For a period of more than 20 years, the National Park, Recreation and Open Space Standards served as a guide to countless agencies and park advocates as they developed their budgets to serve their communities. Then, in 1995, NRPA made the decision to stop updating and distributing this resource. Why would we do such a thing when these standards served an important function for park professionals? Because providing standards to a changing membership serving diverse communities was no longer valid.
Even though NRPA hasn’t published the Standards in almost 20 years, we still get frequent requests for the old versions and we see the “NRPA Standards” cited in planning documents to this day. It’s clear that this is something the field wants, so we’re bringing them back — in a vastly improved form.
Using the data collected in PRORAGIS™, we will now offer members “target ranges” to show how agencies across the country are serving their communities. As always, you can delve deeper into PRORAGIS to compare yourself at a detailed level to other agencies, but these target ranges will provide you with a summary of how you compare to all the agencies in PRORAGIS in a single graph. These target ranges don’t come from research projects or surveys — they come from your peers and agencies across the country, and they reflect parks and recreation in practice, not in theory.
Those of you who have completed PRORAGIS surveys in the past will see an Agency Performance Report in your mail this month. This report will show you what I’ve described above along with a brief explanation of each target range we’ve analyzed. If your agency isn’t using PRORAGIS, you can still learn how you compare by completing your survey. Every agency that has already completed a PRORAGIS survey or plans to in the future will be able to see where they fall for each target range every time they log in to the system.
It’s an old favorite with a new twist, revived by popular demand, and it helps us achieve our mission of giving members the best tools to serve their citizens.
Barbara Tulipane, CAE, is NRPA's President and CEO.