Special to 1808Delaware:

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) dedication to enhancing the visitor experience at state parks has earned national recognition. Ohio State Parks was named a 2021 National Gold Medal Award Finalist by The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The Gold Medal honors park systems across the country that demonstrate excellence, innovation, and a strong sense of community.

Delaware County is home to two state parks, Delaware and Alum Creek.

“Being a finalist is a tremendous honor, and it’s no surprise to Ohioans who have been visiting Ohio State Parks in record numbers,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “We’re grateful for the public’s longstanding support for our parks, and, regardless of the outcome, we will continue working hard to provide visitors with a world-class experience where priceless memories can be made in the great outdoors.”

The efforts ODNR has put into superior strategic planning, customer service and engagement, facility renovations and improvements, and ongoing work to upgrade Ohio State Parks program landed it one of the three finalists spots in the State Park Systems category.

“Each Finalist is congratulated for this prestigious award. We know local communities, state park systems, and military installations worldwide met the challenge of being responsive to the changing demands of delivering services during the COVID 19 pandemic,” said AAPRA Executive Director Jane H. Adams. “Park visitors and program participants have come to rely upon their service provider for physical, mental, and emotional support during this pandemic. The Academy congratulates each Finalist for their management excellence during this unprecedented time.”

This video shows what makes Ohio State Parks a special experience.

Founded in 1965, the National 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. A panel of five highly qualified park and recreation professionals will review and judge all finalists’ application materials. Judges are chosen for their considerable experience and knowledge in parks and recreation on both the local and national levels.

Other outstanding parks systems in Ohio are also Gold Medal finalists. Cleveland Metro Parks and Centerville-Washington Park District were also considered among the best applicants in their respective population categories.

This year’s finalists will compete for the Grand Plaque Award honors this summer, and seven Grand Plaque recipients will be announced during the 2021 NRPA Conference, which will be held virtually and in person September 21-23 in Nashville, Tennessee. The presentation of both the Finalist and Grand Plaque recipients is being finalized and details will be forthcoming.

For more information on the National Gold Medal Award Program, visit www.aapra.org.

Image by macphysto from Pixabay

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