American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration

July 1, 2012, Department, by Tom Lovell

AAPRA lakeThe American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) is dedicated to advancing knowledge related to the administration of parks, recreation, and conservation; encouraging scholarly efforts by both practitioners and educators to enhance the practice of park and recreation administration; promoting broader public understanding of the importance of parks, recreation, and conservation to the public good; conducting research, publishing papers, and sponsoring seminars related to the advancement of the field; and providing services either directly or indirectly that advance the profession.

AAPRA was established in 1980 by 50 founding members and is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) educational organization. Membership is made up of practitioners and educators who have served for at least 15 years in high-level administrative capacities in parks and recreation and demonstrated leadership contributing to the advancement of the field. Membership is limited to 125 practicing professionals at any one time, of which no more than 25 percent may be educators. In addition, members can hold emeritus status after they retire.

The Academy spearheads several select projects. The Journal of Park and Recreation Administration is an official publication of the Academy. In partnership with Sagamore Publishing, it is designed to bridge the gap between research and practice for administrators, educators, consultants, and researchers, and it publishes original manuscripts that move theoretical management concepts forward in the field of park and recreation administration. It also provides clear implications of theory and research for problem solving and action in parks and recreation organizations.

The Academy provides professional services including consulting, workshops, lectures, and open discussions to park and recreation agencies. Consultation services are offered free of charge, except for expenses, to provide agencies and institutions with guidance to enhance quality for park, recreation, and conservation services. In addition to professional services, AAPRA manages the Legends of Parks and Recreation Videotape Library, sponsored in partnership with Landscape Structures, Inc., which consists of interviews with distinguished administrators and educators sharing their personal background, professional insights, advice, and philosophical beliefs.

Several prestigious awards and recognitions are managed by the Academy. The National Gold Medal Awards Program is a program of the Academy in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and sponsored by Musco Lighting. This award, presented annually in conjunction with NRPA Congress, honors communities and military bases that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development, and agency recognition. The Honorable Cornelius Amory Pugsley Medals, sponsored in partnership with Davey Tree Company, recognize individuals at all levels who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion and development of services and resources that constitute public parks and conservation practices in the United States. Annually, up to three Pugsley medals are awarded at the annual Academy banquet. Academy members identify and select medal recipients with the National Parks Foundation. Finally, AAPRA, alongside NRPA, oversees the selection of members for the Robert W. Crawford Recreation and Park Hall of Fame. Leaders recognized in the Hall of Fame serve as icons for future leaders in guiding the recreation and park movement into the 21st Century.

The Young Professional Externship Program, managed by the AAPRA, enables outstanding professionals 35 years of age and younger in the profession to interact with and learn from members of the Academy and other NRPA Congress attendees. Up to four externs are selected each year.

National accreditation for political subdivisions, universities, and colleges is a top priority for the Academy.  This national program is carried out by NRPA with the involvement of many Academy members in order to promote and encourage best practices among these entities.

The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration presents its class of new inductees, officers, and board members for 2012:  Thomas M. Farrell, Director of Parks and Recreation for the town of Brunswick, Maine; Dr. Deb Jordan, Professor and Department Chair in the Recreation and Leisure Studies program at East Carolina University; Gregory A. Mack, Director of Ramsey County Parks and Recreation, Minnesota; Steven J. Thompson, Chief Executive Officer for the Wisconsin Park and Recreation Association; Mark A. Young, Chair of NRPA’s Park Resources Network; Bill Zimmerman, Commissioner of Parks and Recreation for the City of New Rochelle, New York; Officers: AAPRA President Lori Daniel, Manager of Recreation Services for the City of Aurora Department of Parks, Recreation, and Public Properties, Colorado; AAPRA President-Elect Tom Lovell, Administrator of Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation, Missouri; AAPRA Past President Tony Cisneros, retired as Director of Parks and Recreation in College Station, Texas; AAPRA Secretary Paul Romero, Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation; AAPRA Treasurer Michal Anne Lord, Executive Director of the Texas Recreation and Park Society; AAPRA Directors Ray Ochromowicz, Executive Director of the Park Ridge Recreation and Park District in Park Ridge, Illinois; John McGovern, Past President of Recreation Accessibility Consultants LLC; Joe Wynns, Director, Department of Parks and Recreation in Indianapolis, Indiana; Sue Black, Director of Milwaukee County Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture, Wisconsin; Steve Neu, Associate Professor and Program Director of Sport and Leisure Management; Director of Lifelong Learning at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota; Mark Eynatten, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Grand Prairie, Texas; AAPRA Executive Director Rich Grodsky, Retired Executive Director of the Elmhurst Park District, Illinois; and AAPRA Executive Secretary/Treasurer Andee Chestnut, Retired Public Information Director for Champaign County Forest Preserve District, Illinois.

For more information about AAPRA or to contact any of the members or officers, please visit