Will compete for the “Best in Nation” award following record-breaking year, major capital improvement projects and inclusivity campaign
Cleveland Metroparks today announced it has been named a finalist for the 2021 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Parks and Recreation Management. Cleveland’s “Emerald Necklace” is among four finalists in its population category nationwide that will compete for the “Best in Nation” Gold Medal Award that is managed and governed by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).
Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors public park and recreation agencies and state park systems in the U.S. that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Applications are separated into six classes, with five classes based on population and one class for armed forces. Cleveland Metroparks is a finalist in the Class 1 category, representing the largest park systems across the country based upon population served.
AAPRA Executive Director Jane H. Adams shared, “Each Finalist is congratulated for this prestigious award. We know local communities, state park systems, and military installations worldwide met the challenge of being responsive to the changing demands of delivering services during the COVID 19 pandemic. Park visitors and program participants have come to rely upon their service provider for physical, mental, and emotional support during this pandemic. The Academy congratulates each Finalist for their management excellence during this unprecedented time.”
The announcement follows a record-breaking year in 2020 for Cleveland Metroparks, with more than 19.7 million recreational visitors, the highest in its 103-year-history. As the park system grows in size and popularity locally, it continues to garner recognition among its peers nationwide. This week Cleveland Metroparks will celebrate a new milestone with the opening of the Red Line Greenway as part of the transformative Re-Connecting Cleveland Project. Cleveland Metroparks also recently launched a free mobile app as part of its Find Your Path campaign to encourage exploration and inclusivity across the park system.
"We are honored to be named as a finalist for the prestigious Gold Medal award alongside such great park systems across the country,” said Cleveland Metroparks Chief Executive Officer Brian M. Zimmerman. “This recognition is a testament to our team that goes above-and-beyond every day to strengthen our mission of conservation, education and recreation for all.”
Cleveland Metroparks has been awarded the Gold Medal four times in the program’s history, including most recently in 2016. Park systems are only eligible to win the award once every five years. The Gold Medal program is one of the highest professional awards available to parks and recreation agencies nationwide and involves a stringent qualification and judging process.
Cleveland Metroparks now totals over 24,000 acres and over the last three years has built or rehabilitated over 27 miles of trails, enhancing the direct connectivity to 49 diverse communities. A 2018 Trust for Public Land study revealed that Cleveland Metroparks generates an annual regional economic impact of $873 million by enhancing property values, reducing stormwater runoff, improving local health and wellness, and generating tourism.
This year’s finalists will compete for the Grand Plaque Award honors this summer, and seven Grand Plaque recipients will be announced during the 2021 NRPA Conference, which will be held virtually and in person September 21-23 in Nashville, Tennessee. The presentation of both the Finalist and Grand Plaque recipients is being finalized and details will be forthcoming. For more information on the Gold Medal Awards, visit www.aapra.org
Musco Lighting, LLC
is proud to continue its 20+ years of sponsoring the National Gold Medal Awards program.
The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration
is a nonprofit organization founded to advance knowledge related to the administration of recreation and parks; to encourage scholarly efforts by both practitioners and educators that would enhance the practice of park and recreation administration; to promote broader public understanding of the importance of parks and recreation to the public good; and, to conduct research, publish scholarly papers and sponsor seminars related to the advancement of park and recreation administration. For more information, visit www.aapra.org
Partner: The National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org
. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation
, visit www.parksandrecreation.org
Sponsor: Musco Lighting, LLC
is a company that has specialized in lighting systems for sports and large areas for more than 30 years. Musco has pioneered dramatic improvements in energy efficiency and affordable ways to control wasted spill light and glare. Permanent and temporary lighting services range from neighborhood fields to NASCAR super speedways. For more information, visit www.musco.com
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