Recognition & Awards

GOOD JOB! Award (closed)

Inspired by the belief that local parks and recreation improves the lives of all Pennsylvanians, the Good For You, Good For All campaign raises awareness and use of our essential local assets. Pennsylvania Park and Recreation Professionals Day is celebrated each third Friday in July during National Park and Recreation Month. It honors those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to provide the high quality programs and facilities we desire and expect in our parks and public spaces.

The GOOD JOB! Award is presented annually on Park and Recreation Professionals Day to an individual whose contributions, through leadership, community outreach, facility management, maintenance, or program and event planning, have directly influenced the health and vitality of their community.

Eligible Recipients: Any fulltime, part-time, or volunteer parks and recreation practitioner who has shown outstanding dedication to the field and has directly impacted the local community. Nominee criteria include: Demonstrated community leadership qualities. Involvement in innovative parks and recreation initiatives. Contributions to improvements in the recreation and park system. Outstanding, long-term impacts to the local community.

Nomination Process   Nominations are submitted via this online form based on the above criteria, along with a short video (less than 5 minutes) or slides highlighting the nominee’s efforts and achievements. Candidates may be self-nominated. 

Award Winners Awardees are requested to record a short acceptance video or be available for an in-person award presentation during the third week in July.

The GOOD JOB! Award is presented annually on behalf of the Good For You, Good For All campaign by the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society.

Annual Conference & Expo Awards

The Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society is pleased to acknowledge outstanding achievements by agencies, boards, commissions, and individuals toward the advancement of community recreation and park services through it Recognition & Awards Program. Open to PRPS member and non-member individuals, agencies, companies, organizations, and universities; awards are presented annually.

The PRPS Board of Directors and Recognition & Awards Committee thank you for your interest in the Awards Program as we endeavor to recognize and applaud the talent, determination, commitment, creativity and quality of Pennsylvania professionals, elected officials, legislators, volunteers, programs, facilities, publications, and promotions.

2024 Awards Program & Online Forms - will open in November!

 Awards Program
Award Descriptions, and Evaluation Criteria

Outstanding Achievement Award, Distinguished Member Award, Outstanding New Professional, Community Champion

Excellence in Recreation & Parks
Criteria Awards for Excellence in Recreation & Parks

Agency of the Year
Criteria Agency of the Year

Green Parks Awards
Criteria Green Parks

Congratulations 2023 Conference & Expo Award Winners!

Outstanding Achievement Award in Honor of Fred M. Coombs

John Mikowychok

John dedicated his entire career to enhancing the parks and recreational opportunities for residents at the local, county and statewide level. He has been an active PRPS member for over forty-five (45) years, has contributed numerous articles to the Society’s magazine and has served on PRPS Conference, Membership, Governmental Affairs, Public Awareness and Professional Training Committees. John’s legacy is his over 40 years of continued service to the Park Resources Branch. He has held every Branch Executive Committee position and was the editor of the “Branches” newsletter for 35 years. John volunteered to design the landscape plan for the PRPS Office property and implemented the plan through the Branch’s many “work days”. Whether he is writing an article, mentoring other professionals or performing as a member of the “Supreme Beings of Parks and Leisure,” John’s level of dedication and professionalism is second to none. 

Distinguished Member Award in Honor of Robert D. Griffith

Mike Richino, CPRP, Whitpain Township Parks & Recreation

Mike has a positive impact on the Whitpain Township Community where he serves as the Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation. He also has been a dedicated member of PRPS since 2001. He has held Society positions at both the District and Board of Directors level. His last active involvement with PRPS was as the President of District 3 ending in 2022 and is the current D3 Past President. Mike’s enthusiasm, creativity and organizational skills have benefited the Society with his involvement in past annual conferences as a co-chair of the Exhibit Hall and as a member of the Local Arrangements, Exhibit Hall and Social Committees. Throughout his 23 years, Mike has served PRPS with professionalism and dedication earning him the respect and admiration of his peers. 

Outstanding New Professional

Emily Baiada, CPRP, CYSA, Springfield Township Parks & Recreation

In her nearly eight years in the Park and Recreation field, Emily has been fortunate to share her passions with those in her community. Her love of recreation, sports, the outdoors and helping others has grown stronger as the community emphasizes the essential nature of the profession. Through her work she has made a positive impact that will hopefully pave the way for future Park and Rec Kids just like her!

Agency of the Year Award

Sponsored by BAB Enterprises

Mechanicsburg Area Parks & Recreation

In 1976, the Mechanicsburg Area School District alongside the Upper Allen Township, Mechanicsburg and Shiremanstown Boroughs developed the first Joint Board Recreation Agreement to provide the community with a comprehensive recreational programs for all. The leaders of the Mechanicsburg Area shared a vision and foresight that many strive to acquire to this day. Since the pandemic, the department has aligned itself with the changing needs of the community and designed, implemented, and continue to evaluate the effectiveness of the programming initiatives over the past five years. The past two years, they have led their organization into a new era, “life after the pandemic” and they are constantly researching, evaluating, creating, and planning, to be the essential service and far exceed the expectations of our community.

Community Champion Awards

Carmen Battavio, East Goshen Township

For over 50 years, Carmen Battavio has been the soul of East Goshen Township. He has served as elected official, firefighter, open space advocate, Township beekeeper, community builder, Santa and family man.

Ron Robbins, Eastern York Recreation Authority

For 28 years, Ron Robbins has dedicated his time and talents to the Eastern York area ensuring the youth have what they need to succeed. From coaching to rehabilitating ballfields, securing donations to managing disagreements, and winterizing facilities to overseeing the funnel cake stand, Ron also serves as the Chairperson of our Park & Recreation Board. He is always thinking about the next project and how it will benefit others. 


Excellence in Recreation & Parks

Northampton Township Parks & Recreation
“Northampton Township 300th Anniversary Celebration” Director: Jennifer Fean Northampton Township celebrated its' 300 year Anniversary with a year long commitment to offer diversified, historically educational, culturally significant and authentic presentations to all generations of their Community to celebrate this milestone achievement.

Ohio Township Parks & Recreation
“Tree Lighting Celebration and Tree-Lit Trail” Director: Andy Rubino Although Ohio Township’s Tree Lighting Celebration isn’t a unique event, one aspect is unique. The tree lit nature trail that was on display during their Annual Tree Lighting involves the efforts of 18 different local boy scout and girl scout groups. Each group decorated a tree along the pathway to be on display at the event and through the holiday season. 

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation
“Kensington Initiatives” Director: Kathryn Ott Lovell In 2022, working with community partners, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and many others including Philadelphia Police Department, CLIP, etc., PPR transformed Kensington neighborhood parks and rec centers (McPherson Square, Harrowgate, Hissey, Scanlon rec Center and pool) with new community-designed activations and programs. PPR provided safe and fun expanded programming to thousands of Kensington families through Kensington PlayParks and a SwimPhilly activations. 

Pottstown Parks & Recreation
“Pottstown Play Streets” Director: Michael Lenhart Program Coordinator: Andie Graham The Pottstown Play Streets program was created in 2022 to fulfill the varied needs to build the community mindset of the residents of Pottstown Borough. The inaugural seven-week program was offered Thursday evenings at different locations throughout the Borough. Pottstown Parks and Recreation closed a community block to traffic adjacent to the parks at each location and offered fun and games for all who cared to join. It presented an opportunity to be active outdoors during the summer and explore the neighborhood parks. 

Reading Recreation Commission, Reading Area Water Authority, and City of Reading
“Wacky Water Wednesday” Directors: Daphne E. Klahr, Ed.D., CPRE; Bill Murray; The Honorable Eddie Moran Program Leaders: Daphne E. Klahr, Ed.D., CPRE; Bill Murray; Sgt. Darrin C. Dougherty 5 In response to the City of Reading’s only public pool closing due to Covid-19 mandates in 2020, the Reading Recreation Commission launched a summer initiative - Wacky Water Wednesday. Every Wednesday throughout the summer, RRC staff and city officials went from one neighborhood to the next, closed streets, and opened fire hydrants so kids could cool off and have fun. This initiative has continued with a lot of support from the community and is planned already for 2023.

Quakertown Borough Parks & Recreation
Director: Ashton Miller For the past 50 years, Quakertown Borough Parks and Recreation has hosted its summer K.I.D.S. What started in 1972 as a free half day summer program for 20 children a day has since grown to be a full day summer camp for low-income families, hosting over 110 children each week. The program which previously had limited resources has grown to encompass an educational component, developed community support, is accessible for low-income households, and became a staple in the community resulting in campers leaving at the end of the summer proud to be a Park and Rec Kid!

“Sounds of Summer Concert Series” Director: Ashton Miller Every summer for the past six years, the Quakertown Parks & Recreation Department has hosted the Sounds of Summer Concert Series presented by Sands Auto Group at the Univest Performance Center. Over the years the department has secured more than 30 renowned artists for the concert series including Pat Benatar, The Beach Boys, and Rodney Atkins to name a few. The Sounds of Summer Concert Series supports the Boroughs revitalization efforts by bringing not only the community together but attracting individuals from all over to the community’s hidden gem and promoting community pride through music. 

Upper Gwynedd Township
“Blind Sports Day” Director: Sarah Prebis Program Coordinator: Leigha Adduci Getty Upper Gwynedd Township Parks & Recreation partnered with the Blind Sports Organization to host, Blind Sports Day for children and families who were either blind or visually impaired. Blind Sports Day was an opportunity to introduce some of the many adaptive sports available in the community of the blind or visually impaired. Participants had the opportunity to attend introductory sessions run by experienced volunteers which included Goalball, Beep Baseball, Blind Soccer, Blind Tennis, and Beep Kickball. No experience was necessary, and all ability levels were welcome. Blind Sports Day allowed for Upper Gwynedd Township to celebrate all abilities. Whether an individual wanted to enjoy the sunny day with a treat, train to be a Paralympian, or just wanted to participate in a fun activity to get moving, Blind Sports Day had a place for everyone!

Township of Upper Providence Parks & Recreation
“ADA Playground” Director: Sue Hoffman Township of Upper Providence is home to six unique parks with wide ranging of amazing amenities but despite all of the amenities, upon completion of a Park Master Plan in 2020, a critical need for a new, accessible playground emerged. With the combined work of the Parks and Recreation Dept, Public Works Dept., Police Dept., Fire Dept., Board of Supervisors, and several contractors, Upper Providence Township has given the community a brand new, state of the art, ADA accessible playground in the heart of the township.

Township of Upper St. Clair Recreation & Leisure Services
“Lifeguard Buddies” Director: Paul Besterman Aquatic Coordinator: Cary Johns Recreation and Leisure Services created the Lifeguard Buddies program in the summer of 2021 in effort to protect a kid from bullying by other children. In the summer of 2022 they had 54 kids between the ages of 6-11 participate in the feeder program for recruiting lifeguards to their facility. During this program the buddies learned the importance of the role and responsibilities of being a lifeguard. 

Green & Sustainable Park Award
City of Pittsburgh, Wightman Park
City of Pittsburgh Wightman Park Wightman Park demonstrates successful integration of green and sustainable practices that meets the recreation and stormwater infrastructure needs of an urban neighborhood in the City of Pittsburgh. Designed by Pashek + MTR for the City’s Department of Public Works, the two-acre park includes a playground, multi-use field, half-court basketball, a pavilion, walking path, restrooms, and boardwalk. About 30 acres of runoff (over 400,000 gallons per storm event) from the neighborhood flows into a rain garden in the center of the park and tanks buried under the playground, court area, and field. The park preserves existing trees, reuses pavers, uses products with recycled steel, and includes native trees and meadow plantings to increase biodiversity and wildlife habitat. It also contains an inclusive playground, accessible walks, and the City’s first adult changing table. This intergenerational park includes a boardwalk through the rain garden and educational signs to connect people to nature.

Outstanding Achievement Award in Honor of Fred Coombs

This is the highest award presented by PRPS.  Candidates are current or retired PRPS professional members, with a minimum of 10 years compensated experience, whose efforts have had lasting value and impact as well as served to increase awareness of the importance of the parks and recreation profession. Service in the following areas is considered:  Speeches, Writing, Research, Professional Development; Community Involvement. 

Dr. Fred Coombs was a distinguished professor in the Parks and Recreation Department at Penn State University for over 30 years.  He was instrumental in establishing community recreation programs throughout the Commonwealth as well as a founding member of PRPS, serving as the Executive Secretary for the Society until a full-time Executive Director was hired in 1977.

PRPS Distinguished Member Award in Honor of Robert D. Griffith

Candidates are current professional members, with a minimum of 10 years compensated experience, who have consistently contributed to the advancement of the Society, affiliated organizations or the profession in a variety of ways.

Robert Griffith was the first full-time Executive Director of PRPS.  He served the Society in that position from 1977 until his retirement in 2011.  During his tenure as Executive Director, Bob saw PRPS grow to become not only a professional organization for those employed in the various fields of parks and recreation, but also a champion for parks, trails, greenways and open space preservation in the Commonwealth.

Outstanding New Professional Award

This award is given to outstanding individuals with less than 11 years of full-time, compensated experience in the Parks and Recreation profession.  Candidates must be current professional members who have contributed to the advancement of the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society (PRPS), affiliated organizations of PRPS, service to the candidate’s employing agency and or community.  Past winners of this award demonstrated strong leadership skills, innovative approaches, good strategic planning ability, and a proven record of building and sustaining partnerships that benefited their community.

Agency of the Year Award

The PRPS Agency of the Year Award inspires and recognizes exemplary accomplishments in positioning parks and recreation as an essential public service with meaningful community impact. The winning agency provides a fresh perspective on significant parks and recreation issues, shows innovation and collaboration, and has demonstrated a high level of resourcefulness, especially in recent years. The winning agency is required to have at least one member of PRPS in order to qualify for this award and must have demonstrated the achievements, benefits and outcomes in providing public park and recreation for a minimum of five years.

Community Champion Award

This award is to recognize individuals, groups, or partner organizations who have made an outstanding contribution through their commitment to a parks and recreation related program, event, or initiative, and have stimulated local, regional, state or national interest in parks and recreation goals and objectives. PRPS membership is not required.

Green Parks Awards

These awards seek to recognize excellence in both active and passive public parks that demonstrate integration of green and sustainable park practices. Criteria includes location, design, landscaping, maintenance, environmental stewardship, and other contributing factors. PRPS membership (of sponsoring agency or person from agency submitting for the award) is required. A specific form is to be used for this nomination.

Awards for Excellence in Recreation and Parks

Recipients of these awards must demonstrate outstanding quality, innovation, range and value of appeal, communitysupport,efficientuseoffunding,humanandmaterialresourcesinthedevelopment,deliveryanduseof programs, special events, publications and promotions.

Nominations will be rated independently by each member of the Recognition and Awards Committee. The entries will be rated on a scale of 1-5 for each POWER principle identified in item # 5. The total number of awards will be determined by the Recognition and Awards Committee and may vary from year to year.

  1. PRPS membership (of sponsoring agency or person from agency submitting the award) is required to submit an entry.

  2. The program, event, publication or promotion must have been offered or produced during the current PRPS membership year.

  3. Previous PRPS award-winning programs, special events, publications or promotions may not be resubmitted for consideration unless there have been substantial changes to the content or format. An explanation of these changes is required.

  4. Agencies or organizations may submit an unlimited number of entries under Excellence in Recreation and Parks through programming and/or publication and promotions awards nominations.

  5. Entries will be assessed on how well the project, program, or initiative demonstrates each of the POWER principles.

Positions public parks and recreation as an essential community serviceTell how theentryadvancestheroleandimportanceofpublicparksandrecreation,showsthebenefitsofparksand recreation, and improves the quality of life in the community.

Outcome basedDescribe the problem, issue, or opportunity and how the entry provided a solution to it.

Wow Factor. Explain how the entry advances parks and recreation in the community through a major accomplishment, innovation, or a creative approach to managing and/or providing public parks and recreation. Describe how the entry demonstrates creativity and innovation. This can range from start – up efforts made to establish parks and recreation, or a small but mighty effort to make something happen where parks and recreation is struggling, to the initiative of a well-established parks and recreation organization.

Effects changeAddress how the entry deals with an important issue in the field of parks and recreation such as environmental stewardship, connecting people to nature, active healthy living, or social equity. Describe how it demonstrates strategies, resources, and outreach methods to increase public awareness, or other means that produce results.

Resourcefulness. Present how the entry used creative resources and outreach methods to generate support from avarietyofsourcesincludingpartnershipsinthepublic,privateandnon-profitsectors,useof private funds, lands, facilities, or expertise, or secured support from policy makers or elected officials. 

Questions? Contact Barry Bessler, CPRP, Recognition and Awards Committee Chairperson by email at [email protected].


Listing of Past Award Recipients

Past Award Recipients


2023 Therapeutic Recreation Awards Award Categories

Robert Griffith Distinguished Member Award
Joseph M. Foley Memorial Community Service Award
Organization/Agency Award
Outstanding New Professional Award
Society Citation
Outstanding Program Award

Please send completed application to:

Melissa Tomko
1215 Hulton Road
Oakmont, PA 15139
Questions: Call or email Misse at [email protected] or call 412-826-6505.


William P. Dayton Memorial Scholarship (for Students only)


Listing of Past Award Recipients
Past award recipients