Among the high-energy hustle and bustle of the 2017 NRPA Annual Conference in New Orleans last September, you may have missed one celebration that took place in the host city — the exuberant display by the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORD) staff members when they learned their agency had received its accredited status from NRPA’s Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).
Becoming accredited is one of the highest benchmarks of excellence that an agency can attain. It is a year-long process that requires an agency to meet or exceed 37 fundamental and 114 nonfundamental standards. The program continues to grow with 166 accredited agencies and about 30 more that are seeking to renew for another five-year term.
The members of CAPRA deserve high praise for their volunteer service to the field. This independent, 15-member commission determines the accreditation standards to ensure agencies are operating effectively and efficiently. It consists of highly experienced and dedicated volunteers who represent a concentrated wealth of knowledge and experience in the field of parks and recreation. Many have worked for decades in parks and recreation and are willing to give back to the profession by serving on the Commission.
CAPRA also includes nearly 200 “visitors” who conduct the agency on-site review. They are no less dedicated than the members of the commission, but their time commitment is less. At the expense of the agency seeking accreditation, visitors spend two to three days at an agency reviewing its evidence of standards compliance.
CAPRA celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2018, and I encourage more agencies to pursue accreditation. As with other municipal departments that have their own accreditation, CAPRA signals to elected officials and the public that your agency is a department of excellence. Learn more about the accreditation process. If you are interested in potentially volunteering your time and talent as a CAPRA visitor, send us an email.
Barbara Tulipane, CAE is NRPA's President and CEO