CPRS Awards Program

CPRS Awards Program

Get your award worthy people, programs and projects ready... the CPRS Awards program is now OPEN!

The California Park & Recreation Society's Awards Program recognizes the outstanding achievements of agencies and individuals in the areas of community improvements and programming, facility design and park planning, marketing and communications, and professional and citizen leadership.

The annual Awards Program is open to CPRS members and non-member individuals, agencies, organizations, companies, and universities.

The 2020 Awards program is now OPEN!

Don't delay... Nominations are EXTENDED to January 19, 2021!

Submit your Nomination Here!

Award Categories

Creating Community Award of Excellence
This award recognizes outstanding initiatives by agencies, departments, or districts in their effort to deliver the highest level of recreation and leisure programs and services that embody and embrace the values and mission of the profession and move the agency towards a stronger position or role within the community.

Your entry must have been conducted for a minimum of three years.*

*Covid related programming and services do not qualify for the Creating Community Award.  Please know we will be collecting your Covid related photos, videos, and stories for other non-competitive recognition during CONNECTIONS Virtual.

Excellence in Design - Facility Design
This award recognizes excellence in design of completed aquatic, recreation and/or cultural facilities intended for public use. The project may be either new construction or a rehabilitation project that demonstrates high standards of planning, design, community involvement, operation and maintenance, quality of aesthetics, usability, accessibility and versatility. This award further recognizes design and construction or significant rehabilitation of buildings, structures and facilities used primarily to support park and recreation purposes.

Project must have been completed between November 1, 2019 and October 31, 2020.
Excellence in Design - Park Planning
This award recognizes excellence in design of completed park facilities intended for public use. The project may be either new construction or a rehabilitation project that demonstrates high standards of planning, design, community involvement, operation and maintenance, quality of aesthetics, usability, accessibility and versatility. This award further recognizes planning and development or significant rehabilitation of outdoor park and recreation spaces where the majority of the site does not contain buildings, structures or facilities and that result in higher levels of community use.

Project must have been completed between November 1, 2019 and October 31, 2020.
Marketing & Communications Award of Excellence
This award recognizes excellence in print, audio visual or electronic communications that (1) externally promote the agency’s public parks, facilities, recreation or leisure services programs and have successfully demonstrated an increased level of public awareness or (2) are used to enhance the agency’s internal communications to staff, policy makers, or current program participants.

Project must have been completed between November 1, 2019 and October 31, 2020.
Champion of the Community
The Champion of the Community award honors and recognizes individuals or organizations who have contributed significant effort to influence and improve the quality of their community through parks and recreation. This statewide award recognizes the contributions of those who volunteer and provide support and services in their community that furthers the mission and quality delivery of park and recreation services, programs and facilities in their community.

This award is not awarded to employees or retirees in the parks and recreation profession.
Citation of Merit
The Citation of Merit honors and recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to CPRS through service on the State, Section or District Boards, committees, or through service to CPRS at events, programs or conferences for 6 years or more. This statewide award is designed to recognize the contributions of those who work on behalf of CPRS to advance the profession and who strengthen and support CPRS as a professional organization.
Fellowship / Hall of Fame
The Fellowship / Hall of Fame is CPRS' highest award to honor and recognize individuals who have significantly contributed to and influenced CPRS and the parks and recreation profession throughout their career. This award is not necessarily awarded each year. The Hall of Fame is proudly displayed at CPRS Headquarters, in Sacramento.
Honorary Member
An Honorary Member Award is bestowed upon a retired park and recreation professional for outstanding contributions to the parks, recreation and/or human services profession through service to CPRS.
Outstanding Research
The Outstanding Research Award honors and recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to CPRS and the profession by engaging in all aspects of applied research. The nominee must demonstrate a record of dissemination of research over a period of at least 5 years that reaches professionals in the field via publications, technical reports, and/or presentations at the district, state (CPRS), or national (NRPA Conference) levels. This statewide award is designed to recognize the research contributions of those who advance the profession and who strengthen and support CPRS as a professional organization.
Rising Professional
This award honors and recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to CPRS through service on State, Region, Section or District Boards or committees, or through service to CPRS at events, programs or conferences for no less than 3 and no more than 10 years of service. Up to one (1) Rising Professional may be named per CPRS Region annually. This award is designed to recognize the contributions of those who work on behalf of CPRS to advance the profession and who strengthen and support CPRS as a professional organization.

Award Selection Criteria

Each award submission will be reviewed by a panel of judges.  The focus of the reviews will be on the following 5 principles.  Successful submissions will address each of these 5 principles, using specific examples.  Repetition of verbiage in multiple principles is generally viewed less favorably. 

Challenge... 

Describe the significant issue, problem or concern the entry addressed and the desired outcomes you were looking to achieve.

250 word max; 20 points possible

Award Winning Tip:  The issue, problem or concern should focus on the community and the impact if not addressed. Be sure to describe the intended outcome(s).  Be specific. 

Resourcefulness... 

The extent to which the entry demonstrated the use of creative or innovative approaches and the role community partners or stakeholders played in addressing the challenge.

400 word max; 25 points possible

Award Winning Tip:  Higher points are awarded when there is community-based collaboration and creative problem-solving.  This could be multiple agencies coming together, private/public partnerships, community generated ideas, etc. Describe how your approach was different, new or innovative.  If you are nominating a person, how did their work help your agency bridge gaps, foster solutions, or become part of 'the answer'?

Execution... 

The extent to which the entry utilized various strategies, tools, resources and outreach efforts to address the challenge, including the use of non-traditional fiscal or community resources (grants, sponsorships, volunteers, etc.) and the communication efforts used to inform the community, policy makers or partners.

400 word max; 20 points possible

Award Winning Tip:  This is about money, staff resources, and/or public outreach to expand your resources.  How did you obtain the needed resources and how did you communicate to inform and seek feedback from the community?  Be specific.  If you are nominating a person, how did they help your agency expand limited resources?

Accomplishments... 

The extent to which the entry created a substantial community benefit, improved operational efficiencies, created new or increased value in the community or significantly enhanced the provision of park and recreation services through measurable results.

400 word max; 25 points possible

Award Winning Tip:  This is different than Challenge.  Challenge is about the intended outcome - Accomplishment is about HOW you measured success.  What metrics did you use to know this was a successful program, park, facility or marketing effort?  What kind of data did you collect?  Show how you knew you met your goals.  If you are nominating a person, how do you know this person impacted the community in a positive way?

Mission... 

The extent to which the entry supports the mission of the profession and / or promotes the Parks Make Life Better!® statewide branding campaign.

250 word max; 10 points possible

Award Winning Tip:  While this is only 10 points, don't lose focus on this last principle.  Make sure you spend time and elaborate on how your program, project or nominee meets the mission of how Parks Make Life Better!.  Elaborating on multiple initiatives under this branding will garner you higher points. 

Award Program FAQs

Deadline to submit your nominations is Tuesday, January 19, 2021!

Award recipients will be notified in February 2021.

Do I need to be a member of CPRS to submit a nomination and/or receive an award?

See the chart below to determine if you must be a member of CPRS to nominate and/or receive an award:

Award Category Nominee Nominator
Creating Community Member/Non Member Member/Non Member
Facility Design Member/Non Member Member/Non Member
Park Planning Member/Non Member Member/Non Member
Marketing & Communications Member/Non Member Member/Non Member
Fellow/Hall of Fame Must be Member Must be Member
Rising Professional Must be Member Member/Non Member
Champion of the Community Member/Non Member Must be Member
Outstanding Research Must be Member Member/Non Member
Honorary Member Must be Member Must be Member
Citation of Merit Must be Member Member/Non Member


What is the deadline to submit a nomination?

Entries must be submitted online by 11:59 pm Tuesday, January 19, 2021.

Entry fee(s) must be paid online by 11:59 pm Tuesday, January 19, 2021.

Are there fees associated with submitting a nomination?  How much?

Award Category Fee
Creating Community $70 Member / $170 Non Member
Facility Design $70 Member / $170 Non Member
Park Planning $70 Member / $170 Non Member
Marketing & Communications $70 Member / $170 Non Member
Fellow/Hall of Fame No Fee
Rising Professional No Fee
Champion of the Community $70 Member / $170 Non Member
Outstanding Research $70 Member / $170 Non Member
Honorary Member No Fee
Citation of Merit $70 Member / $170 Non Member


Failure to pay the entry fee (if applicable) will disqualify your entry.

How do I pay my entry fee?

The entry fee must be paid on line at the time of submission.  Purchase orders and agency/personal checks will not be accepted.

May I submit more than one nomination in a specific category?

Agencies may submit more than one entry per category but not within the same class or division.

Tell me more about judging and how to submit a winning nomination...

Entries will be considered complete if all of the required information is submitted. Judges reserve the right to reassign an entry to a more appropriate category. The judges' decisions are final and judging information may be released upon the request of an agency to the Chair of that particular Awards Category. Judges are not required to select a winner in every category. For additional information on how to submit a more effective award nomination, review our "Award Winning Strategies."

Can private firms and/or individuals submit nominations?

Award entries submitted by private firms or individuals, i.e. architects, landscape architects, planners, graphic designers, etc. must submit a letter from their client acknowledging their permission to submit the program or project.

What information do I need to submit to be considered for an award?

Each entry must complete the Award Entry Form.  To see an outline of the submission criteria, view our Award Selection Criteria.

Each category requires additional submittal information. Please read each Award Category “Additional Submittals Required” section carefully to ensure your entry is qualified to be judged. Incomplete entries will not be judged.

Use the Tips and Award Winning Strategies to ensure your nomination is award worthy!

Photos: Acceptable format for photos is jpg.  Please ensure your photos are of the highest resolution possible (i.e. 300 dpi or higher).

Please Note:  All materials will become part of the CPRS library collection to share with other agencies and will not be returned to the entrant. The submission of this application warrants that all materials submitted do not violate any copyright or other proprietary rights of others; that the materials are original works; that any photograph or videos are clear of any ownership or copyright restrictions and those persons in the pictures or videos have agreed to or have no objection to CPRS using the pictures in promoting the agency's program or in any other CPRS material.

Award Winning Strategies

What makes a submission a winner? Here are tips from our judges to ensure a well written entry to the CPRS Awards Program:

Start now!

Don't wait until the last minute to prepare your awards submission! 

  • Review the award program descriptions carefully, noting the evaluation criteria that will be used to judge your entry. Also note each category requires different submittal information!
  • Start identifying the people, reports, photos, or documents you will need to complete your entry.
  • Ask another staff member to proof the narrative and submittals for misspellings and typos.
  • Be sure each submittal is labeled as directed and is in the right format (PDF, jpg, etc).

Need to step away from your application?

No problem!  Once you create an account and begin the process, you will receive an email with a link to update your application.  You will have until 11:59pm, January 19, 2021 to make edits, add files, and review information. 

Keep it simple and follow all directions

The award categories, entry criteria, and submittal requirements are slightly different for each award, so it is important to read each award category carefully.  Following directions will eliminate the chance your entry will be disqualified. Don't let this happen to your entry!

Focus on the evaluation criteria

The judges will rely solely on your narrative to tell your story. Have the evaluation criteria by your side as you write your narrative. Provide the information requested in a direct, simple style.

Resist the temptation to overwrite!

Review, review and review again

Do not underestimate the value of a well written narrative - this is our only way to judge your nomination! Have someone who has NO knowledge of the entry/program/facility review your narrative and submittals before submitting them online. Be sure to give them the evaluation criteria to follow! They should review your narrative for clarity, grammar, and spelling.

Keep a copy of your award entry narrative and submittals for your records as NO materials will be returned to you.  This is especially important if you want to re-submit the same application or follow the same format for a new entry.

Choose your agency contact well

Your agency contact will receive detailed information regarding the status of your award as well as any recognition for award recipients. They will be required to meet specific deadlines regarding your entry.  Select the most detailed person in your agency or organization to be the 'gatekeeper' of all information regarding your awards applications.

Recognition of Award Recipients

Awards recipients in each category, division, and class will receive:

  • A one of a kind mosaic plaque, hand made by our friends at Piece by Piece
  • Statewide recognition at CONNECTIONS Virtual (CPRS Conference & Expo) during one of our opening sessions, March 22-26, 2021
  • Statewide recognition in the Spring issue of California Parks & Recreation and on the CPRS website, www.cprs.org
  • Electronic Award of Excellence logo for agency promotional purposes
  • CPRS representative available to re-present the Award virtually or in person at a local event (if requested)
  • Sample press release for award recipient to distribute to local or regional media

Have questions or need Technical Assistance?

For general Award Program or criteria questions, please connect with our Award Program Co-Chairs:
Ann Dunleavy, 707-746-4282
Stephanie Molina, 661-763-4246

For questions regarding our online nominations process, please connect with CPRS HQ:
Stephanie Stephens, 916.665.2777

Sincere thanks to our long time Award Program Sponsors...

Little Tikes Logo
RJM Logo
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