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/ Categories: National Gold Medal

Grand Plaque Recipients Announced in the 2023 National Gold Medal Awards in Parks and Recreation

Public, State Parks and Armed Forces Agencies receive premiere award in the park and recreation industry

Founded in 1965, the 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. Applications are separated into six classes, with five classes based on population and one class for armed forces.

The following agencies received the Grand Plaque award after first receiving the Finalist award:

Class I (population 400,001 and over): Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation, Virginia Beach, VA
Class II (population 150,001 –400,000): City of Plano Parks & Recreation Department, Plano, TX
Class III (population 75,001–150,000): Champaign Park District, Champaign, IL
Class IV (population 30,001 –75,000): Hoffman Estates Park District, Hoffman Estates, IL
Class V (population less than 30,000): Cullman Parks, Recreation, and Sports Tourism, Cullman, AL
Armed Forces Recreation: Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Kanagawa, Japan
State Parks: Texas State Parks, Austin, TX

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. Each of these agencies first received the Finalist Plaque in their category. For the Grand Plaque round of judging, each Finalist had to submit a five-minute video which supports their application and the judges reviewed progress on the agency’s strategic plan.

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

For more information on the Gold Medal Awards, visit or


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

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 For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit

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

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