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exas State Parks received the 2023 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management Wednesday morning.

The National Gold Medal Award Program is governed and administered by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) and announced at the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)’s annual conference.

“It’s no secret to the more than 9 million people who visit Texas State Parks every year that we have one of the nation’s premiere systems,” said Rodney Franklin, director of Texas State Parks. “However, it is touching and fitting to receive this prestigious award during our centennial year, truly substantiating the progress we have made over the past century to fulfill the vision laid out by Gov. Patt Neff of providing places where the people of Texas could enjoy the beauty of this great state.”

Texas State Parks was named a finalist along with Missouri State Parks, Ohio State Parks and Watercraft; and Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails.

Founded in 1965, the 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 seven classes, with five classes based on population, one class for armed forces recreation and one class, awarded on odd numbered years, for state park systems.

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. Four finalists in each class are chosen to compete for grand honors each year. For more information concerning the Gold Medal Award Program, visit https://aapra.org/National-Gold-Medal-Award.

“We really tried to highlight for the judges the extensive amount of work we have done in recent years to increase accessibility and diversity in our parks,” Franklin said. “We have used the excitement created by our Centennial Celebration as an opportunity to invite new audiences to take advantage of the recreational and health benefits provided by their state parks, and to prepare a new generation of stewards for the next 100 years of growth.”

For more information about the Texas State Park Centennial Celebration, including community events, the history of Texas State Parks and how to make a day visit or overnight reservation, visit the Texas State Parks 100 Years website at TexasStateParks.org/100years.


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