Evanston’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department has been named a finalist for the National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management for the second consecutive year.

The award program is a project of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association. 

It honors communities in the U.S. that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development and professional development.

Other finalists in the category for communities with populations of  75,001 to 150,000 include parks departments in Bloomington, Indiana; Greeley, Colorado, and Lawrence, Kansas.

“From summer camps to summer jobs, preschool programs to senior services, Evanston’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department strives to meet the needs of our entire community,” said Mayor Stephen Hagerty. “Being named a national Gold Medal finalist two years running is a testament to the department’s continued commitment to excellence, innovation and community service.”

Evanston’s award application highlighted the department’s breadth of programming — from the mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program and a summer camp reading program in cooperation with the Evanston Public Library to long-term care ombudsman services.

Also included were new department initiatives, such as the “Let’s Play” mobile engagement trailer, which brings recreation opportunities to neighborhood events, and installation of the Ecology Center’s apiary and pollinator garden, which facilitates educational programming.

The application also noted the city’s wide variety of cultural events, such as the World Arts & Music Festival, as well as its diverse, skilled staff, which includes Olympian figure skating coaches, a member of the Screen Actors Guild, certified Kingian non-violence trainers, and many others.

Grand prize winners in the competition are scheduled to bee announced at the NRPA annual conference in September.

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