The National Recreation and Park Association’s awards program consists of the National Gold Medal Award (presented by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with NRPA), and the NRPA Awards which include the Innovation Awards, Spotlight Awards, Scholarships and Fellowships, and the Robert W. Crawford Hall of Fame.

NRPA Awards recipients are selected by the NRPA Awards and Scholarship Committee, except for the NRPA Best in Innovation Award where the winner is determined by public vote. Each award has specific eligibility criteria. All applicants must be current NRPA members.

The nomination period for 2024 NRPA Awards, Scholarships and Fellowships will be January 5 - March 29.

Want to learn how to create an engaging application? Check out this video: Taking the Mystery Out of the NRPA Awards Process

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2023 NRPA Award Winners

Spotlight Awards

National Distinguished Professional Award
Janet Bartnik, CPRP, Deputy Director, Prince William County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, Prince William, Virginia

Dirk Richwine Professional Mentoring Award
Christopher M. Nunes, CPRE, Chief Operating Officer, The Woodlands Township, Woodlands, Texas

Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award
Laura Mortier, CPRP, Recreation Supervisor, Canton Leisure Services, Canton, Michigan

Robert M. Artz Advocacy Award
Jeffrey Budnitz, Executive Founding Board Member and Treasurer, Lake Roland Nature Council, Baltimore, Maryland

Innovation Awards

Innovation in Conservation Award
Meadowdale Beach Park & Estuary Restoration Project, Snohomish County Parks & Recreation, Snohomish, Washington

Innovation in Equity Award
SootheSpace, Fox Valley Special Recreation Association, Aurora, Illinois

Innovation in Health Award
Reducing Violence in Columbus - VOICE, Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, Columbus, Ohio

Innovation in Park Design Award
Unity Park, City of Greenville Parks, Recreation & Tourism, Greenville, South Carolina

NRPA Best in Innovation Award
Unity Park, City of Greenville Parks, Recreation & Tourism, Greenville, South Carolina

Scholarships and Fellowships

Young Professional Fellowship
Haley Colucci, CPRP, Oak Brook Park District (Illinois)
Diana Correa, CPRP, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation (North Carolina)
Thamara Velasco, City of Douglasville Parks and Recreation (Georgia)
Taylor Witter, CPRP, CPO, Lisle Park District (Illinois)

Diversity Scholarship
Jamiah Flagg, City of Douglasville Parks and Recreation (Georgia)

Student Scholarship
Jason Lewis Cowley, Utah Tech University
Lindsey Batson, University of Missouri

Video Recording of the 2023 Best of the Best Ceremony

 

2022 NRPA Award Winners

Spotlight Awards

National Distinguished Professional Award
Dr. Michal Anne Lord, Executive Director (retired), Texas Recreation and Park Society

Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award
Kristen Herndon,  Assistant Director, Person County Recreation, Arts and Parks, Roxboro, North Carolina

Robert M. Artz Advocacy Award
Ted Schoenborn, Bend Metro Park and Recreation District Board of Directors, Bend Park and Recreation District, Bend, Oregon

RWJF-NRPA Award for Health Equity
Velma Bailey, Founder/CEO, Saint Louis Torchbearers 2, St. Louis, Missouri

Innovation Awards

Innovation in Conservation Award
Palos Preserves Urban Night Sky Place, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Cook County, Illinois

Innovation in Health Award
Tallahassee Senior Center UPSLIDE, Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Affairs Department, Tallahassee, Florida

Innovation in Park Design Award
Maker Playground, Fishers Parks & Recreation Department, Fishers, Indiana

Innovation in Social Equity Award
Hillsborough County Wheelchair Football, Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation, Tampa, Florida

NRPA Best in Innovation Award 
Palos Preserves Urban Night Sky Place, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Cook County, Illinois

Scholarships and Fellowships

Young Professional Fellowship
Jeff Achee, City of Harker Heights Parks & Recreation (Texas)
Elena Christopher, City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department (Texas)
Kate Connell, City of Iowa City Parks & Recreation Department (Iowa)
Kate DeAngelis, Town of Lexington Recreation & Community Programs (Massachusetts)

Diversity Scholarship
Jenny Doan, City of Columbus Recreation and Parks (Ohio)
Olivia Salazar de Breaux, Olympia Parks Arts & Recreation Department (Washington)

Student Scholarship
Gabrielle Andux, Appalachian State University
Bryan Wyks, Radford University

Video Recording of the 2022 Best of the Best Ceremony

 

2021 NRPA Award Winners

Spotlight Awards

National Distinguished Professional Award
Randy Bina, executive director, Bismarck Parks and Recreation District, Bismarck, North Dakota

Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award
Chris Bass, assistant director, City of Douglasville, Douglasville, Georgia

Robert M. Artz Advocacy Award
Bruce Rinker, Cleveland Metroparks board of park commissioners, Cleveland Metroparks, Cleveland, Ohio

RWJF-NRPA Award for Health Equity
Emilie Harmeyer, ShreveCorps program director, Shreveport Green, Shreveport, Louisiana

Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Award for Excellence in Recreation and Park Research
Alan Ewert, professor emeritus, Indiana University

Innovation Awards

Innovation in Health Award
Healthy U: A Series of Conversations, Port St. Lucie Parks and Recreation, Port St. Lucie, Florida

Innovation in Conservation Award
Ocala Wetland Recharge Park, City of Ocala, Ocala, Florida

Innovation in Social Equity Award
Re-Connecting Cleveland: Pathways to Opportunity TIGER Grant Project, Cleveland Metroparks, Cleveland, Ohio

Innovation in Park Design Award
Westwood Hills Nature Center Interpretive Center Building Project, City of St. Louis Park, Operations and Recreation, St. Louis Park, Minnesota

NRPA Best in Innovation Award 
Ocala Wetland Recharge Park, City of Ocala, Ocala, Florida

Scholarships and Fellowships

Young Professional Fellowship
Kristen Herndon, Greensboro Parks and Recreation
Cameron Levis, Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department

Diversity Scholarship
Chamreece Diggs, Greensboro Parks and Recreation
Joseph Godette, Greensboro Parks and Recreation

Student Scholarship
Matt Colwell, University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Celeste Morales, California State University - East Bay

Video Recording of the 2021 Best of the Best Ceremony

 

2020 NRPA Award Winners

Spotlight Awards

National Distinguished Professional Award
James Worsley, director, Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation; Chester Virginia

Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award
Anthony Iracki, recreation supervisor, Whitefish Bay; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Robert M. Artz Advocacy Award
Greg Cox, chairman, County of San Diego Board of Supervisors; San Diego, California

RWJF-NRPA Award for Health Equity
Carol Zernial, senior vice president social responsibility and foundation executive director, WellMed Medical Management Inc.; San Antonio, Texas
Daryl Quarles, manager, Senior Programs, Dallas Park and Recreation Department; Dallas, Texas

Innovation Awards

Innovation in Conservation Award
The Woodlands Township: Three Pillars of Sustainability; Woodlands, Texas

Innovation in Health Award
City of Golden Valley, HomeRECed: A Navigational Guide To Everyday Recreation; City of Golden Valley, Minnesota

Innovation in Park Design Award
City of Spokane Parks and Recreation, U.S. Pavilion and Howard St. Promenade, Riverfront Spokane; Spokane, Washington

Innovation in Social Equity Award
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Restoring Pittsburgh Parks: The Parks Plan; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

NRPA Best in Innovation Award
City of Spokane Parks and Recreation, U.S. Pavilion and Howard St. Promenade, Riverfront Spokane; Spokane, Washington

Scholarships and Fellowships

Young Professional Fellowship
Meredith Lawrence, City of Mendota Heights
Jenna Stevenson, City of Baytown Parks & Recreation

Diversity Scholarship
Jairo Rios-Campos, PlayEast!

Student Scholarship
Abigail Sandy, Texas A&M University

Video Recording of the 2020 Best of the Best Ceremony

 

2019 NRPA Award Winners

Spotlight Awards

National Distinguished Professional Award 
Dirk Richwine, CPRE; Parker, Colorado

Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award
Gerry Logan, executive director, Starkville Parks and Recreation; Starkville, Mississippi

Robert M. Artz Advocacy Award 
Chris Riley, park board commissioner, Decatur Park District; Decatur, Illinois

RWJF-NRPA Award for Health Equity 
Tina Fleming, community services director, and Lindsay Jorstad, outreach manager, Gwinnett County Government; Lawrenceville, Georgia

Innovation Awards

Innovation in Conservation Award 
Metroparks Toledo for Howard Marsh Metropark; Toledo, Ohio

Innovation in Health Award
City of Port St. Lucie Parks and Recreation; Port St. Lucie, Florida

Innovation in Park Design Award 
Three Rivers Park District; Plymouth, Minnesota

Innovation in Social Equity Award
City of Santa Clarita; Santa Clarita, California

NRPA Best in Innovation Award 
City of Port St. Lucie Parks and Recreation; Port St. Lucie, Florida

Scholarships and Fellowships

Young Professional Fellowship
Jeremy Bajdaun, Town of Miami Lakes (Florida)
Luke Bolinger, Town of Erie (Colorado)
Sarah Hansen, City of Golden Valley (Minnesota)
Elissa Malone, City of Frisco (Texas)

Diversity Scholarship
Attiyya Atkins, Broward Couty (Florida)
LaCleveia Morley, City of Miami (Florida)

Student Scholarship
Kandice Newton, University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Kristen Sikorsky, Kansas State University

Video Recording of the 2019 Best of the Best Ceremony

  

2018 NRPA Award Winners

Spotlight Awards

National Distinguished Professional Award 
Michael Klitzing; Carmel, Indiana

Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award
Jeff Ozimek; Bainbridge Island, Washington

Robert M. Artz Advocacy Award 
Nixon Adams; St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana

RWJF-NRPA Award for Health Equity 
Becky Tuttle; Wichita, Kansas

Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Award for Excellence in Recreation and Park Research Award 
Andrew Mowen; University Park, Pennsylvania

Innovation Awards

Innovation in Conservation Award 
Forest Preserves of Cook County; River Forest, Illinois

Innovation in Health Award
Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation; Alhambra, California

Innovation in Park Design Award 
Town of Glastonbury; Glastonbury, Connecticut

Innovation in Social Equity Award
Chicago Park District; Chicago, Illinois

NRPA Best in Innovation Award 
Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation; Alhambra, California

Scholarships and Fellowships

Young Professional Fellowship
Takeyra M. Collins, Virginia Wesleyan University
Jill Ellison, Seattle Parks and Recreation
Katy Keller, Indian Trail Parks and Recreation
Hillary Roemersberger, Apex Park and Recreation District

Diversity Scholarship
Ashley Jones, Norfolk Recreation, Parks and Open Space
Nelson Musselman, City of Lewisville

Student Scholarship
Heidi Weiler, University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Jordan Sylvester, Texas Southern University

2023 Best of the Best Awards Ceremony Video

You can turn on sound via the video player controls.

The NRPA Awards are presented at the Best of the Best ceremony during the NRPA Annual Conference.

For additional information contact awards@nrpa.org

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