NRPA Certification: A Way Forward

By Nancy Desmond, CPRP | Posted on January 19, 2018

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By 2009, after working more than 13 years in interpretation and education I had reached a point in my career where I was feeling boxed-in by one specialty. Even though I was working for a park and recreation agency, my professional and educational background was in museums and my experience limited to the work within my department. At the time, I didn’t know much about the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA), but I saw that they represented many aspects of a parks and recreation career. NRPA became my portal to exploring my further career options.

Becoming a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional (CPRP) seemed to be an effective way to educate myself about the broad operations of parks agencies. The overview I received through the study guide began to inform my thinking and helped me develop a basic understanding of how other departments functioned and the challenges they faced. With my knowledge previously limited to interpretation, this turned out to be very helpful in collaborative work efforts with multiple departments and other agencies.

I respected the fact that the exam was challenging, and that CPRP’s are required to keep learning, earning Continuing Education Units (CEUs) every year. The CEU requirement pushes me to constantly find new and interesting learning and service opportunities. Perhaps most importantly, becoming certified led to a deeper long-term interest in NRPA.

My subsequent years of engagement with NRPA included conference attendance, becoming a CAPRA visitor and recently a 2018 NRPA National Awards judge. I also led Cleveland Metroparks writing team on two Gold Medal applications. Through all this, I gained a nationwide professional network of like-minded professionals.  NRPA and my CPRP certification keep me informed about the latest trends and make me a resource within my agency on national best practices.

The CPRP behind your name tells colleagues you are serious about your career and committed to the field of parks and recreation. The certification process literally helped change my career path for the better. Try it and you never know where it will take you.


Nancy Desmond, CPRP is the Special Projects Administrator for Cleveland Metroparks.