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Champaign Park District Named Finalist for National Award Second Consecutive Year

Champaign Park District Named Finalist for National Award Second Consecutive Year

Champaign Park Board President Kevin Miller with Gold Medal Finalist Plaque and 2 representatives from AAPRA/NRPA

Champaign, IL – The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), announced the Champaign Park District as a finalist for the 2023 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. 

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 seven classes, with five classes based on population, one class for armed forces recreation and one class, awarded on odd numbered years, for state park systems. 

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. The Champaign Park District joined three other finalists in Class III (population 75,001 – 150,000). 

In announcing the 2023 National Gold Medal Finalists, AAPRA Executive Director Jane H. Adams shared, “Each agency is commended for submitting a 2023 application for the prestigious National Gold Medal Award. The Academy congratulates the 20 local park and recreation agencies, the four armed forces installations, and the four state park systems on receiving the Finalist award. We look forward to presenting these awards at the Gold Medal Gala Reception in Dallas, Texas, as part of the National Recreation and Park Association’s annual conference.” 

A panel of five park and recreation professionals reviews and judges all application materials. Judges are chosen for their considerable experience and knowledge in parks and recreation both locally and nationally. 

This year’s finalists will compete for Grand Plaque Award honor, and the seven Grand Plaque recipients will be announced at the 2023 NRPA Annual Conference in Dallas, TX in October. For information on the Gold Medal Awards, visit AAPRA or NRPA. 

“We are thrilled to be selected as a Finalist,” said Sarah Sandquist, Champaign Park District Executive Director. “The Gold Medal Award showcases the best of the best among Parks and Recreation agencies throughout the country, and we are honored to be recognized for the high level of service and innovative programming we provide to the residents of Champaign.”  

Champaign Park District has been named a National Recreation and Park Association Gold Medal Award Winning Agency three times in the past: 1979, 1990, and 1998, and was named a finalist in 2022, in addition to 11 other times since 1970. Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation, a joint effort between Champaign and Urbana Park Districts, also won the NRPA Gold Medal Award in 1996. 

For more information on the Gold Medal Awards, visit www.nrpa.org/goldmedal or www.aapra.org. 


Chelsea Norton 
Director of Marketing & Development, Champaign Park District 

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