Ready, Set, Go Gold!

By Brenda Beales | Posted on January 26, 2016

1.26.16_blog_gold_medalAwards season is here and it’s time to get busy on that Gold Medal Award application! Not only is the application in an easy, online format, it’s also an excellent way to uncover all of the great things your agency has accomplished. So whether or not you become a finalist (and hopefully a grand plaque winner!), you will walk away with more knowledge about your agency that can be used to bolster the work you do within your community. 


In the January issue of Parks & Recreation magazine, Gold Medal Head Judge Mike Abbaté and Gold Medal Committee Member Mary Beth Thaman breakdown benefits, myths and tips for the Gold Medal awards. In addition to their key dates and Mike’s top ten tips for submitting an application, as NRPA’s Awards Manager, I have a few more of my own:


  1. Answer the questions as if they are interconnected. Judges are looking for consistency throughout the application – not stand alone answers to each question. For example, if your demographics indicate a high number of seniors, show examples of how your agency is addressing senior issues. Another example is connecting your strategic plan to action items.

  2. Complete the application from an organization-centric perspective. Judges want to know how your agency serves the public and how you connect with the public. 

  3. Don’t forget that the judges are not a part of your community. Make sure you tell your unique story.

  4. Each year is unique and judged separately. It is a different set of applicants and the makeup of the judging panel is different. Answer the questions as if this was the first time you have ever applied, remembering to use current examples.

A bonus tip: If you do get selected as a finalist this year, there is a NEW video requirement. Finalists will be asked to prepare a short video that highlights their agency. The video will be no longer than five minutes in length and will need to be posted on the first landing page of participating agencies’ websites by June 5. This short video should support the information provided in the application and should help the judges understand how the agency is unique and outstanding. Any video approach may be used—the intent is not to require extensive or expensive productions. The video will not only help you become a grand plaque winner, it will also serve as a communications tool you can use with your community! 


To quote Mike’s number one tip, “take the leap!” You just might be the next Gold Medal Award recipient. Your chances are much better than winning the lottery!



Brenda Beales is NRPA's Awards Manager.