Cimprich Honored as Inaugural Changing Nature of Work Award Recipient

Ashburn, VA (December 5, 2022)

In partnership with Merrell, NRPA is proud to recognize a park and recreation professional going above and beyond to serve their community

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), the nation’s leading advocate for parks and recreation, in partnership with Merrell®, the world’s leading outdoor footwear brand, is proud to announce the first-ever Changing Nature of Work Award winner. This annual award recognizes an individual or team that has responded to natural disasters with a spirit of teamwork, community and perseverance to clean up, rebuild their park for usable enjoyment, and to support and advance resilience and well-being for their community.

The 2022 Changing Nature of Work Award has been presented to Michael P. Cimprich, an arborist for the City of Marion, Iowa.

In August 2020, the City of Marion, along with many other communities across the Midwest, experienced heavy thunderstorms and hurricane force winds up to 140 mph as part of the devasting “Central Severe Weather-Derecho.” Known as the “costliest thunderstorm event in U.S. history,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the derecho caused widespread power outages and damages to homes, trees, businesses and powerlines. More than 40 percent of public trees were lost and many others on private property also were destroyed.

Once the storm subsided, Cimprich and his team worked to cut a path for emergency personnel and quickly began working on cleaning up the debris. Over the course of a few months, more than 1.2 million cubic yards of tree debris had been cleared, thanks to the work of Cimprich and his team.

Cimprich was crucial in leading the coordination effort between the city, contractors and other members of the community. Since the event, he has replanted more than 1,500 trees and secured more than $110,000 in grant funds to help support the effort. Cimprich  has been a fundamental part of the response, cleanup, replanting and reforestation effort within the City of Marion and demonstrates how essential park and recreation professionals are.

In his nomination, Marion Parks and Recreation Director Seth Staashelm noted, “It has been said, ‘If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,’ and Mike Cimprich is living proof of this. His passion for the outdoors and commitment to leaving Marion in a better place than he found it is unmatched. He embodies Merrell’s purpose to share the power of being outside with everyone.”

This is the first award presented by Merrell in partnership with NRPA and will highlight the essential role of local park and recreation professionals and contribute to NRPA’s workforce development goal of stewarding the next generation of diverse local park and recreation professionals.

“We are so excited to celebrate the excellent work that Mike Cimprich has provided for the community in a time of crisis,” said Kristine Stratton NRPA president and CEO. “We are proud to honor that work with the Changing Nature of Work Award and are grateful to Michael for being a community hero, proving that park and recreation professionals are essential.”

“We are honored to have the opportunity to celebrate Mike Cimprich as a community leader, hero and outstanding professional,” said Elizabeth Czachorski, brand marketing manager at Merrell. “Merrell exists to share the simple power of the outdoors with everyone and awarding Mike with our first Changing Nature of Work Award is a great opportunity for us to recognize the work being done in communities across the country.”

Cimprich will be sponsored by Merrell for one year and receive $2,500 in gear. He also will receive a cash prize of $10,000 to support a project in the City of Marion and has indicated he intends to use the funds to support ongoing replanting efforts.

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About the National Recreation and Park Association

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to building strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation. With more than 60,000 members, NRPA advances this mission by investing in and championing the work of park and recreation professionals and advocates — the catalysts for positive change in service of equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit

About Merrell

Merrell® exists to share the simple power of being outside and is committed to building an inclusive and sustainable environment for future generations to enjoy. As the global leader in outdoor active footwear with the Moab hiking boot and Jungle Moc, Merrell is focused on merging performance, styling, and comfort to empower all people to confidently explore the outdoors. Visit or follow us on social @Merrell. Merrell® is a division of Wolverine World Wide, Inc. (NYSE: WWW), one of the world’s leading marketers and licensors of branded casual, active lifestyle, work, outdoor sport, athletic, children’s and uniform footwear and apparel.