Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission announced as finalist in 2017 National Gold Medal Awards

Titlow Trail Photo by Morf Morford

Titlow Trail
Photo by Morf Morford

“Nature’s first green is gold” (Robert Frost)

 

Tacoma’s Metro Parks also named a finalist for National Gold Medal Award

The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), is pleased to announce that Washington State Parks has been named a finalist for the 2017 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management.

Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities 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 seven classes, with five classes based on population, one class for armed forces recreation and one class for state park systems awarded on odd numbered years.

The agency is a finalist in the State Parks category. The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages one of the largest and most diverse state park systems in the country, with 125 parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The park system receives approximately 35 million visits a year, resulting in a total economic contribution of $1.4 billion. Washington’s state parks lie along the Pacific Coast, Puget Sound and San Juan Islands and in lowland forest, mountains and lakes, as well as in desert, sage and shrub-steppe regions of Eastern Washington. The Commission provides a wide range of recreation opportunities as well as stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources.  Statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.

For the National Gold Medal Award, agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of citizens, staff and elected officials. Washington State Parks joins three other finalists in their class that will compete for grand honors this year.

“We are very pleased and excited to be named a finalist for this very prestigious award,” said Don Hoch, State Parks director.  “We’ve been through some very tough times and are now on a positive path, because of the creativity, hard work and dedication of our staff and Commission.”

A panel of five park and recreation professionals reviews and judges 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 Grand Plaque Award honors this summer, and the seven Grand Plaque recipients will be announced live during the NRPA General Session at the 2017 NRPA Annual Conference Sept. 26 to 28, in New Orleans.

For more information on the Gold Medal Awards, visit www.nrpa.org/goldmedal or www.aapra.org.

The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration is a non-profit 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.

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of nearly 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.

– Washington State Parks

Metro Parks named finalist for National Gold Medal Award
Park district will compete for major honor awarded in park and recreation industry

Metro Parks Tacoma is a finalist for the prestigious National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. “This award is the top of our profession, and it is a great privilege to be a finalist with other outstanding park systems,” said Andrea Smith, president of the Metro Parks Board of Commissioners. “We work hard to be the best of the best, and we owe so much of our success to supportive citizens and partners who enhance our efforts to serve the community.”

Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities 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.

Many of Metro Parks’ accomplishments in past years are heavily dependent on the partnerships its leaders have nurtured with other agencies. Collaborations have led to the Science and Math Institute, a one-of-a-kind public high school inside Point Defiance Park; coordination of seasonal athletics at all 35 elementary schools to overcome transportation barriers; therapy shark dives for wounded veterans; and an expansion of mountain biking trails at Swan Creek Park. With support from multiple agencies, Metro Parks is transforming the contaminated ASARCO breakwater peninsula at Point Defiance Park into 11 acres of waterfront park land.

“We strive to stretch public resources for maximum benefit,” said Commissioner Aaron Pointer, who serves in the No. 2 role as clerk of the district’s Board of Commissioners. “Metro Parks wants what’s best for the residents of our community regardless of agency turf, so we work hard to build bridges and make the best use of public dollars that we can.”

Smith and Pointer also noted Metro Parks’ diverse assets, which include the 760-acre Point Defiance Park, two zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums; sports complexes; pools and spraygrounds; community centers; a marina; a living history museum; community gardens; and a Victorian-style conservatory inside an arboretum.

Established in 1907 as the Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma, Metro Parks is the oldest independent park district in the state of Washington.
Gold Medal finalists were announced Wednesday, May 10, by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Applications are separated into seven classes, with five classes based on population, one class for armed forces recreation and one class for state park systems awarded on odd numbered years. Metro Parks is a finalist in the category for population 150,000 – 400,000. Metro Parks was a Gold Medal winner in 1985 and 1992.

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of citizens, staff and elected officials. Metro Parks joins three other finalists in their class that will compete for grand honors this year: Arlington Parks and Recreation (Texas), City of Grand Prairie (Texas), and Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District (Beaverton, Ore.).
A panel of five park and recreation professionals reviews and judges all application materials. Judges are chosen for their considerable experience and knowledge in parks and recreation on both the local and national levels.
The seven Grand Plaque recipients will be announced during the 2017 NRPA Annual Conference in New Orleans, Sept. 26-28, 2017.

-MetroParks Tacoma