The Decatur Park District is the focal point for parks, recreation, and aviation activity in the greater Decatur area. The District operates 2,000 acres of park land, an indoor sports center, regional airport, two golf courses, softball, soccer and tennis complexes, athletic fields, a community aquatics center, an AZA-accredited zoo, arts & recreation center, senior center, and Overlook Adventure Park. The Decatur Park District strives to enrich the lives of all in our community and continues to earn honors for its partnerships and service excellence.

The Decatur Park District has received both regional and national recognition. In 2000,we received the Great Lakes Region Partnership Award. In 2000 and 2016, we earned distinction as a National Recreation & Parks Association Gold Medal Finalist. We have been recognized as an IAPD/IPRA Distinguished Accredited Agency since 1999, achieving re-accreditation in 2018.

District Awards

Beginning in 2007, the Decatur Park District received the following Illinois Association of Park Districts “Best of the Best” Awards:

2007: Illinois Parks Top Journalist – Brian Byers
2008: Illinois Parks Top Journalist – Mark Tupper
2008: Best Friend of Illinois Parks, Large Business – ADM
2010: Illinois Arts Alliance “Arts in the Park” Award
2010: Best Friend of Illinois Parks, Large Business – Tate & Lyle
2012: Best Friend of Illinois Parks, Large Business – Decatur Memorial Hospital
2012: Intergovernmental Cooperation Award, Decatur Park District & DPS #61
2013: Best Friend of Illinois Parks, Mid-Sized Business – Team Soy Capital
2013: Illinois Parks Top Journalist – Allison Petty
2014: Partnership Award – Millikin University
2014: Good Sportsmanship Award – Mike Landacre, Staley Striders
2014: IPRA Outstanding Special Event: Zoo-rific Evening at Scovill Zoo
2018: Best Friend of Illinois Parks, Small Business – DCC Marketing
2018: Illinois Arts Alliance “Arts in the Park Award,” 2nd Place
2019: Best Friend of Illinois Parks, Small Business – Refreshment Services Pepsi
2019: Intergovernmental Cooperation Award, Decatur Park District & City of Decatur

In May 2016, the Decatur Park District was named a National Recreation & Park Association (NRPA) Gold Medal Award finalist. The Gold Medal awards program honors communities 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 7 classes, with 5 classes based on population, 1 class for armed forces recreation, and 1 class for state park systems. Decatur was a finalist in Class IV (population of 30,001 – 75,000), competing against Bismarck ND, Olympia WA, and Gold-Medal-Finalist-Logo-01Springfield, OR. “To receive national recognition as a Gold Medal Finalist is a great honor and speaks highly of our Park District leadership and staff who give 100% each day so our community members and visitors can enjoy all that our Park District has to offer,” said Park Board President Bob Brilley, II. “This recognition is also earned with the help of our sponsors, partners, and volunteers. Without them, we couldn’t do what we do.” The entry submission included an application detailing financial data and a parks inventory, 9 essays, a 250-word Park District summary, Master Plan summary, 3 photographs, and a 5-minute video. Winners were announced on October 6, 2016 at the NRPA Conference in St. Louis. View the Decatur Park District 2016 Gold Medal Video.

The Decatur Park District’s cultural arts programs have twice earned the NRPA Dottie Mullen Award for Arts & Humanities.

Individual Awards

In 2011, Executive Director Bill Clevenger was honored with the IPRA Robert Artz Award for Distinguished Service. This prestigious award is based upon contributions that provide lasting value and create an awareness of the importance of parks & recreation in the community in which the individual serves.

At the 2013 Illinois Association of Park Districts/Illinois Park & Recreation Association Soaring to New Heights Conference, Park Board President Chris Riley was honored as Commissioner of the Year. Riley was selected from among 2,100 elected board members at 460 park districts, forest preserves, and conservation districts across the state of Illinois.

This summer, cultural arts manager Marie Jagger-Taylor received an Honorable Mention in the Excellence in Theater Education Tony Award, presented by Carnegie Mellon. She was nominated by students Amanda and Becca Allgeier, and Chloe Clark. The honor recognizes a K-12 theater education who has demonstrated “monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession.”

At the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, Chris Riley, former Decatur Park Board Commissioner received the Robert M. Artz Advocate Award by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The Robert M. Artz Award recognizes an advocate, an elected or appointed official, or volunteer who has demonstrated outstanding efforts to forward public parks and recreation through education and activating the public in their community, state or at the national level.

Scovill Zoo

The District’s Scovill Zoo earned re-accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2017.