Spotlight Awards are presented to individuals to honor their efforts — both professional and personal — in the field of parks and recreation. Award winners include park and recreation professionals, volunteers, engaged community members, and park advocates.
The nomination period for the 2023 NRPA Spotlight Awards is January 6 - March 24.
National Distinguished Professional Award
The National Distinguished Professional Award is presented to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field through their leadership, research, advocacy, community outreach, and program development.
Who should be nominated: A park and recreation professional that excels in their career with at least 15 years of experience in the field. If you know a proven park and rec leader who works to advance the profession, you should nominate them!
2023 Winner: Janet Bartnik, CPRP, Deputy Director, Prince William County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, Prince William, Virginia
Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award
The Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award is presented to an individual who has shown qualities and skills needed to attain positions of leadership through their contributions to advancing the field, their creativity in creating or managing programs, and their participation in professional organizations, such as NRPA.
Who should be nominated: Park and Recreation professionals excelling at what they do and are under 35 years of age with a few years of experience under their belts. Everyone likes to be recognized — take the time to show your appreciation for an outstanding young professional.
2023 Winner: Laura Mortier, CPRP, Recreation Supervisor, Canton Leisure Services, Canton, Michigan
Dirk Richwine Professional Mentoring Award
New for 2023, the Dirk Richwine Professional Mentoring Award is presented to an individual who has made outstanding contributions through mentoring of individuals and organizations to strengthen the field by helping other professionals grow, develop, and flourish, and by better preparing the next generation of parks and recreation leaders. Click here to learn more about the life and legacy of Dirk Richwine.
Who should be nominated: Park and recreation professionals who have made outstanding contributions through mentoring individuals and organizations to strengthen the field.
2023 Winner: Christopher M. Nunes, CPRE, Chief Operating Officer, The Woodlands Township, Woodlands, Texas
Robert M. Artz Advocate Award
The Robert M. Artz Award recognizes an advocate, an elected or appointed official, or volunteer who has demonstrated outstanding efforts to forward public parks and recreation through education and activating the public in their community, state or at the national level.
Who should be nominated: Volunteers, advocates, and elected members of your community that have done amazing things for parks and recreation need to be recognized. You should nominate them!
2023 Winner: Jeffrey Budnitz, Executive Founding Board Member and Treasurer, Lake Roland Nature Council, Baltimore, Maryland
Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Award for Excellence in Recreation and Park Research
Awarded on a 3-year cycle. The application will be accepted in 2024.
The Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Award for Excellence in Recreation and Park Research is presented to an individual whose contributions to parks and recreation through research have significantly advanced the cause of the parks and recreation movement and whose dedication to the field parallels the same dedication and zeal toward parks, recreation and conservation that was exhibited by the presidents after whom the award is named.
Who should be nominated: A professional, researcher, student or professor who has contributed significantly to a research paper or project that has advanced the field.
2021 Winner: Alan Ewert, Professor Emeritus, Indiana University
The Spotlight Awards are presented at the annual Best of the Best ceremony during the NRPA Annual Conference.
View previous award winners.
NRPA is now offering Digital Badges for Spotlight Award winners. Digital Badges provide professionals and agencies a way to be recognized for their achievements while offering others information on these accomplishments. To access the digital badges for Spotlight Awards and information on how to use them, please log into your NRPA profile.
For additional information contact firstname.lastname@example.org