CPRE aspirants. Until then, the Management book has been suggested as a comprehensive tool to assist. The NCB is comprised of seasoned parks and recreation professionals, a military representative, an educator and a public representative, and is supported by professional staff at NRPA. The certifications offered have been vetted by professionals not only in the parks and recreation profession, but by professionals that understand the process of providing a valid, credible professional certification program. This includes professionals from two different internationally recognized professional testing companies (Pearson VUE and Professional Testing Inc.). The comments from those that have attained the CPRE certification are professionals who may, or may not, have the information of what went on "behind the scenes" concerning the development of this executive level certification, but understand that it was established with thorough, professional, and credible methodologies. The CPRE certification represents a meaningful message that those certified have achieved the highest level of professionalism in order to serve their communities. by Judy Weiss, CPRE, Past Chair NCB on 03/18/2014


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