Every year, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)1 recognizes the latest advancements in their field with the NRPA Innovation Awards2. The awards are bestowed on parks and recreation agencies that have improved and empowered their communities over the previous year through innovative practices in park design, health and wellness, conservation and social equity.
This year, three ACTIVE Network customers are being recognized3 for their innovative approaches to recreation. We want to take a closer look at how they earned these accolades and congratulate them on their successes.
Forest Preserves of Cook County Receives Award for Innovation in Conservation
The Forest Preserves of Cook County4 has been leading the way in nature conservation in Illinois since 1914. The largest forest preserve district in the US, FPCC receives nearly 40 million visits each year5, mostly urban dwellers from nearby Chicago who need to relax in the vast green spaces they offer. As an ACTIVE Network customer, they have managed educational and recreational programs with a focus on conservation and nature for people of all ages, encouraging citizen scientists to engage in plant and animal monitoring in collaboration with their staff.
The FPCC was awarded the Innovation in Conservation Award by the NRPA for their Conservation Corps program, which provides hands-on experiences to individuals from across Cook County to increase diversity in the field of conservation. The program engages people of all backgrounds, including those with barriers to employment, to participate in conservation and pursue careers in nature. The program is credited with exposing many of its participants to recreation activities in nature for the first time.
Chicago Park District Wins Award for Innovation in Social Equity
ACTIVE Network Customer, Chicago Park District6, is the largest municipal park manager in the nation, with over 8,800 acres of green space in its care7. The department started Night Out in the Parks8 to provide free, accessible arts programming to citizens across Chicago starting in 2012. The program was recognized for Innovation in Social Equity by the NRPA for bringing quality cultural programming to neighborhood parks, including over 2,000 events featuring more than 2,000 local artists.
The Chicago Park District built the My Chi Parks mobile app to provide instant access to each of the Night Out in the Parks events, covering 77 parks across the city. Now, anyone in the city can easily see when and where events are taking place, helping bring neighbors together and proving that the arts are a catalyst for strong, safe communities.
View how ACTIVE Net helped Chicago Park District analyze their performance measures and improve operational efficiencies here.
Michael Klitzing with Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation Receives Award for National Distinguished Professional
ACTIVE Network customer Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation11 in Carmel, Indiana, manages a suburban parks and recreation program outside of Indianapolis. The crown jewel of the program is the Carmel Monon Community Center, which is home to a $24.5 million waterpark and fitness center in Carmel’s Central Park.
Michael Klitzing, COO, has been instrumental in the development of a new park playground that will feature a “skywalk” — a 32-foot long and 16-foot high rope walkway with slides and climbing features that will help launch children’s imaginations to the sky. The Lawrence W. Inlow Park12 will open to the public in fall 2018, just in time to be recognized by the NRPA Annual Conference, hosted in Indianapolis September 25-27.
We wish to extend a hearty congratulations to these ACTIVE Network customers recognized by NRPA, as well as all the nominees in each category. The Best in Innovation Award will be presented at the 2018 NRPA Annual Conference13 on September 25, 2018, and we can’t wait to see who takes home this coveted recognition.
If you’re attending the 2018 NRPA Annual Conference this September, we would love to see you there! Click here for more information on where to find us during the show.