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2023 National Distinguished Professional Award



The National Distinguished Professional Award is presented to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field through their leadership, research, advocacy, community outreach, and program development.

The nomination deadline is March 24, 2023.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Nominee must be an NRPA member.
  • Minimum of 15 years of experience in parks and recreation
  • Degree in parks and recreation (preferred)
  • Certification through national program (preferred)
  • Nominee should:
    • Exhibit distinctive service to the field of parks and recreation
    • Provide effective leadership in the field of parks and recreation in research, advocacy, or community efforts to advance the field
    • Served as a speaker, moderator, or panel member for state or national conference, school, or workshop; or
    • Submitted an article for publication for a professional media (i.e, state or national magazine).


Application Materials:

  • Answers to the questions provided in the application form
  • Short essay responses (no more than 250 words for each) provided by the nominator to the following questions:
    • Describe how the candidate has shown themselves to be a leader in the field of parks and recreation. Include any involvement in local organization, state or regional associations, and NRPA committees/networks, elected or appointed positions, consistent participation in committees or special projects, and community involvement.
    • Describe how the nominee has shown responsibility for exemplary advancement of the recreation and parks profession in their agency, state or national level. Cite specific examples.
    • Describe the candidates accomplishments, including awards, commendations, honors, or professional advancement through their work in park and recreation. This can include degrees in the field and national certifications.
    • Describe the candidates contributions to the park, recreation, and leisure field, and why they are worthy of national recognition. Examples of contributions are: research, advocacy, and community efforts to advance the field, public relations furthering the image of park and recreation organizations and profession, original contributions to the profession which has affected the philosophy or practice of parks and recreation.
  • A resume including work, education and volunteer experiences
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Optional - one additional supplemental item which highlights the nominee's efforts and achievements


Nomination Instructions:

  • All nominations must be received by NRPA no later than 11:59 p.m. EST on March 24, 2023.
  • Nominator may only nominate using this official nomination form. Self nominations will not be accepted.
  • All materials must be submitted electronically using this survey format.
  • Applicants must have or create an NRPA login account to complete an application.
  • Supplemental material file types include .pdf, .doc or .docx as noted on form.
  • Nomination is automatically disqualified if it does not meet criteria, submission instructions of if the responses are over the word limit.
  • This format has a save and continue feature that is located at the bottom of the question pages.


Terms and Conditions:

  • NRPA reserves the right to disqualify an application if in NRPA’s sole discretion it determines that the application does not contain truthful information, is contrary to the standards or policies of NRPA, or violates applicable laws, or if the nominee acted contrary to the standards or policies of NRPA, or violated applicable law or could reflect negatively on NRPA.
  • NRPA reserves the right to revoke any award or prize if in NRPA’s sole discretion it determines that the awardee acted contrary to the standards or policies of NRPA or acted in violation of applicable laws or could reflect negatively on NRPA.

For more information, contact the NRPA Awards Program at awards@nrpa.org.

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