University of Tampa

City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department Announced as a Finalist for the 2021 National Gold Medal Awards in Parks and Recreation Management

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The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), is pleased to announce the City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department as a finalist for the 2021 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. Musco Lighting, LLC is proud to continue its 20+ years of sponsoring the National Gold Medal Awards program.

Founded in 1965, the National 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 six classes, with five classes based on population and one class for armed forces.

AAPRA Executive Director Jane H. Adams shared, “Each Finalist is congratulated for 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.”

The City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department is a finalist in the Class II (population 150,001 – 400,000) category. This is the fourth consecutive year that Tampa Parks and Recreation has been recognized as one of the top agencies in the nation.

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff members and elected officials. Tampa Parks & Recreation joins three other finalists in their class that will compete for Grand Plaque which will be awarded in September.

Interim Director Sherisha Hills stated, “On behalf of the City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department, it is once again an honor to be placed in the distinguished ranks of FINALIST for the NRPA’s 2021 National Gold Medal award for the fourth consecutive year. Without the hard-working and dedicated team members within the various divisions in Parks and Recreation, we wouldn’t be here as a finalist. This award is a testament to our staff, and we are humbled by this recognition for delivering superb parks and recreation services to our constituents in Tampa. We would like to thank the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association, for choosing the City of Tampa’s Parks and Recreation Department as a finalist and extend our thanks to Musco Lighting, LLC for sponsoring this prestigious award.” 

A panel of five highly qualified park and recreation professionals will review and judge 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 the Grand Plaque Award honors this summer, and seven Grand Plaque recipients will be announced during the 2021 NRPA Conference, which will be held virtually and in person September 21-23 in Nashville, Tennessee. The presentation of both the Finalist and Grand Plaque recipients is being finalized and details will be forthcoming.

For more information on the National Gold Medal Award Program, visit

The City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department

Operating on over 3,540 acres of parkland with 194 parks, 36 community centers, 12 pools, 10 splash pads, five art studios, five cemeteries, three skate parks, two gymnastics and dance facilities, and one amazing Riverwalk; we are dedicated to providing a quality park system that meets the community’s needs for recreation and learning opportunities. Ranging from the Stay & Play program that offers teens a safe alternative from the summer streets; to the Tree-Mendous tree program that is helping to renew the urban forest; or over a thousand free Head Start swim lessons offered at our pools; Tampa Parks and Recreation is leading the way in innovative recreational opportunities for everyone.

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

Partner: The National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit