Recognition & Awards

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.

2023 Awards Program & Online Forms - Nominations are closed as of January 13, 2023.

All nominations must be submitted online and received by January 13, 2023. If you have any questions, please email Emily S. at [email protected].

Awards Program
Award Descriptions, and Evaluation Criteria

Outstanding Achievement Award, Distinguished Member Award, Outstanding New Professional, Community Champion
- Online Nomination Form

Excellence in Recreation & Parks
Criteria Awards for Excellence in Recreation & Parks
- Online Nomination Form

Agency of the Year
Criteria Agency of the Year
- Online Nomination Form

Green Parks Awards
Criteria  Green Parks
- Online Nomination Form

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

GOOD JOB! Award - Winner Mitchell Kulp, Lower Gwynedd Township

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.

Congratulations to the 2022 Award Winners!


Cynthia Dunlap, DCNR


Karen A. Sweeney, Doylestown Township


Upper Dublin Township Parks and Recreation


Ashton Miller, Borough of Quakertown


Bill Forrey, Camp Hill Borough


St. Luke’s University Health Network


Camp Hill Borough



Bristol Township Parks and Recreation - “Rec from Home”

Camp Hill Recreation - “Parade of Lights for Toys for Tots”

Cranberry Township Parks and Recreation Department - “Cranberry Township Pickleball”

Haverford Township Parks and Recreation - “Rec at the CREC”

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation - “Esports Programming”

Upper Gwynedd Township - “Upper Gwynedd’s Night Sky Campout” & “2021 Community Garden”

 Township of Upper St. Clair - “Monster Hunt at Boyce Mayview Park”

Whitemarsh Township Parks & Recreation - “Magic McSnowflake” & “Spotted Lanternfly Program”

Whitpain Township - “Whitpain Twp. Earth Day online”