Florida State Parks Announced as 2019 National Gold Medal Finalist

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CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112, DEPNews@dep.state.fl.us

Florida State Parks Announced as Finalist for the 2019 National Gold Medal Awards in Parks and Recreation

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Florida Park Service was named a finalist for the 2019 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).

The Florida Park Service is a finalist in the State Parks category. Florida State Parks is the only three-time gold medal winning state park system. With over 800,000 acres, including 100 miles of beaches, Florida State Parks has a proud legacy of leading conservation and recreation in Florida. This legacy is built on the way the Florida State Parks connects with people, engages with communities and adapts to emerging needs.

"We are thrilled Florida State Parks have been named as a finalist for the Gold Medal Award,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “Florida’s state parks are home to some of the most special places in the country, providing many unique recreational and educational opportunities for all who visit. I am proud of the hard work of our Florida Park Service staff and the many volunteers who are dedicated to providing visitors with a one-of-a-kind park experience."

Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the United States 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 recreation and one class for state park systems awarded on odd numbered years.

“Being selected as a Gold Medal finalist recognizes the terrific work of our staff, volunteers and partners,” Florida Park Service Director Eric Draper said. “Together, we make sure visitors can have transformative experiences, even as we protect the best of Florida’s natural and cultural resources.”

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff and elected officials. DEP’s Florida Park Service joins three other finalists in their class - Maryland, Tennessee and Washington - that will compete for grand honors this year. 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. 

This year’s finalists will compete for Grand Plaque Award honors this summer, and the seven Grand Plaque recipients will be announced live during the NRPA General Session at the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, Sept. 24–26, 2019.

For more information on the Gold Medal Awards, visit www.nrpa.org/goldmedal or www.aapra.org.