The Decatur Park District received the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and the American Academy of Parks and Recreation Administration (AAPRA). The award was presented during the 2020 NRPA Annual Conference: A Virtual Experience.

The 2020 Gold Medal Grand Plaque recipients are:

Class I (population 400,001 and over) 

  • Metroparks Toledo –Ohio

Class II (population 150,001 – 400,000)  

  • City of Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department –North Carolina

Class III (population 75,001 – 150,000)  

  • Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation –Indiana

Class IV (population 30,001 – 75,000)  

  • Decatur Park District –Illinois

Class V (population less than 30,000) 

  • City of Green River Parks and Recreation Department –Wyoming

Armed Forces Recreation Award

  • Fort Riley Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Community Recreation Division –Kansas

This award could not have been possible without the hard work and dedication from the Decatur Park Board of Commissioners, District staff, volunteers, donors and community collaborators over the last 96 years.

In presenting the Grand Plaques, AAPRA President Dianne Hoover shared, “The National Gold Medal Awards, both the Finalist and the Grand Plaques, are especially significant this year as agencies were adapting to a new normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Agencies were experiencing unprecedented increase in park usage at the same time they were adapting to new recreation program delivery challenges. Each agency is to be commended and congratulated.”

Founded in 1965, the National Gold Medal Awards program honors communities throughout 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. 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.

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.

To learn more about the Gold Medal Awards, visit or


The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration is a nonprofit organization founded in 1980 to advance knowledge related to the administration of recreation and parks; to encourage scholarly efforts by practitioners and educators to enhance the practice of park and recreation administration; to promote broader understanding of the importance of parks and recreation to the public good; and, to conduct research, publish scholarly papers and/or sponsor seminars related to the advancement of park and recreation administration. For more information, visit

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to building strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation. With more than 60,000 members, NRPA advances this mission by investing in and championing the work of park and recreation professionals and advocates — the catalysts for positive change in service of equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit