The Academy is a group of distinguished practitioners and educators who are leaders in the field of park and recreation.
Members must have served for at least 15 years in a high level of administration in a park and recreation agency or as a recognized educator in parks and recreation administration; or they must manage a park and recreation department for an agency with a population of more than 500,000.
They also must have demonstrated outstanding ability in administration, management or education in the profession; displayed broad interest with a direct service benefit to the advancement of public parks and recreation or assumed leadership with a keen desire to contribute to the advancement of the field. The Academy is limited to 125 active members.
Established in 1980, the Academy was formed to advance knowledge related to the administration of recreation and parks; encourage scholarly efforts by both practitioners and educators to enhance the practice of park and recreation administration; promote broader public understanding of the importance of parks and recreation to the public good; and conduct research, publish scholarly papers and/or sponsor seminars related to the advancement of park and recreation administration.
Through the Journal of Park and Recreation Administration with its partner Sagamore Publishing Company, the Academy encourages both practitioners and educators to develop and enhance administration in the recreation and parks field.
The Academy along with The Davey Tree Expert Company and National Park Foundation presents the Cornelius A. Pugsley Award at its Annual Banquet and interviews and distributes video tapes of Legends in the field of recreation and parks. Both the Banquet and the Legends program are made possible in part by the support of Landscape Structures, Inc.
The Academy, along with Musco Lighting, sponsors the Gold Medal Awards Program; and the Academy's newest partner, Xccent, Inc., helps to support the Academy Externship program that allows young, promising members of the profession to attend the NRPA Congress while being mentored by Academy Members. In addition, AAPRA and the National Recreation and Park Association oversee the selection of members for the Hall of Fame.