Pugsley Medal

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The Honorable Cornelius Amory Pugsley Medals are the most prestigious awards that recognize outstanding contributions to the promotion and development of public parks and conservation in the United States.


The inaugural Pugsley Medals were awarded in 1928. The winner of the first National level award was Stephen T. Mather, the first director and "father" of the National Park Service. The distinguished pedigree of subsequent honorees has confirmed the prestige and status of this medal.

The Pugsley Medal purpose is to honor outstanding contributions in parks and conservation. The Pugsley Medal is awarded to citizens, political leaders, park and conservation professionals who have dedicated their efforts to the advancement of parks and conservation at the local, regional, state, or national levels. Medal recipients inspire us as they have accomplished great things in furthering the parks and conservation agenda in the United States in their community in their region or state or nationally. 

Pugsley Medal recipients represent a cross-section of the park and conservation leaders. Some recipients are legendary national leaders such as Stephen Mather, Horace Albright, Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr., and Lamar Alexander. In contrast, most Pugsley Medalists have a much lower national profile; and yet their stories are equally remarkable. Consider Margo K. Frankel (1932) who received a medal for her work in extending the Iowa State Park System or Beatrice Ward Nelson (1928) for her work with the National Conference on State Parks or Anita Gorman (2017) for her service on the Kansas City (MO) Park & Recreation Commission. 

2022 Pugsley Medal was awarded to William Mitchell, Executive Director (retired), Bucks County, Department of Parks and Recreation, Pennsylvania.

2024 nominations will open Thursday, April 6th and close Friday June 9, 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time with the medal presented in the fall.

Questions can be directed to the Pugsley Committee Chair, Elizabeth Kessler, ekessler@mccdistrict.org, (815) 338-6223.

The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration gratefully acknowledges the supporting sponsorship of The Davey Tree Expert Company. The professional reputation and capabilities of The Davey Tree Expert Company have grown over nearly 130 years to assume a leadership position across North America and internationally in tree, natural resource, and environmental management. Integrity is a core value of  Davey Tree, inspiring trust and confidence with its customers through dependable, honest, and consistently excellent service. A flourishing, employee-owned enterprise with over 11,000 associates, Davey Tree seeks to maintain the beauty and welfare of the natural environment. For further information regarding The Davey Tree Expert Company and their support of professional development, refer to www.davey.com.

Medal Criteria 
1. Nominee must be living at the time of nomination and must be a U.S. citizen. 
2. Nominee will have preserved, facilitated, enhanced and/or created park and/or conservation lands which have significantly enriched the lives of people and/or made significant contributions to maintaining biodiversity. 
3. Nominee may have developed or refined techniques or programs which advance the cause of parks and/or conservation. 
4. Nominee’s record reflects advocacy, originality, courageous decision-making, and dedication to the public good. 
5. The award recognizes achievements/accomplishments, not longevity and/or effort. The award recognizes a life or career-long record of accomplishments. The award is not given for a “one-time” achievement. 
6. Past recipients have been acknowledged as leaders in professional organizations, but the award is not given for service in such organizations. 
7. Nominee’s personal and/or professional record shall not have unverified or verified allegations that would tarnish the reputation of The Honorable Cornelius Amory Pugsley Medal.
8. A nominee may only be considered twice within a five year period.