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Parks and Recreation Highlights

Posted on: May 17, 2021

Parks & Recreation named 2021 Gold Medal Awards Finalist

Gold Medal Finalist Logo 2021

The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), is pleased to announce Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation Department as a finalist for the 2021 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. Chesterfield is one of four finalists, and the only Virginia agency, in their population category. Musco Lighting, LLC is proud to continue its 20+ years of sponsoring the National Gold Medal Awards program. 

Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation Director, Bob Smet, was thrilled to receive the news. “We are so excited to be a finalist for the 2021 National Gold Medal Award.  To be named a finalist highlights the dedication, creativity, and adaptability of an amazing team. This recognition would not have been possible without the support of our elected officials, county administration, and the citizens. From all the volunteers that support youth athletics to our fantastic community partners – everyone played a role in getting us to this point.  The gold medal is just about the highest honor a parks and recreation agency can receive.” 

Founded in 1965, the National Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the United States that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development, and agency recognition. 

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.” 

Applications are separated into six classes, with five classes based on population and one class for armed forces. Chesterfield Parks and Recreation is a finalist in the Class II category, with populations of 150,001 to 400,000.  The recognition is more than a thumbs up.  It highlights the added quality of life for Chesterfield County.  Garrett Hart, Director of Chesterfield County’s Economic Development Department remarked, “businesses can locate anywhere, and more frequently people can work from anywhere.  People want a great quality of life, a big part of that are engaging recreational opportunities and a great park system.”   

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff members and elected officials. Chesterfield Parks and Recreation joins three other finalists in their class that will compete for the Grand Plaque to be awarded in September. Other finalists in this category include Des Moines, Iowa; Tampa, Florida; and Wichita, Kansas.

A panel of five highly qualified park and recreation professionals will review and judge all application materials. Judges are chosen for their considerable experience and knowledge in parks and recreation on both the local and national levels.  

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 National Gold Medal Award Program, visit www.aapra.org

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