American Academy for Park & Recreation Administration

American Academy for Park & Recreation Administration

The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) is an organization of distinguished practitioners and scholars committed to the advancement of the park and recreation field.1 Members must have served for at least 15 years in a high level of administration in a park and recreation agency or as a recognized educator in parks and recreation administration; or they must manage a park and recreation department for an agency with a population of more than 500,000. They also must have demonstrated outstanding ability in administration, management, or education in the profession; displayed broad interest with a direct service benefit to the advancement of public parks and recreation; or assumed leadership with a keen desire to contribute to the advancement of the field.2 The Academy is limited to 125 active members with no more than 25 who may be educators.

The purpose of the Academy is set forth with four objectives:

  1. To advance knowledge related to the administration of public parks and recreation.
  2. To encourage scholarly efforts both by practitioners and educators to enhance the practice of public parks and recreation administration.
  3. To promote broader public understanding of the importance of public parks and recreation to the public good.
  4. To conduct research, publish scholarly papers, and/or sponsor seminars related to the advancement of public parks and recreation administration.3

The initial idea for establishing a park and recreation academy began in the 1960s and was originally thought to serve an advisory role to the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Senior members of NRPA felt there was a lack of opportunity for continued involvement once they had completed service on NRPA committees and its board. However, through the years with lack of follow-up on the plans, the Academy was not established until 1980 when a group of potential Academy members met at the 1980 NRPA Congress in Phoenix, Arizona. Their resolution was signed by 29 park and recreation professionals attending the meeting. NRPA chose to remain independent of the Academy, but they maintain a close and mutually supportive relationship between the two organizations.

The idea for an Academy publication was proposed in February of 1981. Organizational plans and fundraising efforts resulted in the first issue of the Journal of Park and Recreation Administration to be released in January of 1983 to 111 subscribers. By September of 1984 their number of subscribers settled to around 700. The magazine has been published by Sagamore Publishing Company, Champaign, Illinois, since 1990.

The Legends of Park and Recreation Program was initiated in 1981 by Robert Toalson. He proposed recording interviews with top administrators in the field on video. The first interviews recorded on October 26, 1981, were with Dr. Edith Ball, Conrad Wirth, John Schultz, Robert Crawford, and Clifton French.4 Through the years more than 100 interviews have been recorded including such notables as Joseph Prendergast, William Penn Mott, Charles E. Hartsoe, Robert F. Toalson, and David O. Laidlaw. Each Legend recorded interview is approximately 30-45 minutes in length.5

Following a suggestion by Robert Crawford, a proposal to create a public recreation and park hall of fame was presented in 1986.6 The hall of fame concept was expanded and refined by the Joseph Lee Memorial Library Committee with startup funds provided by a grant from the National Recreation Foundation. Subsequently named The Robert W. Crawford Recreation and Park Hall of Fame, the program recognizes individuals who had made outstanding and lasting contributions to the advancement of recreation and parks. The first induction ceremony took place at the NRPA National Congress and Exposition held in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1988.7 The first inductees were recreation pioneers who made great contributions to the development of the recreation and park movement: Frederick Law Olmstead, Joseph Lee, George A. Parker, Luther H. Gulick, Theodore Wirth, Howard S. Braucher, and Lebert H. Weir.8

From the early 1980s the Academy has sought to advance public parks and recreation through symposiums and publications. Their earliest symposium was the International Symposium on Sports for Everyone, which was held on July 27, 1984 in Anaheim, California, to coincide with the 1984 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles. The publication, Proceedings, International Symposium on Sports for Everyone, included the papers given at the symposium.9

The Academy seeks to encourage young professionals through its Externship Program and Mentorship Program. The Externship Program enables young professionals 35 years and younger in the parks and recreation field to interact with and learn from members of the Academy during the NRPA Congress who help them widen their network base to key professionals in the field.10 The Mentorship Program pairs members of AAPRA or NRPA who are part of the Administrators Network with members of the Young Professionals Network who commit to the program for a specific time and a minimum of two hours per month. The goal is to ensure the Academy is a vibrant, growing, and relevant organization by encouraging participation by young professionals.11

The John C. Potts Leadership Development Scholarship, known as the Pottsie, is intended to support young professionals who have demonstrated leadership and management potential within their organizations. The scholarship covers the tuition and lodging as well as up to $500 in travel expenses for first-year students at the NRPA Directors School.12

The Honorable Cornelius Amory Pugsley Medals are the most prestigious awards that recognize outstanding contributions to the promotion and development of public parks, recreation, and conservation in the United States. The first Pugsley Medals were awarded in 1928, and the winner of the first National level award was Stephen T. Mather.13

The Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Parks and Recreation are presented by AAPRA in partnership with NRPA to honor communities throughout the United States that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management, and agency recognition.14

The Academy also sponsors a Best Paper Award each year alternating between the categories of Best Student Paper Award and Best Doctoral Dissertation Award.15

  • 1. “Who We Are.” American Academy for Park & Recreation Administration. < www.aapra.org > 7 Dec. 2016.
  • 2. “About Us.” American Academy for Park & Recreation Administration. < http://www.aapra.org/about-us > 7 Dec. 2016.
  • 3. “AAPRA Bylaws.” American Academy for Park & Recreation Administration. < http://www.aapra.org/aapra-bylaws > 7 Dec. 2016.
  • 4. Hartsoe, Dr. Charles F. “Historical Background: The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration. < https://www.theacademyofleisuresciences.org/sites/default/files/history/Related%20Univ%20and%20other%20Association%20Documents/AAPRA%20History%201980-1990.pdf > 8 Dec. 2016.
  • 5. “Legends in the Field.” American Academy for Park & Recreation Administration. < www.aapra.org/legends > 8 Dec. 2016.
  • 6. Op. cit., Hartsoe.
  • 7. “Robert W. Crawford Hall of Fame.” National Recreation and Park Association. < http://www.nrpa.org/uploadedFiles/nrpa.org/Membership/Awards/Robert_W_Crawford_Hall_of_Fame/Brochure.pdf > 29 Nov. 2016.
  • 8. “Hall of Fame Inductees.” National Recreation and Park Association. < http://www.nrpa.org/uploadedFiles/nrpa.org/Membership/Awards/Robert_W_Crawford_Hall_of_Fame/HALL-OF-FAME-INDUCTEES.pdf > 29 Nov. 2016.
  • 9. Op. cit., Hartsoe.
  • 10. “Programs.” American Academy for Park & Recreation Administration. < http://www.aapra.org/programs > 8 Dec. 2016.
  • 11. “Mentorship Program.” American Academy for Park & Recreation Administration. < http://www.aapra.org/mentorship-program > 8 Dec. 2016.
  • 12. “John C. Potts Leadership Development Scholarship.” American Academy for Park & Recreation Administration. < http://www.aapra.org/john-c-potts-leadership-development-scholarship > 8 Dec. 2016.
  • 13. “Pugsley Award.” American Academy for Park & Recreation Administration. < http://www.aapra.org/pugsley-award > 8 Dec. 2016.
  • 14. “Gold Medal Award.” American Academy for Park & Recreation Administration. < http://www.aapra.org/gold-medal-award > 8 Dec. 2016.
  • 15. “Best Paper Award.” American Academy for Park & Recreation Administration. < http://www.aapra.org/best-paper-award > 8 Dec. 2016.