National Awards: A Great Way to Honor the Village

By Atuya O. Cornwell | Posted on March 1, 2016

3.1.16_award3As a child, one of my ultimate fears was standing up at church on the Sunday after school report cards were released as my pastor cheerfully said, “All of our honor roll students please come to the front so that we can recognize your achievement.”  

My fear was wrapped up in a little shyness and, at the time, a lot of misunderstanding about the impact of personal achievement. Then one day around the age of thirteen it hit me: being recognized for my personal achievement is not a form of boasting. Personal achievement is a nod to family, friends, colleagues, mentors and teachers who have deposited life gems into you. Thanks to their impact, your personal achievement has the potential to inspire others.

As the 2015 Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award recipient, I was truly humbled to be selected by NRPA and the Awards Committee for an award named after such an outstanding pioneer in our industry. I was equally humbled to learn that a colleague I met at the Anaheim NRPA Conference thought enough of me as his mentor to nominate me for this award. 

Although the Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award is one that honors an individual; I believe it is similar to my “ah-hah moment” above. It honors the “village.” Since receiving this National Award, I have been able to share my story as a park and recreation professional with a larger audience. I have also had an opportunity to gain more exposure for the service organizations in which I devote a significant amount of volunteer hours to in the Greater Charlotte Metro community.

3.1.16_crawfordawardAfter taking several months to travel the country as a small business owner and also as the boyfriend to an avid National Park Passport Stamps collector, I will be joining one of the most outstanding park and recreation departments in the nation within a few weeks. Receiving the Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award has indeed made an impact on my personal and professional development.  

With a few weeks remaining in the National Award application process, I encourage you and your agency to take the time to nominate those individuals who continue to make a significant impact on your community through service as a park and recreation professional. Not only to honor them as an individual, but to also recognize their “village.”

Recently, one of my favorite sports athletes honored his teammates by listing all of them on his game day shoes. Taking a page out of his book, let me end by honoring those who have contributed to my passion as a park and recreation professional over the years in their own impactful way:

My Mom and Dad (my inspirations). Danielle Durham. Ms. Shirley. Tom-Tom. Coach George. Susan Cooper. Tom Ross. Timia Thompson. Detrick Stanford. Tiffany Johnson. Africa. Christine Brett. Roslyn Johnson. Kayode Lewis. Cynthia Peters. David Miller. Dr. James Worsley. Robert Anderson. Jane Beech. Shane Mize. Azivia Little. James Alsop. Pat Armstrong. Rita Shue. NRPA. Power In One. Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. I Can. We Will. UNC-Greensboro. NRPA’s Program Committee. NRPA’s Young Professional Network. NRPA’s Public Policy Committee.


Honor the village with a national award! Submit your nomination for the 2016 Robert W. Crawford Hall of Fame or apply for one of NRPA's National Awards before it's too late.


National Award applications are due March 20, 2016.


Atuya O. Cornwell, CPRP, 2015 Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award Recipient