2017 NRPA Agency Performance Review

The typical park and recreation agency offers one park for every 2,266 residents served, with 9.6 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents. But park and recreation agencies are as diverse as the communities that they serve, and what works well for one agency may not be best for your agency. Therefore, you need data to best identify the best practices to optimally serve your community.

That’s where the 2017 NRPA Agency Performance Review comes in. This report is the most comprehensive resource of data and insights for park and recreation agencies in the United States, and has 21 figures highlighting critical park and recreation metrics.

Read the Report

  

  

  

Americans' Engagement with Parks Survey

Americans Engagement with Parks SurveyTo harness Americans’ untapped passion for public parks and recreation, NRPA each year conducts a study explore Americans’ usage of parks, the key reasons that drive their use, and the greatest challenges preventing increased usage. This annual study probes the importance of public parks in Americans’ lives, including how parks rate against other service offerings of local governments. The survey of 1,000 American adults looks at frequency and drivers of parks/recreation facilities visits and the barriers that prevent greater enjoyment. In addition, the 2017 study took a special look at parks and recreation’s role in resiliency and their special responsibility to help their communities withstand and recover from natural disasters.

  

Park and Recreation Salary Survey

Park and Recreation Salary SurveyThe NRPA Park and Recreation Salary Survey report provides comprehensive salary data and benefit policy details for five typical park and recreation positions based on a survey of 480 agencies across the US. The full report also includes sample job descriptions and agency organization charts

  

  

  

Local Government Officials’ Perceptions of Parks and Recreation

Local Government Officials’ Perceptions of Parks and RecreationParks and recreation is predominantly a service provided by local governments and therefore is reliant on financial support from local governments’ general tax funds. However, local governments fund and manage a variety of different public services. This report will help park and recreation professionals understand how local government officials view and prioritize these services. Read more about the study here.

  

  

  

Healthy Aging in Parks Survey

Healthy Aging in Parks Survey ResultsPark and recreation agencies are in a unique position to ensure that the needs of underserved older adults are being met. Based on survey responses from 524 park and recreation professionals, this study explores how park and recreation agencies and their staff serve older adults.

  

  

  

Park and Recreation Sustainability Practices

Park and Recreation Sustainability PracticesParks are key community stakeholders when it comes to addressing the effects of climate change. From protecting water resources via green infrastructure practices, to reducing urban heat island effect through city wide forest restoration - parks play a critical role in ensuring that our communities successfully adapt and thrive in light of a rapidly changing planet.

  

  

Homelessness in Parks Survey Results

Historically, park and recreation agencies have had a complicated relationship with the homeless community they serve. On one level, public parks are resources for the entire community, providing valuable services to all people. On another level, the prevalence of homeless individuals using park resources can put great pressure on the finite resources of park and recreation agencies. The circumstances of homelessness vary significantly by city, with each park and recreation agency facing a unique set of challenges and holding a unique perspective.  As a result, mitigating homelessness cannot be the sole responsibility of one agency or one department within a city. In all, nine out of 10 urban park and recreation agency directors report that their city has tactics and strategies in place to alleviate homelessness in the community.

NRPA Out-of-School Time Survey Results

Out-of-School-Time-Survey-Results-Report-ThumbnailOut-of-school time (OST) programs are critical providers of child care — affording parents and caregivers the opportunity to earn a living. These programs provide education about nature and nutrition, tutoring, mentoring and enrichment opportunities that improve the mental, physical and emotional health of youth. More so, OST programs fill a critical need by providing healthy meals to children during out-of school times. There remains, however, many opportunities for greater success by serving more children and expanding program offerings. Based on survey results from 396 park and recreation professionals, this study explores the scope and missions of out-of-school time programs, along with their greatest challenges and successes. 

 

Using Data at Park & Recreation Agencies

Using Data at Park and Rec AgenciesIn recent years, park and recreation professionals have increased their use of data analysis to support decision making. The insights gleaned from data analysis help agencies make informed programming decisions for their facilities, help optimize capital expenditure budgets and support master planning. At the same time, many park and recreation agencies face the daunting challenge of identifying how to best take advantage of the great promise data can bring to their agencies. Based on the feedback of 58 directors from urban park and recreation agencies, this study looks at how park and recreation agencies are embracing data today and to identify the barriers that inhibit greater use of analysis.

 

Americans’ Broad-Based Support for Local Recreation and Park Services

Americans Support for Recreation and Park ServicesAmericans cherish their local public park and recreation services, seeing them as valuable features of their communities, towns and cities. In fact, Americans almost unanimously agree that their communities benefit from their local public parks, even if they themselves are not regular park users. This passion for local public parks has gone unabated during the past 25 years even as our nation and the ways we interact and entertain each other have dramatically evolved. Read the study and dig deeper with interactive graphics.

 

 

The Economic Impact of Local Parks

Economic Impact of Local ParksAmerica’s local and regional public park agencies generated nearly $140 billion in economic activity and supported almost 1 million jobs from their operations and capital spending alone in 2013. When the spending at local and regional parks is combined with that of national and state parks, public parks are responsible for more than $200 billion in annual economic activity.

The study, the first nationwide study of its kind, focuses exclusively on the direct, indirect and induced effects local and regional park agencies’ spending have on economic activity. Read a more thorough, technical discussion of the study here.

 

 

Relevant Research for Practice

Relevant Research for Practice 2017The following reports translate key academic research findings for everyday park and recreation professionals. Included are summaries of more than 70 peer-reviewed research articles published between 2012 and 2017. For each report, you will find a summary of each articles’ key findings, the full reference, contact information of the primary authors and (if available) links to download the full academic articles.

Read more about key academic research findings here.


 

Active Transportation and Parks and Recreation

Active Transportation and Parks and RecreationParks and recreation agencies have historically been closely aligned with the goals of active transportation principles, as well as playing an important role in the development and management of active transportation infrastructure. It is difficult to imagine a truly comprehensive active transportation network that is not touched by a park and recreation agency, and in many cases parks and recreation agencies are the primary providers of active transportation-related services. Through active transportation, parks and recreation agencies provide valuable benefits to communities by providing an engine for economic development, increasing health and wellbeing, supporting conservation and providing benefits to all advocates regardless of socioeconomic status. Download Active Transportation and Parks and Recreation.

 

Safe Routes to Parks: Improving Access to Parks through Walkability

Park Access ReportAccess to parks increases one's level of physical activity, therefore parks are an important destination that should be easily accessible to all advocates. This report explores the obstacles limiting walkability to parks and identify the essential elements of a safe route to a park. Additionally, this report assesses the barriers to walkability, determines the key stakeholders responsible for creating safe routes to parks, identifies strategies on building awareness on the importance of walkability, and recognizes current initiatives on improving safe routes to parks. Download Safe Routes to Parks: Improving Access to Parks through Walkability.


 

 

Older reports can be accessed here:

Research Report Archive

Case Studies

 

Issue Briefs

 

For more information about research papers, contact NRPA Customer Service at 800.626.NRPA (6772)

 

News Stories

11.21.17Top Story

Ore. creates Office of Outdoor Recreation

11.21.17Around the Country

Ill. lake gets artificial plants to help the fish population

11.21.17Around the Country

N.C. looks to turn former mental hospital into a park