NRPA’s Evaluation Resource Hub

March 28, 2024, Department, by Austin Barrett

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NRPA produces and shares a wide variety of resources to assist park and recreation professionals in their planning, programming, operations and advocacy. From research reports to best practices to key research-informed statements on why parks and recreation is essential, these resources are designed to help your agency — and the broader profession — move forward.

NRPA’s Evaluation Resource Hub is the place for park and recreation professionals to learn how to measure the impact of their services. Through evaluation, agencies can harness the power of data to guide decision making, demonstrate their value and make the case for additional investment.

Defining Data

The resource Defining Data highlights the two primary types of data: numbers (quantitative) and narratives (qualitative). The resource shares fundamental information about each of these data types while highlighting their advantages and disadvantages. It also details common methods for data collection and steps to analyze the data collected. Defining Data is a short, yet comprehensive, overview that will help build your comfort level with data.

Determining Your Capacity for Evaluation

Designing and implementing an evaluation is not second nature for most park and recreation professionals. To do it right, an investment of time and money is required. Before getting started, it is best to do a “reality check” and assess whether your ideal evaluation is feasible. This resource is best suited for managers who want to determine their agency’s capacity to conduct an evaluation.

Evaluating Park Use and Quality

Developed in partnership with researchers from North Carolina State University, this resource presents an overview of measures commonly used in park evaluations. It details the “why,” “what” and “how” of measuring park use, satisfaction, safety and other metrics important to monitoring the health and vitality of a park area. If you are interested in monitoring a park to see if it is meeting the needs of the public, this resource is for you.

Additional Resources

Beyond these three new resources, the Hub contains other useful guides on relevant topics. These include:

  • Customer Feedback Surveys – Learn how to create a feedback survey and collect responses that will yield results you can act on.
  • Community Needs Assessments – Brush up on creating and conducting a community needs assessment — an invaluable planning tool that can help your agency understand how your community engages with your areas/programs, gauge satisfaction with current offerings and provide guidance on future needs and priorities.
  • Health Impact Evaluation Framework – With a focus on health programming, this framework details how to conduct a program evaluation to determine the benefits of park and recreation health interventions.
  • Data and Mapping Resource Library – Explore a diverse collection of relevant, publicly available databases and visualizations curated to assist your agency in broadening its impact on the community and operating more efficiently. The library is also an excellent place to search for data to strengthen your next grant proposal.
  • Green Infrastructure Evaluation Framework – Dive into this collection of tools, research-informed analyses, worksheets and other resources to help uncover the benefits of green infrastructure projects.

The Future of the Hub

The Evaluation Resource Hub exists to help grow the park and recreation professional’s ability to measure impact and make the case for continued support. Visit the Evaluation Resource Hub and let us know your ideas on topics to cover in future resources. Email your thoughts to

Austin Barrett (he/him) is a Senior Evaluation Manager at NRPA.