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.
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 be a political appointee who manages 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 roles with a keen desire to contribute to the advancement of the field. The Academy is limited to 125 active Fellows.
Members are elected into the Academy by its Board of Directors upon recommendation from the Membership Committee. Interested individuals must be nominated by a current member; they must meet the membership requirements; complete the nomination application; and two additional members must submit letters of support for the nominee. A list of current members is provided here.
Through the Journal of Park and Recreation Administration with its partner Sagamore Venture Publishing Company, the Academy encourages both practitioners and educators to develop and enhance administration in the recreation and parks field through research.
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 makes available 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 National Gold Medal Awards Program which honors park and recreation agencies, state park systems, and military installations that demonstrate excellence in long range planning, resource management, and innovative approaches to delivering superb park and recreation services with fiscally sound business practices. AAPRA and the National Recreation and Park Association oversee the selection of members for the Hall of Fame and the accreditation of park and recreation agencies through the Commission for the Accreditation of Park & Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).