Cleveland Metroparks today was awarded the 2021 National Gold Medal “Best in Nation” Award for Excellence in Parks and Recreation Management. The award, which was announced at the 2021 National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, is the highest national honor in the parks and recreation field.
The Gold Medal Awards program is managed and governed by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) in partnership with NRPA. Founded in 1965, the 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.
"We’re thrilled to be recognized among our national peers as the top park system in the country and bring the Gold Medal home to our communities in Northeast Ohio,” said Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian M. Zimmerman. “I want to thank Judge Anthony J. Russo, our Board of Park Commissioners, all of our dedicated staff and volunteers, as well as our passionate community for the tremendous support it takes to be recognized at the highest level. All of Northeast Ohio should be proud of our Emerald Necklace and what we have accomplished together for the betterment of our region.”
The national recognition follows several recent significant accomplishments by Cleveland Metroparks including a record-breaking 19.7 million recreational visitors in 2020, the addition of over 700 acres and nearly 30 miles of trails across the Emerald Necklace, and the completion of the Re-Connecting Cleveland TIGER trails project that links more than 66,000 Cleveland residents to the region’s vast trail network, lakefront and Cleveland’s urban core. 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 is the fifth Gold Medal Cleveland Metroparks has been awarded in the program’s history and the second awarded to Cleveland Metroparks under the leadership of Zimmerman. Park systems are only eligible to win the award once every five years. Applications are separated into seven classes, with five classes based on population, one class for state parks and one class for armed forces. Cleveland Metroparks was awarded the Gold Medal in the Class 1 category, representing the largest park systems across the country based upon population served.
Jane H. Adams, Executive Director and Gold Medal Program Administrator for the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, shared “Each of our 2021 Grand Plaque recipients show a remarkable resilience as well concern for their constituents and staff in continuing to provide critical services during this COVID pandemic. The pandemic has shed light on the essential services be provided by park and recreation agencies, military installations, and state park systems.”
For more information on the Gold Medal Awards, visit www.aapra.org
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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