four people holding a gold medal plaque in front of a photo backdropIn May 2021, The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), announced the Centerville-Washington Park District (CWPD) as a finalist for the 2021 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. This is the third time in four years CWPD has been named as a finalist for the award.

Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the U.S. that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Applications are separated into seven classes, with five classes based on population, one class for armed forces and one class, awarded on odd numbered years, for state park systems.

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members and staff. The Centerville-Washington Park District joined three other finalists in their class to compete for grand honors this year. The Centerville-Washington Park District was a finalist in the Class IV (population 30,001-75,000) category. CWPD operates eight community parks, nine nature parks, and 34 neighborhood parks encompassing more than 1,030 acres in Centerville and Washington Township.

A panel of five park and recreation professionals reviews and judges all application materials. Judges are chosen for their considerable experience and knowledge in parks and recreation on both the local and national levels.

In announcing the 2021 Finalists, AAPRA Executive Director Jane H. Adams shared, “Each Finalist is congratulated for receiving this prestigious award. We know local communities, state park systems, and military installations worldwide met the challenge of being responsive to the changing demands of delivering services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Park visitors and program participants have come to rely upon their service provider for physical, mental, and emotional support during this pandemic. The Academy congratulates each Finalist for their management excellence during this unprecedented time.”

This year’s finalists competed for Grand Plaque Award honors this summer. The seven Grand Plaque recipients were announced during the 2021 NRPA Annual Conference in September. The Centerville-Washington Park District was presented with a Finalist plaque during the ceremony.

Park District Director Kristen Marks said, “It is an honor to be recognized as one of the best in the nation for the District’s recreation programs, facilities and services. Staff pivoted and innovated during the pandemic to continue providing high-quality park experiences for the community. The positive response has been wonderful! We feel fortunate to be in a community that places such a high value on parks and green spaces.”

For more information on the Gold Medal Awards, visit or

(Pictured above at the Gold Medal Awards Ceremony, September 2021: Carrie Dittman, Marketing & Communication Supervisor, Alex Pearl, Park Board Vice President, Kristen Marks, Executive Director, Arnie Biondo, Former Executive Director.)

Video: 2021 National Gold Medal Award Finalist Video Submission.