Recognition & Awards

2019 Annual Conference & Expo Awards

The Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society is please 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.

2019 Awards Program & Application 
(will be available in November)

                 •  Awards Criteria
                 •  Awards Nomination Form
                 •  Awards Nomination Form for Agency of the Year

• 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 over the previous five 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 services in the past 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.

• Excellence in Recreation and Parks

Recipients of these awards must demonstrate outstanding quality; innovation; range and value of appeal; community support; efficient use of funding, human and material resources in development, delivery and use of programs, special events, publications and promotions.

Nominations are rated independently by each member of the Recognition and Awards Committee.  Entries are rated on a scale of 1-5 for each POWER principle identified under #5.  The total number of awards is 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 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 Programming and/or Publication/Promotion Awards.

5. Entries are assessed on how well they demonstrate the POWER principles. The project, program or initiative merits recognition because it empowers individuals or organizations to:

Positions. Public parks and recreation as an essential community service.  Tell how the entry advances the role and importance of public parks and recreation, shows benefits of parks and recreation, and improves the quality of life in the community.
Outcome based. Describe 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, innovative twist, or a creative approach to managing and/or providing public parks and recreation. Present 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 change.  Address 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. It demonstrates strategies, resources, 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 a variety of sources including partnerships in the public, private and non-profit sectors; use of 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, at 215-683-0203.

Additional Awards Chosen Outside of the Recognition and Awards Committee include:
Playground Safety
Green Parks Award
The John H. “Jack” Snyder Community Service Award

Listing of Past Award Recipients
Past Award Recipients

2019 Therapeutic Recreation Awards

Award Categories
(not available at this time)

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

Please send completed application to:

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

Listing of Past Award Recipients
Past award recipients



Memorial Scholarship
William P. Dayton Memorial Scholarship (for Students only)