NASHVILLE – Tennessee State Parks is a finalist for the 2021 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, according to the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).
“Our state parks system is embedded in the fabric of Tennessee communities,” said David Salyers, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “Resource protection, natural beauty, top-notch facilities and outdoor experiences make Tennessee State Parks among the best in the nation.”
The National Gold Medal awards looks at successes in state park management over the last several years. During that time, significant strides have been made in capital project completion at state parks. These include the opening of fully renovated lodges at Montgomery Bell and Pickwick Landing state parks; rejuvenating 1930s era cabins at Standing Stone, Pickett and Cumberland Mountain state parks; and the construction of the Fall Creek Falls and Cummins Falls visitors centers. Tennessee State Parks prioritizes access to outdoor recreation by partnering with school districts and rural and distressed counties to improve local access and drive tourism to these communities. Tennessee State Parks provided much-needed places of respite during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 34 million visitors took advantage of Tennessee State Parks in 2020, with record-setting campground and cabin occupancy.
Founded in 1965, the National 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.
Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff, and elected officials. Tennessee State Parks joins three other finalists in the state parks category: Delaware State Parks, Ohio Division of State Parks & Watercraft, and Texas State Parks. A panel of five park and recreation professionals reviews and judges all application materials. A winner will be announced during the 2021 NRPA Annual Conference in Nashville, Sept. 21–23, 2021.
Tennessee State Parks
From its beginning in 1937, Tennessee State Parks were established to protect and preserve the unique natural, cultural, and historic resources of Tennessee. The public interest has also been served by a variety of benefits for citizens and communities produced by our state park system, promoting stronger communities and healthier citizens across the state through diverse resource-based recreation. Tennessee State Parks is one of only two state park systems in the nation to receive accreditation through the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). For more information, visit tnstateparks.com.
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
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 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.